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 Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!

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Klaudia Suchorab



Number of posts : 5
Registration date : 2011-08-05

PostSubject: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:20 pm

Hello,

I am from the Volunteer Centre Midlothian. Would you like to make a difference to Midlothian? We are doing a survey about the impact of volunteering on the area. You DO NOT have to be a volunteer and our survey takes only 5 minutes. It is really short and simple and it is completely anonymous. By taking part in this survey, you will influence the outcome of the community planning meeting and you also have a chance of winning our 20 voucher. We need plenty of participants so please tell your friends and family about this survey. It is really important for people to take part as currently we do not really know how many people are volunteering, where they are volunteering, what they are doing and also who volunteers in general. Your opinion is extremely important to us. Here is the link to our survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W9RQLM9

Thank you in advance for your help! Good luck with winning our 20 voucher.

Kind regards,

Klaudia Suchorab
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pitsgate



Number of posts : 154
Registration date : 2007-09-01

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:29 pm

Please forgive my cynicism but in the 40 years that I lived in Penicuik I must have seen this or a similar appeal or proposal or survey or something with such regularity you could almost tell the date by it.
Somebody managed to screw another couple of K out of the budget somewhere?
What I have never yet seen is any positive outcome to the benefit of local people from all the street surveys and questionnaires (always with some sort of "incentive" to persuade people to take part).
Nobody in all that time has explained to me what the purpose of a "Volunteer Centre" is, why it needs to know how many people volunteer or where or what or who.
Or why. In fact I suspect their definition of a "volunteer" is something quite different from that of "real" people who would include helping to run their local sports club or activities at their local church and who would be only delighted if "Volunteer Centres" would either (a) let them have a little bit of the cash they spend on Co-ordinators and Managers amd Researchers (and their research) or (b) just back off and leave people who want to help out in their community to just get on and do it.
And as for "your opinion is important to us", add that to "the cheque is in the post", I'll call you in the morning", and (most apt) "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
Forgive the rant but if you really want to know about voluntary work in a local community come and see how a French commune does it.
And all done without paid co-ordinators and "community planning meetings". Who would have thought?
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Klaudia Suchorab



Number of posts : 5
Registration date : 2011-08-05

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:05 pm

Hello,

Obviously you don't need to agree with our research aims but there's no need to be so cynical about it. The Volunteer Centre's role is similar to job centre, except that they are providing volunteer roles, instead of a paid job. So they have different offers of volunteering and people can just pop in, ask what's available and then get involved. Our role is to attract as many people to volunteering as possible and make it a good and valuable experience for them. Therefore this research aims at estimating how many people are volunteering out there, what sort of people are more likely to volunteer, what are the barieers, advantages etc. If you take part in the survey, you will know. I suppose criticising it before even having a look, is a bit too harsh and unfair. Once we have this information, we can focus on how to work with local community on planning and delivering better service and maybe expanding the whole voluntary sector.

I'm really sorry that there have been plenty of surveys like that out there during all those years but to me this one is a completely new thing. Especially because there is no accurate statistics on that here in Midlothian. Moreover, most of times, introducing some changes is not up to researchers. All I can do is to collect data and then the rest is up to community planning meetings what they're going to do with this data and whether they want to change anything or not. But before any change is introduced, you need to have reasons to do it and this survey aims at findind this reasons, making it a step closer to actually change something.

As a matter of fact, our definition of volunteering covers all the stuff you were talking about like running local sports club or activities in your church as long as your help is unpaid and you're not simply helping your family out.

Obviously, if you know how to get involved without help of Volunteer Centres, that's great for you but many people have no ideas how to do this and therefore they need someone to introduce them to couple of options so in this sense I don't think Volunter Centres are doing any harm to anyone. There are there for people who want to use them.

It's hard to persuade you but I meant it when I said I value people's opinion because obviously without people's participation this research wouldn't be possible and the sole purpose of it is to see what people think so people are at the heart of this project.

