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13 Nov 2013

Tessa’s November Blog

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  • Volunteering gives you more than just money – it’s a good-natured way to offer your time and skills
  • Organisations must be responsive and helpful to interested volunteers or they will lose them!
  • The No Second Night Out bi-monthly Volunteers Evening gives interested people the chance to find out more about what they can do to help – email for more information

Someone once said to me ‘why would you want to volunteer, you don’t get paid?’. I was in a bit of a state of shock because, for me, one of the benefits of volunteering is that there is something quite simple, honest and good-natured about giving your time to help out a person, team or organisation. In fact, what you get back is something that has a far greater value than money.

My involvement with recruiting and managing volunteers for No Second Night Out evolved gradually as the numbers of people willing to give their time grew. My role went from managing the volunteer diary and chasing references to interviewing potential volunteers, updating and creating volunteer documents, writing newsletters and increasingly being a central point of contact for new and current volunteers for the project.

From my own experience of volunteering for a number of charities, I know how important good communication is. There are so many organisations out there and the competition for good volunteers is so great that if someone shows an interest in giving you their time, you simply have to be responsive, informative and professional. As the number of No Second Night Out assessment hubs increased from one to three, and the role of Housing Pathway Volunteer developed to help out our clients searching for privately rented properties, I changed the recruitment strategy and process for volunteers to reach a wider audience. Although it was lovely to meet all potential volunteers individually for an interview, it has become more time effective and beneficial to hold Volunteer Evenings to recruit and inform people about the project.

And the group recruitment is working well! One important aspect is hearing current volunteers talk about what they get out of assisting staff at the hub and chatting to people who have been brought into the service. At last month’s event, two volunteers spoke about how they enjoy engaging with the wide variety of people brought to the hubs and how all the little tasks, some of which can be quite menial on their four-hour shift, can make such difference to someone.

Volunteers play a vital role in helping to engage people while they are at NSNO. Our volunteers play a large part in the project, making sure all of those small but essential tasks are done to free up a few more minutes for staff to be chasing accommodation options.

And I think what also works well is that our centres are open 24/7 so people can book a volunteer shift at a time to suit them. People soon realise that the fast pace of the service means they are an important pair of extra hands and staff are very grateful when a volunteer rings the doorbell to start their shift.

At NSNO every minute and every hour counts to ensure accommodation is secured for someone. And, as such, every minute and hour a person volunteers of their time is also invaluable.


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