Making your volunteer roles more accessible

“All too often organisations begin with the volunteering opportunity, and then try to find the person to fit it. For volunteering to truly become something that makes a difference for all, we as a sector need to work together to ensure that potential volunteers are better able to shape opportunities based on their interests and needs?”

Common barriers to volunteering and how to overcome them.

Some people find getting into volunteering difficult and don’t know how to even get started. But it’s not as difficult as you might initially think. Volunteering doesn’t have to take up a huge amount of your time, and despite the common perception, you don’t need to have a great deal of experience, expert knowledge, or a special set of skills.

In their 2022 Community Life Survey, Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) found many reasons why people didn’t volunteer regularly, or at all. These included:

  • Work commitments.
  • Childcare responsibilities.
  • Health issues and/or a disability.
  • Caring responsibilities.
  • Lack of spare time.

 

Although other research also finds that people face many more barriers to volunteering and have their reasons for not volunteering, and these include not having enough time to volunteer, lacking confidence or having low self-esteem, experiencing difficulties with transport, and being worried about expenses associated with volunteering.

Celebrating Volunteers Overcoming Barriers

We know that for some people, the barriers to volunteering might appear impossible to overcome, but when you can break them down and get involved in your community, it really is worth it! We wanted to emphasise this and celebrate barrier-busting with some of the incredible volunteers in Stoke-on-Trent.

Funded by the Know Your Neighbourhood funding from the Community Foundation for Staffordshire, we were able to welcome volunteers to three afternoon tea workshops across the city, celebrating with more than 80 volunteers from over 30 local voluntary sector organisations.

In a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, we chatted with volunteers about what gave them the push to take the leap into volunteering, and how that experience could have been better for them. These celebration events also gave volunteers from the local area opportunity to meet and socialise with each other and make connections at a hyper-local level. Many commented that they didn’t realise how many other volunteers and opportunities there were so close to them, and described the session as a really supportive, open and sharing environment.

You can find more information on these celebrations and the feedback from local volunteers in this report we produced following ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ project. The report also includes some very positive quotes, photos, case studies, and videos with local voluntary sector organisations. You can find a copy of that report here: Full Know Your Neighbourhood Report March 2023

If you want to involve volunteers in your organisation…

Although the barriers to volunteering may seem like a long – and possibly at time, endless – list (also available in this infographic), you can easily overcome most of them with a few simple actions like:

  • paying expenses,
  • offering varied, flexible, and easily accessible volunteering opportunities,
  • being as inclusive as possible and making it clear that your volunteering opportunities are open to all,
  • providing appropriate training and support.

 

These are only a few of the ways to help break down those barriers. Our Volunteer Management training sessions cover this in much more detail. You can find the next training dates in our calendar.

We work together to support volunteer managers and recruiters to better understand the barriers that prevent people from participating in volunteering and help you to perfect your practices so your organisation can be inclusive to all. We’ll also spend as long as necessary getting to know someone so that when they are ready to take that first step on their volunteering journey with you, they can do it with confidence.

If you would like more targeted and detailed training and advice on overcoming barriers to volunteering, please get in touch.