Sending Thanks

To the wonderful people of Kingston,

One of the best parts of my role as Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator has been visiting the organisations we support to see the great things they are doing. My highlights of this year include; lunch with the guests of The Vintage Banquet, poppy making for remembrance Sunday at Kingston Eco-op, coppicing trees at Berrylands Nature Reserve and getting to take home delicious courgettes grown at Hogsmill Community Garden after a morning of volunteering. There are so many other wonderful organisations doing great things in Kingston.

We began 2019 by launching a new volunteer advice session at New Malden and by October we had added another venue at Tolworth Library, meaning we are now present in each of the four neighbourhoods. In June we celebrated Volunteers’ Week with the first ever Kingston Volunteers’ Fair which included an award ceremony presented by Leader of the Council, Liz Green. It was a pleasure to meet so many of you last year and help you discover volunteering as a pathway to your potential; allowing you to share your unique contribution with your community and develop life changing skills.

I’m excited to announce that this year brings some changes to the team! A new Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator began work in the New Year, as I take a new role as Training, Development and Events Coordinator. I’m certain that the new broker, Molly, is going to fit in really nicely to the Kingston volunteering community and I know that she cannot wait to meet all of you.

Thanking you all and wishing you happy volunteering in 2020!

Susie

 

Princess Alice Hospice

Princess Alice Hospice is a Kingston based charity that believes that everyone has the right to skilled, compassionate end of life care. Their services are free of charge, although reliant on the support and fundraising efforts of the local community.

They provide a comprehensive range of services that respond to the individual needs of patients and their families, so that they can live life to the full, create memories, share special moments and when the time comes, support them through, before and after the death of a loved one.

The roles they offer are varied, ranging from community fundraisers, allotment volunteers and charity shop assistants.

Ingrida is the Volunteer Recruitment Officer at Princess Alice Hospice. She’s been involved in the organisation for over six years; initially a volunteer herself in a charity shop, before moving up to supervisor, and then manager. She’s now in charge of finding new volunteers.

“I find the most effective way to get new volunteers is to reach out to them through the database. I particularly like the filter functions that enable me to get in touch directly with the volunteers based on their skills and location”.   – Ingrida Tusaite (Volunteer Recruitment Officer)

The most popular roles that Princess Alice Hospice advertises are the Event Assistants. Ingrida explains the flexibility appeals to people – most of them are on an ad hoc basis and are often at the weekends. They have a few Santa Fun Run events coming up in December that Ingrida is advertising through Volunteer Connect. Specifically, they are offering family volunteering roles, allowing parents and children to volunteer together at the festive events.

 

Gerard’s Journey of Becoming a Trustee

 

Gerard is a semi-retired independent social worker, who volunteers as a trustee for Home-Start Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow. Home-Start provides support to families in the boroughs of Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow who have at least one child under the age of five. The support varies according to the needs of each individual family, but volunteers are there to listen, offer friendship in times of need, and practical help, for example, during playtime or outings.

“Having worked in the social care sector throughout my life, I decided that, given this background, I still had something to contribute to the wellbeing of the more vulnerable members of the community.”

“My experience in child protection has given me the expertise to impart in assessing risk in vulnerable families and meeting the needs of children who may have suffered, or be likely to suffer harm.”

“I deliver safeguarding training to prospective volunteers – something I have always enjoyed and believe to be of great importance. I have also benefited from advising the volunteer coordinators on safeguarding matters. Of particular importance has been my providing supervision to the senior coordinator, giving us both the opportunity to reflect on our professional practice while acknowledging the personal impact of sometimes distressing and worrying circumstances involving children.”

“I would recommend being a trustee without hesitation. I think it’s important for each and every one of us to recognise that there exists a high level of need in our community and that we all have a responsibility to respond to this and do our utmost to ameliorate the lives of those who need help.”

How to recruit a trustee

According to the Charity Commission, approximately one in five charities in the UK has a trustee vacancy indicating that there is definitely no shortage of opportunities.

So why is it a challenge for the charities to find a trustee with the right experience and skillset? If you are one of those charities facing similar challenge, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your approach towards trustee recruitment.

Every charity can build a strong board if it invests time and effort in trustee recruitment and retention. With our easy step by step guide, you can now reintroduce ways to finding your next trustee.