I hope my comment clarifies couple of things and knowing why we do the reasearch would help people spend less than 5 minutes to answer the questions. It doesn't do you any harm but helps us a lot. If you're still not convinced, just please at least spare your own nerves.
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pitsgate



Number of posts : 154
Registration date : 2007-09-01

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:45 pm

Don't mind me; I'm just an old grump.
But I've heard the same litany for the last 40 years. Always we can't find things to do for ourselves. Always we need someone to "co-ordinate" or "manage" or "let us know what's available", as if all the organisations that need volunteers couldn't find their own helpers or those keen to help are so useless they can't find local organisations that interest them.
The co-ordinators and the managers. of course, are not volunteers. It's a nice little career option. Usually paid for by the taxpayer. And, Klaudia, you are just the latest in a long line of people carrying out surveys and research into all sorts of aspects of "social welfare" or "community involvement" or "volunteering" all with the best of intentions which turn out, as Shakespeare said, to be "full of sound and fury and signifying nothing".
And my experience of being involved over the years in about nine different organisations at a variety of levels is that the most useless volunteer of all is one who "wants to do something but doesn't know what".
What are you interested in? I'm not sure. Well come back when you are; we'll still be here.
And the most useful are those that are already members of whatever it is they want to help with and have some longstanding interest in and/or are brought in by friends and neighbours and drinking cronies because it is the camaraderie that makes the volunteer effective. It has to be spontaneous or it doesn't last.

But good luck, anyway flower
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LothianLass



Number of posts : 49
Registration date : 2010-06-22

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:27 am

'...it is the camaraderie that makes the volunteer effective.'

A very good point, Pitsgate.

From experience there are far too many dictatorial 'community minded' individuals setting up organisations and projects who have over-inflated egos and an assumption that they know better than everyone else. Result? Maltreatment of the volunteer at best, downright bullying at worse.

Perhaps, Klaudia, a survey into incidences of bullying in the third sector would be useful. MVA were powerless to help me in my time of need.

There have to be respect and friendship along with a desire to work together to make volunteering a positive experiance for all concerned.
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Klaudia Suchorab



Number of posts : 5
Registration date : 2011-08-05

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:57 am

Hello again,

Pitsgate: I understand that if you hear the same litany for so long over and over again, it might be frustrating. But the thing is, believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there who want to do something because they've got spare time but they're not quite sure yet what to do. I don't know how that affects their involvement with volunteering once they actually start, but I know that because of that, volunteer centres function and have plenty of things to do. Sometimes also, you might know what to do but it's hard to find relevant opportunities and then you need someone to tell where to look for them or who is the best person to contact. I know in case of my volunteering, it was extremely hard to find the roles that suited me and I think I'm a committed volunteer. And still you're perfectly fine with having your own opinion about volunteer centres and other similar places and I'm not expecting you to agree with me that they're useful. I suppose if they weren't beneficial to at least some of people and if they didn't deliver expected results and if everyone would be just sitting aournd, doing nothing, these places would be closed. Volunteer centres are expected to show that they work is paying off and this survey partly is designed for this purpose as well, to see how many people volunteer, find the baseline and then see after couple of months of years if anything changed and if didn't change at all, despite the hard work put by volunteer centres, maybe it would be about time to decide that these places really are useless and the best thing to do would be to close them down. It's really hard to get funding and people who fund things like volunteer centres don't want their money to be wasted.

About this Shakespeare remark that you made, if everyone assumed that research is just a useless thing to do, then we would never progreess at all. If we give up right now, no changes will be made whatsoever. And the role of community planning is to actually make life better for people who live there and therefore to listen to people and to implement changes. Please, give us a chance.

About "useless" volunteers as you said, trhat's the whole point of volunteering as well, to try out things you think you can be interested in and to see if that's for you or not. Sometimes you can discover you've got passion for something you'd never expect or sometimes it can the other way round, you always thought you wanted to do something, but then once you actually volunteer and try this out, you see it's not for you. And it's all fine because you're giving your time for free and you're not expected to commit till the rest of your life so it's good to experiment, be open-minded, learn new skills and develop your own abilities.

I totally agree that the atmosphere in which you're volunteering is the most important thing. You can love something you, but if other volunteers or people you are cooperating with are hostile or are bullying you, then no matter how much you love your job, there's no point in staying there.

