Learning from our Community Champion Volunteers
Our Community Champion Volunteers had a huge impact on Get Online week, and Hilary Nugent, our Volunteer Manager, reflects on what we have learned from the project.
From the beginning of September, our 5 amazing Community Champion Volunteers were extremely busy contacting our community partners to promote Get Online Week and ensuring that they know about the campaign and the resources available to them.
They made hundreds of calls and sent follow up emails to individual members of the Online Centres Network, discussing the campaign and encouraging people to join webinars and information sessions to find out more. Our Get Online Week volunteers provided a vital line of communication between us and our community partners. They spent time talking to centres across the country, helping us to understand some of the issues they were facing planning events whilst Covid-19 was still a concern. This also enabled us to ensure that our contact database was up to date.
Although we support our community partners with training and guidance around volunteering, working with our own volunteers in this focussed way was a first for us at Good Things Foundation. We have learned some extremely valuable lessons from our volunteers along the way, Carys from our community engagement team says:
“Working with volunteers brought new people, voices and perspectives into the organisation – we had a lot to learn from them.”
We were extremely heartened by the amount of talented and dedicated people who offered to volunteer and support the campaign. This has prompted us to recognise that volunteering is another way in which people can get involved with our organisation and the work we do.
Our volunteers have been able to work in a dedicated and focussed way that is not always as easy for staff members, who may have meetings or conflicting work priorities. This has added real value and depth to our work.
Having a dedicated volunteer manager, delivering specific training to our volunteers, and using our project leads to pass on the details of what was needed from the team has been a useful model. It has allowed a cost effective use of the volunteers time, as well as making sure that the volunteers were well trained and supported throughout the campaign.
One of the most positive outcomes of our Community Champion pilot has been their reaffirmation of what exceptional work that our community partners are doing. Every one of them has enjoyed talking to Online Centres and have become passionate advocates for their work. One of our champions will now be writing an essay in her Law Masters Degree about the importance of digital skills in access to justice, and another will be working on persuading her employer to join the Online Centres Network.
“The conversations with online centres have demonstrated the care and passion people have for their local communities.”
– Tanvi, Community Champion Volunteer
“I have enjoyed speaking to community partners who are really making a difference to get people online. Most centres are limited in resources and still adapting to change resulting from the pandemic, however they remain positive and enthusiastic about what they do and can offer.”
– Janet, Community Champion Volunteer
“It was humbling and rewarding to call providers who were struggling to recover from Covid restrictions & budget cuts. It was good to be able to reassure contacts that they were not alone & others were facing similar problems."
Working with our Community Champion Volunteers has been a hugely positive experience for all the staff involved. We are now looking at how we can extend the range and type of volunteer opportunities we offer, to ensure that as many people as possible join us on the journey to create a world where everyone benefits from digital.
Thank you to Tony, Tanvi, Janet, Kat and Emily for all your support.
Hilary supports our community partners with all things volunteering. This includes working with our funding partners to ensure that employee volunteering adds real value to the work of organisations providing digital skills in local communities, by building and developing the sustainability and skills of those organisations themselves. She also develops training materials and resources for our community partners to use.