Today marks International Volunteer Day. I’d like to take a few moments of your time to share with you perhaps a different angle to others you’ve seen before?
We don’t need to sell Scouting to you; the chances are you’re already aware of how amazing the opportunities, challenges and adventure young people in Penistone (and globally for that matter) gain from being part of such a fantastic youth organisation.
What you may not know, or perhaps have considered before, is that volunteering is both flexible and rewarding.
What do we mean by this?
There’s a common “joke” amongst many volunteering organisations; a throwaway line of, “It’s only two hours a week“.
This stems from some old school recruitment techniques to get adult volunteers in the door before loading them up with responsibilities that consume way more of their volunteer time than the “two hours”.
The reality and perhaps a better way of looking at this in a more positive manner could be to consider that each us is different. The amount of free time, our personal priorities in life, work commitments and drive all go towards what we both want to give and perhaps more importantly. what we can give as volunteers. No one should ever be criticised or made to feel they can’t contribute in some way, shape or form. Every volunteer is valued and make a difference to the young people.
We don’t play volunteering Top Trumps at Penistone Scouts’. We respect that some people can offer irregular/ad-hoc support whereas others can give lots of time and regular commitment. For most, the reality is somewhere in the middle.
It’s an interesting word and one that’s about the individual giving their time than the beneficiaries of adult support.
Most volunteers do so in a selfless way. They aren’t in it for themselves; they don’t expect “thank you” or a “well-done”, they do it because of the collective outcome – in our case, young people getting access to fabulous opportunities, personal growth, development through challenges, adventure and the spirit of teamwork. These and more are the fundamentals of Scouting’s #SkillsForLife.
These outcomes come in many forms:
- Seeing the joy and pride upon a young person’s face as they achieve something they never thought possible
- Young people leading and supporting other young people
- Engagement and enthusiasm around driving their own programme/events
- and many more…
“I don’t know how you do it”
Right after, “Thank you”, perhaps one of the most common phrases leaders hear as a parent picks up their child following an event, camp or even a section night is, “I don’t know how you do it“.
That’s okay, neither did we when we first got involved.
The reality is we have a fantastic group, a structured organisation, training and support to enable volunteering to suit any individual.
Not everyone wants to wear a uniform or be in a youth facing role – we get that; to be honest, we aren’t keen on the beige either and we’re holding out for an adult refresh soon! However, and this is often overlooked, you don’t have to wear a uniform, or be youth facing!
Wait, there’s more to scouting than section meetings?
You (hopefully) already know we have lots of section events on top of the regular weekly programme, we have trips, camps and large group level activities. We have 340 youth members at Penistone spanning 10 youth sections. To keep this going we rely upon the goodwill of both existing volunteers and helpers. In some instances, this will be through supplementing our adult presence and others to set-up, clear down or other logistics to make things happen/come together.
Alongside this, we have an executive committee who make up the group’s trustees. They are responsible and accountable for the charity behind Penistone Scouts’. Some of the committee members are also part of the section leaders, but for many, their involvement is non-youth facing.
We have a number of administrative activities that our section leaders need to maintain, from attendance, proficiency badge tracking, programme planning, budgeting and financial matters that, similar to the executive committee, do not require face time with young people. This is an area we really want to grow adult volunteering in at Penistone. Perhaps this is something you could help with?
We’ve already alluded to there being ample opportunities to make a difference at Penistone Scouts’. Whilst you don’t have to hold a specific role to volunteer, it’s sometimes useful to understand some typical roles:
Section Leader – responsible for a section, e.g. a Beaver colony or a Scout troop. Full training is given and a regular commitment needed.
Assistant Section Leader – supports the Section Leader. Again, full training is given. Some of our existing Assistant Section Leaders attend one meeting a month, other most of them – it’s down to what works for you.
Sectional assistant – an adult who supports a specific section. Minimal training required.
Occasional helper – an adult who is affiliated with the group and DBS checked etc. They aren’t necessarily tagged to a specific section.
Executive Committee – trustees of the charity with a formal training plan.
Individuals can hold more than one role, and that’s perfectly normal – as a collective we drive and deliver the winning programme Penistone Scouts’ is known for.
There are lots of ways to support the group; the above is a non-exhaustive list and we’re sure you’ve lots to bring.
I’m interested, what now?
You’re amazing – thank you.
You’ve several options, and we’ve one to suit your personal preference for communication.
In person: If you have a young person in the group, please talk to their section leader
Telephone: You can contact me (Rob) or Laura on 07919561265/07841343173 respectively
Email: [email protected]
Contact form: via our website here
Thank you and Happy Volunteering!