How do we build an inclusive programme?
Having volunteers involved in your activities and organisation is great. They bring new capacities, abilities and perspectives. We believe that everyone should be able to contribute as a volunteer, so we want to help you make sure your volunteering programme is as inclusive as possible.
This section helps you to think about why you and your organisation need volunteers and how to prepare your organisation for them. On page 2 you can read about how to make it easier for everyone to join in with volunteering as well as finding out from Disability Rights UK about engaging disabled people in volunteering.
Why do you need volunteers?
Key question to ask yourself – does everyone in your organisation understand why you need volunteers and how to support them?
Building an inclusive volunteer programme is much easier to achieve if everyone in the organisation is committed to it. You will need to help staff understand the importance of developing a diverse volunteer base. Volunteers bring in new ideas, reflect the community, offer a wider range of experiences, skills and perspectives and contribute to making projects and activities more sustainable. But you will also need to recognise that staff also need to be provided with the relevant resources, skills, experience and awareness to involve and support people from diverse backgrounds and those with additional needs or a disability.
Volunteers can add great value to what an organisation does.
There are many ways volunteers can support your organisation. For instance volunteers can:
- Support delivery or lead activities
- Inform the development and delivery of your work by bringing in new ideas, approaches or perspectives
- Help identify opportunities to improve what you do or what you offer
- Help to communicate with your target audiences and engage with hard to reach groups
- Help promote – for example on social media, or by circulating flyers and posters
- Help people to get to venues for activities
- Help with administration
- Support events in numerous roles – in the preparation and during
- Support people to participate in activities
- Help with evaluation – e.g. collecting case studies
- Raise awareness about your cause or project as well as your organisation to profile what you do
Prepare your organisation
To make the most of volunteers, and for them to make the most of their experience, your organisation will need to be ready. To prepare your organisation, consider that you might want to:
- Consult with relevant stakeholders within your organisation
- Plan for volunteers’ voices to be heard within the organisation
- Create or update your volunteer policy
- Have named contacts for volunteers and resources in place to offer adequate support and supervision to all volunteers
- Prepare for supporting volunteers with additional needs or a disability
- Prepare for supporting young volunteers (if recruiting volunteers under age of 18)
- Check and ensure volunteers’ insurance
- Check and address relevant policies e.g. safeguarding, health & safety
- Budget to reimburse volunteer’s out of pocket expenses
- Inclusive volunteer recruitment and training processes planned
- Clear to all the role volunteer’s play within the organisation
- Impact on service delivery and paid staff considered
- Manage expectations- Volunteers complement and supplement but do not replace the work of paid staff
To think about
Ensuring your volunteer programme is inclusive shouldn’t be a trial – it is simply about considering everything you can and should do to support people of all abilities to take part. Take time to think of any potential barriers forvolunteers with additional needs or a disability. Here’s some areas you may want to consider with that in mind:
- Venue / Locations / Activities
- Risk assessments
- Number of volunteers needed
- Number of participants anticipated
- Health and Safety
- Recruitment procedure
- Support for volunteers – including during recruitment, induction, training etc.
- Process for feedback and evaluation
- Volunteer Recognition and celebration
- Volunteer retention
Top tip on insurance and volunteers
Ensure that you have insurance cover for volunteers – both for their age range and for the roles they will carry out. Check with your insurance company what your volunteers are covered for, and ensure that you communicate this to the volunteers also.
Sign up to the Disability Action Alliance Volunteer Charter
Make a pledge to sign up to the charter and support the aim to increase the number, value and accessibility of opportunities for disabled people to volunteer their time, skills and experience.
Download – Disability Action Alliance Volunteer Charter