Public sector partners launch new initiative to understand more about their volunteers
Today (Thursday 5 December 2013) is International Volunteers Day, and a new initiative is being launched in Shropshire to discover more about how volunteers make a difference in their communities and how this can be better co-ordinated in the future to achieve even more with more people.
Volunteers In Public Service (VIPS) wants to understand about the systems that are currently in place to enable people to volunteer for public services, whether it is with the council, police, fire and rescue, health or education.
The project also aims to investigate what motivates people to volunteer and get involved in doing the things that add huge value to the delivery of public services.
Activity planned for early next year includes lots of engagement with volunteers, the organisations which currently co-ordinate volunteers, and the different areas of the public sector where volunteers make an impact.
To help with bringing everyone together, there will be a workshop and a celebration of current “VIPS”. All the evidence and learning that is gathered will be used to inform how public service volunteer co-ordination is done in the future.
Superintendent James Tozer, of West Mercia Police, is championing the scheme and said it was important to make it as straightforward as possible for people to volunteer.
“International Volunteers Day seems a good time to start talking about the VIPS initiative. It’s very early days but I think it is vital that we actively coordinate all the different processes that are currently out there to make it easier for people to get involved.
“All of us in the public sector are saying we want people to be more active in their communities, so it’s down to us to make it as simple as possible for those people who feel able to volunteer.
“There are already thousands of amazing volunteers and volunteer groups in Shropshire and the VCSA, as well as other areas, and we are not looking to replace or change that. This initiative is specifically looking at coordinating activity between, and for, the public sector agencies.”
Councillor Gwilym Butler, whose Shropshire Council portfolio includes partnership working, said:
“This is a very positive initiative and it’s a great chance for people to get involved and help shape how volunteer recruitment and co-ordination for the council, police and others could work in the future. We don’t claim to have all the answers, so we will be talking to people on all sides of the volunteering fence about how it can be better for everyone.
“We would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved.”
Jackie Jeffrey, Chair of the VCS Assembly, added:
“It is encouraging to see public sector organisations in Shropshire not only valuing the important role that volunteers play in delivering local services but also working to support more public sector staff to volunteer. As the project develops, members of the VCS Assembly will be keen to work with public sector bodies to consider where volunteering is appropriate and how volunteer support can be provided through joint working.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the work to help make VIPS a success can get in touch with Kate Garner, locality commissioning manager at Shropshire Council, by emailing email@example.com