Re-Form gets gold for quality volunteering in Middleport

Local heritage organisation in the Potteries has achieved the gold standard for volunteering at Middleport Pottery.

At VAST, we’re passionate about volunteering and provide the support voluntary organisations need to recruit, train, and retain volunteers. From beginning to end, we provide 1:1 support to Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) groups across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

Millions and millions of people volunteer in some way every single year and for many organisations, volunteers are the backbone of their operations. Without them, the number of people these groups support would fall significantly. That’s why it’s important to support volunteers effectively from the very beginning, and to get volunteering policies, procedures, and processes right.

So that we can continue in our passion to champion the huge importance of working effectively with volunteers, we have developed the ‘VAST Volunteering Quality Standards’. The scheme provides a framework which organisations can work towards accreditation based on their volunteering policies and procedures, and the way they work with new and existing volunteers.

Our vision for the quality standards scheme is to instil consistent volunteer-related best practice across the whole of the local voluntary sector through structured and proactive support.

Image shows a group of smiling people standing in front of shelves of pottery. The people at the fron t are holding a framed certificate.

One of the recent organisations who have worked their way through the scheme is Re-Form Hertiage. Re-Form Heritage is an independent Stoke-on-Trent based charity which specialises in the restoration and rejuvenation of heritage buildings at risk of decay or demolition. Re-Form Heritage’s objective is to transform these historic buildings into local assets, creating job opportunities and catalysing wider social and economic benefit.

Re-Form Heritage owns and manages Middleport Pottery in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Middleport Pottery was built by Burgess and Leigh in the late nineteenth century and is the home of Burleigh pottery. It is the oldest working pottery in the United Kingdom. The pottery was acquired by the charity in 2011 through a mixture of public and private funding and was fully restored by the charity and opened to the public in 2014.

The business developed by Re-Form Heritage ensures the long-term sustainability of the site, which, in addition to the production of the Burleigh pottery range, encompasses heritage and craft-based operations, including a visitor centre, café and other activities. Middleport Pottery is a model for future regeneration and preservation projects, having a significant and beneficial impact on the local community.

Lynne, Learning Officer and Volunteer Coordinator, is an active member of our Volunteer Managers Network. She heard about the Quality Standards at one of our meetings and thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity to review Re-Form Heritage’s approach to volunteering and show that they are following best practice.

Lynne meticulously documented the application and induction process, training programmes, feedback mechanisms, and support structures in place to ensure that volunteers felt valued and supported in their roles. Her attention to detail and dedication to upholding the Quality Standards truly showcased Re-Form Hertiage’s commitment to excellence.

“We were thrilled to be awarded the Gold Standard for our volunteers. Middleport Pottery is highly dependent on volunteers for their support. I was really pleased when VAST began to offer the chance to earn an award for the volunteering sector. I found the application relatively easy to complete as we already had a comprehensive Volunteer’s Handbook in place. The team at VAST were very supportive when I was compiling the evidence by providing guidance as regards to what was needed.”

Project Officer Sian was able to attend their most recent Volunteers Meeting to present them with their certificate in person. It was great to meet several volunteers, placed through VAST and hear about their experiences.

Well done Re-Form Heritage, keep up the amazing work!

Your organisation can also get VAST quality-assured through the Volunteering Quality Standards scheme. As long as you’re based in Stoke-on-Trent or North Staffordshire, and involve volunteers, you can access the awards free of charge.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone about the scheme, please email [email protected].