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These are exciting times for OnSide as all three of our new Youth Zones get ready to open. In particular The Factory Youth Zone (Manchester) reached an important landmark, as it welcomed its entire volunteer base into the new building, to experience and explore what the facility has to offer the young people they will be supporting. This is a key step towards official opening.
Recruitment, training and induction of volunteers within a Youth Zone is a significant part of the support OnSide offers, and so we met with Andy Jackson, Volunteer and Youthwork Development Manager to get an insight into the level of work goes into this task…
“The volunteering process starts by identifying what people a Youth Zone would need and where they are most likely to live, learn, work or play. It is a different approach from that which many organisations would take, but we believe meeting people where they already are, helps to accelerate the success of a volunteer recruitment campaign.
“By identifying the key roles needed within a Youth Zone enables you to strategically recruit in key locations such as workplaces, universities, housing offices and leisure facilities etc. It is vital that to coincide with this stage of developing a volunteer base, all communications activity provides strong and consistent volunteer messaging.
Key to a successful volunteer base is through involvement with a local business community and engaging employees.
“The next stage is to get your volunteer base, which have been interviewed and CRB checked, trained. Training essentially needs to be interesting and entirely relevant to the role expected of a volunteer. My experience tells me that when volunteers feel passionate about what they are doing they will learn more quickly and feel more comfortable within their role.
Recruitment and training are obviously important, but the critical success factor comes when volunteers move from training into active volunteering… will they stay?
“To ensure drop off doesn’t occur (inevitably some will, so be prepared for that) it is important to give volunteers a taste of the practical experience of being in the environment they will be volunteering within. Introductory and welcome events are a good way to do this. This combined with a supportive staff team, volunteers will easily embed within an organisation. This has already happened in Manchester and I can’t wait to see them in action in a few weeks time.”
Find out more about how OnSide can support your organisation by visiting our Services page.