Step 1: Preparing for Trustee Recruitment

  • Identify skills and experience- determine gaps in the skills and experience within your board, consider the diversity of the board
  • Create an information pack- full description of the role, specific skills and experience you are seeking; an overview of the organisation, its priorities and strategies.

Step 2: The Recruitment Process

  • Promote the role– depending on your affordability and accessibility promote the role through Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn.
  • Use specialist platforms – Do-it and Trusteefinder or a recruitment firm and your immediate internal & external network.
  • Interview objectives – be clear of what qualities you are seeking (candidate’s understanding of the organisation, the role, and the difference between management and governance), have an honest dialogue about the challenges they might face, their expectations and objectives for applying. Above all, are they passionate towards the cause of the charity?

Step 3: Training, Induction and Review

  • Give trustees time and resources to help them become an effective member of the board. The Code of Good Governance and The Essential Trustee are some of the useful resources.
  • Monitoring and evaluation is the key to understanding the effectiveness of strategic management the board is responsible for, so take time to review the new appointment and see how they are settling in the role after 4 – 6 months.

Trustees’ Week 2019

 

What are Trustees?

Trustees, sometimes knows as directors, board members, governors or committee members, are volunteers who make decisions about how a charity organisation should run; ensuring that it is using it’s resources appropriately and working in the best interest of the beneficiaries and wider community. This means that the skills and experience that Trustees bring to charities are vital to the way that the organisations develop and evolve, making diversity in Trustees very important.

Research published in 2019 shows that diversity in Trustees in the UK could be much improved:

Only 2% of Trustees are young people
92% of Trustees are white
64% are male
​The average age of a Trustee in England and Wales is 59 years-old

These shocking statistics show that the people influencing the decisions made by charities are not reflective of the population and that equal representation in Trustees should be high on the agenda.

Who can become a Trustee?

Anyone who aspires to help a charity organisation achieve their goals and aims can become a Trustee and a huge range of skills could be valuable to the charity. For example, your social media skills could help a charity reach out to the public; or your ethnicity, religion or age may be able to bring a different viewpoint to represent a certain part of the community and ensure equal representation.
Volunteering as a Trustee is a rewarding role but one that most volunteers don’t tend to consider. Each organisation will expect its trustees to spend a different amount of time on the role but most Trustee roles involve meeting the rest of the board four to eight times a year and most trusteeship fits conveniently around work, home and other commitments.

Kingston Carnival 2019

The annual Kingston Carnival is fast approaching and we have opportunities for you to take part! This year, the carnival will be promoting the unity between the various cultures which live happily together in Kingston. At the family-friendly event there will be a range of different foods and music to celebrate cultures and encourage interaction within the borough community.

As well as bringing communities together, the carnival aims to encourage creative development and enhance artistic excellence in Kingston.

There will be a ‘Green Zone’ showcasing environmental issues and sustainability ideas. So, how can you get involved? Kingston Race and Equalities Council are looking for stewards to help with a large range of duties including directing the Carnival procession, stage helpers, clearing up and handing out leaflets. Apply for the role to be part of this vibrant cultural event on Sunday 1st September

Micro Volunteering Day 2019

So, what is micro volunteering? This flexible model of volunteering constitutes of small acts of kindness which can take many different forms. Micro volunteering is a way to give back to your neighbours, local or global community, or environment. There is no ongoing commitment or training necessary and these roles can be virtual, remote or in person.

To celebrate Micro Volunteering Day 2019, we made and dispersed seed balls! These balls of clay and compost are coated in seeds and thrown or planted in green areas. Sometimes known as ‘seed green-aides’, this environmental activism emerged from the Guerrilla Gardening movement in New York, ‘Seed Bombing’ or ‘Aerial Reforestation’ aims to populate urban areas with flora, providing food for bees and other insects.  

Some other micro volunteering ideas are: 

  • Offering to do the food shopping or pick up some essential items for a neighbour  
  • Two-minute litter pick  
  • Clearing up a local community green space  
  • Donating unwanted items to a charity shop  
  • Buying a homeless person a hot drink or sandwich  
  • Signing an online petition  
  • Research surveys and questionnaires like Zooniverse  

Volunteering is valuable and every minute counts; it’s important that we value every selfless contribution whether that take place over seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months or years.  

