Volunteer managers play a hugely important role at the MS Society – and we’re lucky to have so many excellent ones! They’re the people who recruit, welcome and induct volunteers, ensure they get the training and support they need, and give feedback and thanks. They help to inspire volunteers and guide them to success in their roles. They’re also the point of contact for support and the person who can step in if things go wrong.
Here’s what a few of our volunteer managers – both staff members and volunteers themselves – think about supporting and coordinating volunteers:
- Tony Cardis, Group Coordinator, York Group:
“It's very rare that I use the title Group Coordinator... I'm Tony, one of the volunteers at the York Group, and that’s how I prefer it.
I make sure volunteers feel valued by listening to them and involving them in everything we do. They can contribute a little or a lot - it's whatever they feel they can do.
What I enjoy is the feeling I had after my diagnosis when I found a local MS group and realised I wasn't alone - to be able to think that others can feel this locally is enough for me. During COVID-19, we've used online facilities to offer seated exercise, yoga and meditation, and we've done this in conjunction with three other groups around us.”
- Shelagh Burgess, Group Coordinator, South Northumberland Group:
“As Coordinator, I support the rest of the team in their roles. Together we share ideas and plan. We’re all are committed to help improve the lives of people with MS.
In reality, trying to keep people focused is quite difficult. Holding interest and getting the group to gel and work together can be quite a challenge. Communication has to be the main skill required.
We’re all volunteers, but someone has to take the lead to offer the support someone may require, and to ensure policies and procedures and important information are relayed to the team and acknowledged.”
- Jenny Robertson, Public Involvement Manager:
Jenny involves volunteers in consultations about research projects we fund, and ensures our community has a leading voice in deciding how research grants are allocated:
“I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can support people living with MS to use their personal experiences of the condition to improve research and develop treatments for others in the future. Our volunteers don’t only give up their time to support our work, they do so in a very open way and are willing to share personal experiences so that they can help others. Their enthusiasm and dedication to our cause to beat MS will forever motivate me in my work. As will the regular pet photos that I receive!”
- Hannah West, