Development opportunities for volunteers were not commonly reported by the participants. There was a lack of formal ongoing opportunities to develop. Although there were often instances of willingness, often opportunities were simply not available. Volunteers did however identify a need for ongoing training and development. Much of the volunteers’ skills and knowledge were obtained through learning on the job and from observing and talking to others including paid staff and other volunteers. Volunteers describe increasing confidence over time as they learn.
One volunteer noted that there was little interest in what else volunteers might be able to offer, and very little information was collected about them by organisations. This meant that their potential to contribute was not fully realised. Development of volunteers did not appear to be a high priority for organisations in this study. There were just a few examples of formal appraisal or feedback for volunteers and, as seen in this and the training section, few ongoing development activities.
And both the ladies that run the sessions are lovely, but S’s the one initially I have a great relationship – I’m friends with her anyway, I get on really well with her, so that helps in terms of support. But they’re very supportive. Like I said, they keep in touch with emails and texts all the time. They ask you at the end of the session how was it, do you think it was okay, and like that time where I did have a bit of a problem with the lady that didn’t want to be there, afterwards they were saying well done, you did well there, and they provide feedback on what you’ve done, and they ask then if there was any moments that you had with someone, and they write them down. (Female volunteer, Cumbria)
It’s looking at the fact that we are all different and there are perhaps things that we could do in addition to our role that maybe people don’t look at. That’s just seeing what you’ve got, looking at your… We fill in our DVS forms, we fill in our names and date of birth but other than that they want to know nothing about us. Well, we’re all very different individuals and we all have very different things that they could maybe tap into (Female volunteer, Cumbria)