Finding a new role as a volunteer

By Amy, CCVS Volunteer. March 2022.

Hello! It’s Amy here again and I’m writing about how to find a new voluntary role. If you haven’t done voluntary work before, it might help you to know how to go about it and this article should give you some guidance.

Voluntary work is similar to a job (but you don’t get paid for it). It can be quite daunting doing something new, but there are ways of getting support as you take this step towards volunteering. I can say from my own experience that it will be worth it! 

If you need support, get in touch with Ellie from CCVS who will offer you an informal chat where you will be able to discuss what kind of roles you’re interested in and all the steps you will need to take. At the moment meetings are only online or over the phone. That can be challenging for some, and you might want somebody to help you with it, but it’s good to try to do this independently if you feel that you can. This will show what you can do for yourself. Doing things for the first time helps build your confidence and can prepare you for future work interviews. CCVS knows a lot about charities and volunteering, and they can really help. If you’re uncomfortable with a 1:1 chat, there is an online group option which you may prefer.

You can get in touch with ellie@cambridgecvs.org.uk for more details.

Another option would be to ask people that you know (friends or family) who are already volunteering or can help guide you towards the right opportunities, but bear in mind that sometimes what works for them might not work for you. For instance, you may disagree on what kind of volunteering would be good for you.

Doing research on the internet might help (but you’ll need to know what you’re looking for). If you know the name of some places or organisations that offer the kind of work you want to do, you could look them up on Google and look at their website. Sometimes websites are not up to date, but whatever barriers you face in looking for voluntary work, don’t give up!  If you use social media (like Facebook or Instagram), you could look for opportunities on there.

Do- it website is dedicated to help matching people and organisations locally, but it can be a little bit difficult to use. However always a good starting point to see what is out there.

Visiting the place where you’re interested in volunteering might give you more of an idea if it’s right for you, but you may need to ring first to make an appointment. You’ll be able to ask to speak to someone about volunteering, if they are recruiting (which means looking for) volunteers and finding out about the application process. Visiting beforehand gives you a chance to see if the place would suit you, is it too busy, too noisy, too big, or will it send you into a sensory overload.

Every organisation or group that recruit volunteers have different procedures. You may be required to send a CV, an application form or cover letter or both. Some places may want you to come in and have an induction meeting and spend a bit of time working at the place to see what it’s like. In some cases, you may be asked to come for a meeting and then wait to be contacted about whether, and when you can start your volunteering. You may be asked why you want to do the role and what it is that makes you a good volunteer to take on and what skills you have. There will be an opportunity to talk to them about the kind of support that would help you best.

Myself and CCVS can help with interview tips, we’ll dedicate a whole piece on that alone in future.

No matter how it goes, do celebrate your achievement: it is challenging to find a suitable role, and you should be very proud of yourself for having taken the challenge on!

Taking volunteering to the public online 

By Chris Trevorrow. February 2022.

Bright yellow table, with computer keyboard and digital tablet
Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash

The last couple of years has resulted in many of us rethinking how we do things. In early 2022 CCVS decided to host some free online volunteer fairs, aimed at the public, to support local voluntary groups with the challenging task of recruiting the volunteers they need. Our aim was to capitalise on people’s New Year resolutions and the loosening of Covid restrictions and help raise the profile of volunteering for local groups. Although the fairs were tied in with the City Council Volunteer for Cambridge initiative, many of the groups involved are looking to recruit volunteers throughout the county. 

We know from research1 that to attract more people into volunteering groups need to be visible, accessible and flexible. People showed during the pandemic that they were interested in helping others, but now with their lives starting to return to something like normal, many feel they lack time to commit and don’t know where to find roles that are a good fit for them. Our volunteer fairs looked to highlight a few of the many volunteer opportunities available, with varying levels of flexibility and time requirements. It also gave people the chance to put a face to a group and invited them to ask questions and fill in a simple form or contact the group direct to hear more.  

We worked with 10 voluntary groups supporting them to produce 5-minute recordings outlining their volunteer opportunities. We hosted the fairs as two lunchtime sessions to which any member of the public with internet access could sign up and where the groups showed their presentations and answered questions live.  

As a result of a lot of promotional effort nearly 100 tickets were booked for the two fairs. Everyone who signed up to the fairs has received links to all the presentations and the contact form and have been encouraged to share the information with friends and family – we hope this will extend the impact of the fairs beyond the events themselves. 

The Initial feedback from the public suggests they enjoyed being able to easily hear about different opportunities and ask questions without leaving their desks or their homes. Some of the voluntary groups taking part have reported increased traffic to their volunteer pages on their websites and some have already seen an increase in people getting in touch to find out more about volunteering. We’ll be checking in with the groups to see if this increase in interest converts to more volunteers supporting their work in the community. If the feedback is positive, we’ll consider running more online fairs in the future. 

To watch presentations from groups who attended our Volunteer Fair in early 2022 visit this link

The presenting groups were: 

Care Network 

Caring Together 

Cambridge Reuse 

Cambridgeshire  & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust 

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Age UK  

Little Miracles 

Red Balloon of the Air  

Safe Soulmates 

Steel Bones  

The Red Hen Project 

We have more information about volunteering available on our website or you can contact us on volunteer@cambridgecvs.org.uk 

CCVS has a new Chair of Trustees – Welcome Flóra!

By Lorna Gough. February 2022.

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Flóra Raffai as the new CCVS Chair of Trustees.

Mark Freeman, our CEO welcomes Flóra and gives thanks to our outgoing Chair, Mary Sanders:

“I am really pleased that Flóra has been elected as the new Chair of CCVS and I am looking forward to working with her as CCVS moves into the future. I know that all the staff will join with me to welcome her into the new role. Flóra brings knowledge of the sector and a keen insight into the work we do, and I know that she will help us on to bigger and better things.

