Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Dundee and Quality Scotland have joined forces in a bid to improve and support volunteer practice across the nation.

The three bodies are currently undertaking a review of the sector’s quality standards, the Volunteer Friendly Award and Investing in Volunteers, to ensure they are fit for purpose.

Investing in Volunteers Award is managed in Scotland by Volunteer Scotland. Adrian Murtagh, Head of Business Development at the national centre for volunteering, said: “After nearly two decades of the status quo, we all agree it’s time for a refresh. We recognise that individually these awards are not currently meeting the needs of all organisations, particularly those of small community-led groups. We want to inspire quality across the full scope of volunteer practice, from local groups to national charities. At the heart of the review is a desire to create a positive volunteering experience for all of Scotland’s 1.26 million volunteers.”

The review will also look at how the two awards can be aligned to create a quality pathway for Scotland.

Eric Knox CEO of Volunteer Dundee, which designed the Volunteer Friendly Award, said: “This review is about ensuring as best we can that organisations whatever their size are supporting their volunteers to the highest quality standard. Our aim is to work more closely together to support continuous improvement, allowing organisations to progress from one award to the other.”

Volunteer Scotland and Volunteer Dundee will also be working alongside Quality Scotland, which runs a business model to help organisations improve their organisational practices.

Ann Pike, Head of Business Development at Quality Scotland said: “This exciting partnership will provide groups and organisations with a wider choice and a better understanding on when and where to apply for the different quality awards. By improving the level of support on offer, we hope it will encourage more people to take care of their volunteers and share best practice with other organisations.”

The outcome of the review is expected in September 2019.

AWARD CASE STUDIES

There are currently 250 Volunteer Friendly Award achievers and 80 Investing in Volunteers achievers throughout Scotland covering a wide range of activities and services, from community clubs and groups to statuary services and national charities.  A few organisations have already progressed from achieving Volunteer Friendly status to the Investing in Volunteers award including:

Kate Williamson of Healthy Valleys said: “Healthy Valleys is a community led health improvement initiative based in South Lanarkshire. We are heavily supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who deliver services to a huge variety of people who need extra help. We have successfully renewed our Volunteer Friendly status and, having recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, we made a successful funding application to engage a project officer and administrator to work towards the Investing in Volunteers accreditation. Having achieved the Volunteer Friendly award, it seemed a natural progression to aim for the Investing in Volunteers standard to ensure best practice relating to volunteer involvement and management. With the help of the Investing in Volunteers Assessor, the process has been very thorough and will undoubtedly assist in Healthy Valleys providing a professional approach and valuable experience to all our volunteers.”

Natalie Burnside of Volunteer Midlothian said: “At Volunteer Midlothian we have achieved both the Volunteer Friendly Award and Investing in Volunteers accreditation over the past couple of years. We found both processes to be very useful for our organisation for several reasons. Firstly, they allowed us to dedicate time really focussing on our processes and procedures for managing volunteers and making significant improvements. For example, we reviewed our Volunteer Handbook and developed a much more user-friendly, accessible booklet. Volunteer Friendly and IiV have also been very useful in terms of us promoting best practice to other local organisations. I would say Volunteer Friendly was more focussed on the paperwork side of volunteer management and involved producing a portfolio of evidence, whereas IiV focussed more on volunteer interviews, finding out about their experiences with our organisation. Therefore, I would recommend going through both awards if you can as they really complement one another, and we felt as an organisation that they really motivated us to reflect on and improve our processes.”

Sarah Shaw of Sight Action said: “I found the Volunteer Friendly Award really confirmed to me, my line manager and Board of Directors that the Volunteer Service was based on firm foundations. The evidence gathering helped me not only to tidy up my filing, but to complete a procedures manual.  Once I got my head round the process, I did not find it too difficult. I dedicated time to do it to help me focus. Regarding Investors in Volunteers, I had been involved with it before, so I had an idea of how it worked. It was obviously much more involved than the Volunteer Friendly award, but once we had the initial presentation from our assessor and a focus group was established, I worked on one indicator at a time. I had time set aside on a regular basis to work on it and I found it reasonably easy and satisfying to complete.”