Friends of North Tyneside Project: New strategies for involving volunteers
Josie Robinson, Social Action Worker at VODA, one of the organisations funded through Give More Get More, shares the team's experience and what they have learned from focus groups.
VODA’s Friends of North Tyneside project will support 100 volunteers from the local area to take on short term, but intensive volunteering.
In preparation for our launch in September, we were inspired by the work of Nesta to develop new and innovative strategies for involving volunteers, organisations and colleagues in the planning of our volunteering programme.
With the help of our trusty friend, The DIY Toolkit, we held a focus group which guided potential volunteers through The Friends of North Tyneside Volunteer journey. We used this opportunity to gain a valuable insight into how the project would work, through feedback from members of the public.
While we found that our target group were intrigued by the idea of a new wave of volunteering, the message and programme content appeared to be too vague to capture people’s full attention.
Following this feedback, we then used resources from the DIY Toolkit - such as the experience map, fast ideas generation and business model canvas - to refine our programme model.
The programme content was also refined and we have now identified some potential social action projects that are currently being run in the local community. Aligned with our local authority, North Tyneside Council, VODA will support the 100 intensive volunteers in the following four key priority areas:
Ready for School - ensuring that children have the best possible start in life.
Working with the local community centre, The Cedarwood Trust, volunteers will provide day time activities for pre-school children.
Ready for Work – ensuring that residents have the skills to succeed in work and education.
Working alongside local businesses, volunteers will help improve the employability of school leavers from local SEND Stream schools, helping improve young people’s skills base.
Cared For and Healthy – protecting some of the most vulnerable people and ensuring they live long and healthy lives.
Volunteers will coordinate and organise leisure activities for vulnerable members of the community to improve well-being and reduce social isolation.
Great Place to Live, Work and Visit - improving the borough's offer to residents and visitors.
Volunteers will help support the renovation of the iconic Dome landmark in Whitley Bay, gathering and recording the memories of local residents on the history of the Whitley Bay dome.
These are just some of the potential social action projects volunteers might help support, and, from September, volunteers will start a 12-week programme of volunteering:
Week one - Team building
Teams will get to know one another through sharing experiences, skills, interests and activities.
Week two - Getting to know the local community
Local Authority and Voluntary Sector Organisations will deliver workshops relating to their project area of work and highlighting the issues affecting people in the community.
Week three - Project consultation and testing
Teams will explore what work they can complete on their project to make a difference in the community. Each team will consult the community for feedback, to find out how they can continue to improve what is already being done in the area.
Weeks four to 11 - The social action projects
Teams will dedicate this period to delivering their social action projects.
Week 12 - Reflection and celebration
Teams will reflect on their experience and celebrate their success.
Over the next few months, we will continue to refine our programme content, which is now called FONT (Friends of North Tyneside) and we will be busy recruiting volunteers to help us further develop this exciting new opportunity.
Photo credit: North Tyneside VODA