Before we have a break to celebrate the season and re-charge our batteries so we can get stuck in to starting a new year, we thought it might be nice to reflect on 2015 and how it has been for the Volunteering team here at Community Action: MK – and what a year it has been!
But before we do, we end the year with some great news – we have just found out that we have been awarded a level 4 in the NAVCA Quality Audit for our Volunteering work. We are thrilled to receive this, the highest level possible and want to thank everyone whose hard work made it happen.
We always enjoy meeting new volunteers and helping them find the right volunteering opportunity and this year we helped 1,256 of them!
We’ve been pleased to see that all the Christmas and seasonal opportunities that we have been promoting have been completely filled. Clearly this time of year is one that people feel a real passion about giving back and supporting each other. We’d really urge groups who may not have thought of involving volunteers at this time of year, to consider doing so next year as there are many people wishing to find a good cause to help with. Let us know if you’d like more advice about how to go about involving volunteers.
Back in the spring we held an Inquiry into the Impact of Volunteering on Community Wellbeing. We wanted to find out, directly from charities and community groups in MK, how they think volunteering contributes to personal and community wellbeing and find out what more could be done to support this. We heard face to face in-depth evidence from many local organisations which reinforced for us the commitment to the strategy we developed for volunteering in Milton Keynes in 2013.
As a result of the findings, we have been able to influence Milton Keynes Council’s thinking around how volunteers can best be supported to engage with new opportunities and play a bigger part in shaping and delivering the services that really matter to them. We’ve also improved our internal systems and developed the ways in which we promote volunteering opportunities, making much more use of digital platforms but still maintaining our face to face contact and personalised approach. We’ve helped groups explore micro and digital volunteering and explored how event based volunteering could be supported with local arts and heritage organisations, amongst other things.
The key messages from the Inquiry were promoted in a campaign during Volunteers Week back in June, with local press coverage and great social media engagement. Work is ongoing to make sure we really embed the findings in our partnership work in 2016, particularly within the area of Health & Wellbeing at a strategic level.
2015 saw further big changes to Do-it.org, the national digital volunteering platform. Overall we have been pleased with these developments, and do believe it is now far easier for people to express an interest in volunteering opportunities without having to spend too much time on unnecessary admin. We haven’t yet seen this reflected in an increase of numbers of volunteers but are hopeful that 2016, with the use of a more powerful database behind Do-it (which had been delayed for almost 2 years) we will really see this come to fruition.
Our Employee Volunteering programme went from strength to strength in 2015, with 183 volunteers from Home Retail Group supporting local charities and groups with all sorts of things from sprucing up outdoor spaces, to restoring historic landscapes and creating giant puppets for a parade. We’re really excited about a new possibility for 2016 which will see Do-it launching www.goprobono.org.uk, which we hope will be a fantastic way for us to showcase the value of local brokerage to our corporate clients whilst using a digital platform that makes it super easy to access and navigate. If you’re new to the work we do to connect businesses and the voluntary sector in Milton Keynes, have a look at our wonderful Make it Possible video –
We shall hit the ground running in January and February with two events for Volunteer Managers, so please save the dates –
Wednesday 20th January – Safeguarding Workshop
Wednesday 24th February – Fundraising for Volunteer Managers
Our office will be closed from 24th December and re-open on 4th January, therefore there will be no volunteer drop in during that time.
Wishing everyone we have worked with this year a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2016.
Alissa, Debbie, Shona, Laura & Jeanette