Like all Volunteer Centres in New Zealand, Volunteering Central offers training and support to volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. This may be on establishing a volunteer programme, advocacy, communication, fundraising or attracting and keeping volunteers. For Volunteer Managers we have a clear message – to treat their volunteers as part of the overall team and ensure they know how they fit into the overall vision of the organisation.
I have spoken previously about how important this is for event based organisations. For some volunteers they may only be helping for a few hours in the lead up to the event and not actually present on event day. For others they may be helping for the entire time building up to the event and right though the event and clearing up afterwards!
I recently had a trip overseas and was lucky enough to spend the day at a music festival in Yorkshire, England. A very chilled out, family friendly festival, like many events it relies on volunteers to help deliver the three day event.
Volunteers were visible immediately – from entering the car park, exchanging our tickets for wristbands, running the children’s activities area and keeping an eye on punters in the huge tents that housed the stages.
I chatted to some of the volunteers while my daughter did some crafts and was so pleased to hear that they had volunteered the previous year and decided to make the 4 hour journey again to help out for the full three days. I also spoke to three guys who were enjoying a break and a bite to eat. Instantly visible by their t-shirts they stood out to me and I asked if they were enjoying their experience. All three had volunteered at the previous two festivals and once again had such a positive experience they had decided to return.
The festival was called Underneath the Stars and all volunteers stood out in their fabulous purple ‘Star Helper’ t-shirts. The festival had a wonderful atmosphere and it was clear to me from the interactions I had with the volunteers that everyone was enjoying themselves and that it was well worth them spending their time to help the festival take place and to ensure everyone there had a fantastic time.
Pictured: Star Helpers Steven Rob and John from the wonderful Underneath the Stars Festival.
My experience brought it home to me how vital it is to ensure that volunteers really are made to feel valued and part of the team – all working towards the same vision. A new festival, only in it’s third year, they seemed to have it spot on and I know if I lived in the UK I would be putting my hand up to help!