February ended in a blinding beam of sunlight and from this, March has emerged.

Not only does this month mark the start of spring, promising growth and new life. It brings International Women’s Day (IWD). Both a celebration of women and an opportunity to look hopefully towards a more equal future. The 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, which calls for a more gender balanced world; “Better the balance, better the world”.

We have been thinking about non-working mothers and the potential of volunteering as a path to social enrichment and skill development.

26% of mothers do not work and nearly 1 in 5 parents reported they have deliberately stalled their careers. Taking a step back from paid employment need not mean that any parent sacrifices their personal or professional development. We believe strongly that volunteering can be a flexible means of enrichment, but it is vital that organisations actively create an accommodating work environment for this demographic.

A flexible working environment is the key to making volunteering opportunities accessible for all. Some ways that organisations may do this is through:

  • Term time working allows volunteers to take time off during the school holidays means they don’t need to find childcare over these periods and can enjoy time with their family
  • Role sharing means more perspectives, collaboration and more creative ways of working. This also allows multiple people to benefit from the voluntary placement
  • Working from home establishes trust and allows volunteers to emit travel time from their role. This may also save the organisation money if expenses are offered
  • Write full role descriptions to make sure volunteers know that you have an open and flexible working environment and that every contribution is valid regardless of the form it takes

Time To Talk Day 2019

1 in 4 will experience a mental health issue this year. However,  despite how common these experiences are, myths and misinformation make it difficult for people to ask for help and the subject often brings feelings of shame or embarrassment. Taking care of mental health in the work place and at home starts with one simple thing; speaking. It’s time to start talking about mental health.

Talking about mental health can seem like a minefield, you might be questioning whether you have the ability to support someone going through a tough time. Whether they are a friend or colleague, you can master the art of talking by learning to listen. Ask questions and try to really understand how they are feeling, this makes people feel acknowledged and cared about.

Once you’ve taken the first step and asked the person if they are okay, and they have said “Yes I’m fine”. Question ‘Are they really fine?’. If you’re not sure, ask twice to help them open up. They might not be ready to talk yet, but communicating that you are there for them and ready to listen means they are more likely to ask for help when they are ready to talk.

People experiencing mental health problems want to be treated without judgement. You don’t need to become someone’s therapist to help them. A message with a silly joke or a funny video can be a spark of light in a dark time. Try keeping up contact with someone, inviting them out to do normal things can help them see a way out of the bad place they are in. Make sure they know that you care.

Talking Mental Health at Work

“Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.”
– Louise Hart

The working environment is a tricky environment for discussing personal topics, such as mental health. How can we foster an atmosphere which allows for discussion about mental health? The key is to make employees or volunteers feel valued and comfortable within the workplace.

  1. An open door policy means that all employees and volunteers are encouraged to speak freely with any manager at any time. Encouraging a working environment where communication is free and open has advantages to organisations from a business perspective but this can also have a much more personal benefit to all.
  2. You don’t need to have a solution and sometimes trying to find one can lead you to saying the wrong thing. Try using acknowledgement and appreciation to tackle the conversation; “That must be really difficult for you” or “Thank you for telling me about it”.
  3. Be flexible to ensure you are creating a comfortable working environment for those with different needs.
  4. Make sure you understand mental health, take this useful quiz by Time To Change: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-quiz
  5. Set up a casual activity to encourage your staff and volunteers to talk about how they are feeling. Lots of healthy conversations have been known to start with tea and biscuits.
  6. Most organisations have a registered provider for counselling-related service – check with your HR department or line manager.

Third Volunteer Drop-in Location confirmed

A few months ago we held an online poll, asking the volunteers of Kingston to choose where our our third Volunteer Drop-In should be.

The results came in and we are delighted to announce that the third volunteer drop-in location will be in New Malden!

We will be holding drop-ins on the second Tuesday of each month at New Malden Library between 2pm – 4pm in the new year. Please check our events page for details of the next drop-in.

Our first drop-in will be on Tuesday 12th February so feel free to pop by for any volunteering related advice.

 

via GIPHY