The Volunteer Academy is a one-stop shop for volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. It streamlines processes and procedures for volunteer management and helps individuals and groups to be ‘Volunteer-Ready’.
In 2011, the Chair of Volunteer Centre Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde, David Blower MBE, outlined his concept of a Volunteer Academy that would be a one-stop shop for volunteers that would be organised and run by Volunteer Centre Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.
In 2012, the Volunteer Centre’s Volunteer Academy, was part of a delivery partnership for Blackpool’s Transforming Local Infrastructure project (later to become incorporated as One Blackpool), funded by the Cabinet Office through the Big Lottery Fund. Between April 2013 and March 2014, the Volunteer Centre Volunteer Academy, was a One Blackpool delivery partner for the Third Sector Strategic Partnership which was commissioned by Blackpool Council.
The Volunteer Academy Model
The Volunteer Academy model operates whereby somebody who expresses an interest in volunteering is seen as normal by the Volunteer Centre Brokerage team to establish their volunteering interests, motivations and aspirations. In addition to this though, a skills audit is completed to produce a personal development/action plan for their individual volunteer journey
The potential volunteer is then invited to attend free training to help them understand volunteering whilst improving their skills and gaining more confidence to carry them forward into whichever voluntary role this wished to try.
The training includes items such as Step Up to Volunteering, a pre volunteering/personal development course; Health & Safety; Equality & Diversity; Safeguarding, or whatever their skills audit might suggest.
From this, they are helped by the Volunteer Centre Brokerage team to find a volunteering opportunity suited to their individual needs and aspirations. Following their introduction into volunteering, the Volunteer Academy supports and mentors the volunteer throughout their volunteering journey. Providing this structured approach to volunteering, saves time, resources and money for volunteer involving organisations as it is an efficient and effective way of recruitment and supporting volunteers.
For volunteer involving organisations, the Volunteer Academy helps organisations to ensure that their volunteer programmes are high quality with relevant structures, support mechanisms, policies and procedures in place to support their volunteers. Essentially, this is aligned to the Investing in Volunteers standard through the Volunteer Charter.
The Academy encompasses 5 key areas for Volunteers:
- Volunteer Brokerage: to find the most suitable/appropriate volunteer role.
- Pre Volunteering: personal development and confidence building through Step Up to Volunteering and buddying/mentoring.
- Induction: a generic induction programme covering Health & Safety; Equality & Diversity; Safeguarding; Information and Data Protection.
- Personal Development Planning: to identity and record individual learning and development needs, goals and aspirations.
- Ongoing support: quarterly meetings to review personal development plans. Mentoring; buddying; learning and development; progression to other opportunities eg training, education and employment.
- Volunteer Passport: designed to make volunteering more portable and provide a mechanism for recording volunteer activities and achievements. The Volunteer Passport enables volunteers to move through their personal volunteer journey seamlessly and aims to provide more streamlined and efficient volunteer recruitment processes for volunteer involving organisations.