I am grateful to Mary for all the support she has given me, and the organisation over the years. Having such a knowledgeable and respected chair has been a real benefit to CCVS, and I am incredibly glad that she will remain as a trustee. Mary has overseen some big changes at CCVS and has helped to steer the organisation to where it is now. What is more she has helped me in the transition to the CEO role and I am hugely thankful for all she has done to support me.”

Flóra has been a CCVS Trustee since November 2018. Flóra tells us:

“I am honoured to be appointed as the new Chair of the Trustee Board at CCVS. Having previously benefited from the outstanding support CCVS provides to local charities, I am delighted to have an opportunity to give back. I am very much looking forward to working with my fellow trustees, the CCVS staff team, and the entire CCVS membership to champion local voluntary and community groups, the need for which has never been greater.”

Read more about why Flóra became a CCVS Trustee and what she enjoys about the role in this blog written for Trustees’ Week 2021.

Welcome to the role Flóra!

Zoom in on zoom session – Volunteering for All

By Ellie Lee, Volunteering Development Worker and Amy, CCVS Volunteer. November 2021

Recently, we, (Amy and Ellie) organised the first online session dedicated to supporting people with disabilities to find out about volunteering.

In preparation we produced some stylish slides to help us remember what we wanted to say and to remind us to introduce ourselves. (It would not have been the first time I, Ellie, failed to introduce myself and just started to talk! 😊)

During the session we explained our roles, Ellie’s as the Volunteering Development worker at CCVS and Amy’s as an incredible CCVS volunteer who has been with the project since it was born. Ellie talked about how she supports clients, inviting them to a 1:1 interview, to help them untangle doubts about volunteering and encourage them to explore different opportunities.

Amy did a great job of explaining how important volunteering is to her and talked about all the roles she is currently undertaking. She volunteers in an EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospice) charity shop in Cambridge, she assists at two Tai Chi classes, she helps organise the Funky Club (a night club for people with disabilities), and of course, she is a valuable CCVS volunteer and helps Ellie organise events such as the volunteer Walk and Talk and online sessions. Amy also produces articles and media content. Keep an eye out for Amy’s future blogs for more details of her volunteer roles.

We met some very enthusiastic people at our first online session, some of whom are already volunteering, and some who want to begin to get involved with local community projects.

There are many different options for volunteering and attendees shared experiences, and inspiring reasons for getting involved. We discussed the many benefits of volunteering, how rewarding it can be, and how it can improve confidence and skills. People often think that very specific and professional skills are required, but we also discussed how everyone has skills to offer, even though they may not be aware of them. Lived experience, empathy and enthusiasm make a good foundation.

We encouraged everyone to think about how to start their volunteer journey and had a conversation about breaking it down into manageable steps. By the end of the session, we were able to point one participant in the direction of one of our lovely local charities, and by the end of the day a meeting had already been arranged.

We’d like to thank everyone who joined us and for their enthusiasm and interaction.

We were both very happy with the first trial session, and we are looking forward to many more!

Do get in touch if you would like to join us in future.

Ellie and Amy

I feel honoured to be part of the organisation, by Flóra Raffai. Trustees’ Week 2021.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work and/or volunteering experience.

My name is Flóra Raffai and I have spent my career leading charities and non-profits, predominantly in the health and education sectors. Alongside work, I have volunteered as a mentor for small rare disease charities and I am currently working towards becoming an accredited transformational coach. I am driven by my passion to help people live their best possible lives and to make the future a brighter place.

Why did you become a trustee of CCVS?

I became a trustee of CCVS three years ago, in November 2018. At the time, I was the Chief Executive of a local charity that was a member of CCVS. I had greatly benefited from the membership, having attended useful training events and networking sessions. Working at a small charity, it can be difficult to know where to get information and who to turn to when you are stuck. CCVS provides that trusted, supportive guidance you need so that you can do your best in working with your community. When I heard that CCVS was looking to recruit new trustees, I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the organisation that had given me and others like me so much.

What does your role as a trustee entail?

Along with my fellow trustees, it is my role to oversee the charity’s management, administration, and strategy. The board of trustees has ultimate responsibility for the charity, to make sure it fulfils its aims and creates benefits for our community. From a practical point of view, this entails attending our quarterly trustee meetings to review the charity’s strategic and financial position, working closely with CCVS’s excellent CEO Mark Freeman to give advice on new initiatives and funding bids, and taking on additional responsibilities to support the team when needed. At the moment, I am also coaching two members of the lovely CCVS team.

What do you most enjoy about the role?

I most enjoy seeing the impact of CCVS’s work on the Cambridgeshire community and voluntary sector. I love reading our annual report, which summarises all the work done across the year to support hundreds of small groups and charities. I feel honoured to be part of the organisation and play a small part in making sure the charity continues to act as a multiplier for the community.

What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a Trustee, particularly if they are unsure whether it is a role they could undertake? What do they need to consider?

The most important thing to consider before you become a trustee is whether you have enough time available to do a good job. A trustee role comes with legal responsibilities, so you want to make sure you have enough time to review papers, attend the board meetings, and respond to support requests. Talk to the charity to find out what time commitment they are expecting and when those time commitments take place (e.g. during the workday or outside working hours). Be honest with yourself and the charity about what you can take on.

I would highly recommend becoming a trustee, especially of a small local charity. If you have benefited from a charity’s services and support, then you have valuable lived experience that can be hugely beneficial to the charity’s board of trustees. If you have a background in finances, legal, people management, strategy, communications, service delivery, all of these skills can enhance a board of trustees and expand the knowledge within the team. If you have passion for the cause and time to help out, then you can make a real difference to a small team who need more hands on deck.