LothianLass: I'm really sorry that you were bullied when you were a volunteer. It should never happen and I'm surprised the organisation you were volunteering for, failed to help you when you needed them. I completely agree that it's worth finding out if people in the third sector are bullied and how often that happens but see, our survey right now is a really basic one, which is supposed to be a baseline for any further research and that's why we're so concerned with getting as many people as possible to participate. There's one question, asking what's stopping you from volunteering and if we saw that many people said "bullying in the third sector", then that would indicate that an action needs to be taken. Also, the Volunteer Centre Midlothian is working on improving management of volunteers in different organisations. They give trainings and advice, already trying toc hange things. Sadly, not everything is up to them.
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SueDOnym



Number of posts : 74
Registration date : 2007-08-22

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:09 pm

Poor Klaudia - here she is trying to gauge opinions for the survey, and this is the thanks she gets! I know from personal experience how hard it is to recruit volunteers, so surely any research into the subject has to be useful, especially if the end result might mean benefits for organisations throughout Midlothian?
Talk about a bunch of moaning old Minnies!
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Klaudia Suchorab



Number of posts : 5
Registration date : 2011-08-05

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:20 pm

SueDOnym: I'm quite happy to explain people's concerns about our survey, so I don't mind. It's also really hard to get anyone participating, even though it takes less than 5 minutes, so I'm really hoping that by explaining things, people will be less hostile or more interested and we will get couple of responses. Anyway, thank you SueDOnym for your kind words.
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rubbereye



Number of posts : 198
Registration date : 2008-02-13

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:30 pm

I'll be doing your survey right after I've posted this.

You're right about people sometimes being desperate to volunteer but sometimes .....

(a) not knowing who might want them

or

(b) not knowing who might best use of whatever abilities they have

or

(c) even fearing that they have no abilities at all or that they're not the "right sort" etc.

Saddest of all, they might not realise that there are many "Cinderella" charities who never get any funding or support whatever.

I once did some voluntary work for a well known Edinbugh based charity which, among other things had accumulated a huge amount of medical equipment including a staggering quantity of unwanted hypodermic needles which I was charged with getting rid of. That little task brought me into contact with one registered charity supporting drug addicts and another (now gone, I believe) that supported Edinburgh's street prostitutes. The druggie one was run by one man just trying to do his bit, and the street girls one was run by one woman. Both of them remarked that they weren't normally offered anything at all, so even the offer of a pile of needles for any needle-exchange programmes they might have was gratefully received.

They're are probably dog-knows-how-many similar registered charities, desperate, not just for funding, but for support and ideas, and especially at the less appealing and romantic end of the spectrum of need.
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rubbereye



Number of posts : 198
Registration date : 2008-02-13

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:39 pm

Just came back to say "dunnit" and to confirm that it's very simple and doesn't even take the five minutes the lady said.
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pitsgate



Number of posts : 154
Registration date : 2007-09-01

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:56 pm

Hey! If it works, I'm happy.
I'm just not holding my breath and I can't see why yet another questionnaire/survey is going to make a difference.

Sue
We all know how difficult it is to get people to help run things but surely you don't really believe that any research must be useful. It's a bit like the famous exchange from 'Yes Minister': We must do something. This is something; therefore we must do it.
Or the rhyme: When in danger or in doubt; run in circles, scream ... and do another research project! Rolling Eyes
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Klaudia Suchorab



Number of posts : 5
Registration date : 2011-08-05

PostSubject: Re: Volunteer Centre Midlothian Research Project - Please help!   Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:36 pm

Rubbereye: I totally agree with you. I'm a volunteer in two self-help support groups. Both of them are run just by one person and in both of them we struggle with funding and because we are not a big, registered charity, it is hard to get any help so we have to rely on kindeness of our group members to help us pay a rent. That's why I think surveys like that, which can potentially raise awareness of volutneering profile in the community planning or volunteer centres, which help to get volunteeres and necessary help, are so important. And thank you for doing our survey. I know it's so simple and doesn't even take 5 minutes but still we're struggling with getting people respond. We need plenty of people to have the best picture possible, so whoever took part in our survey, could you please send it to your friends or post it on your facebook page or any other social page that you use?

Pitsgate: Yes, completely agree not every research is useful but then we can at least know what didn't work out and what to avoid for the future. Unless you try, you won't know what can bring benefits and what can't.
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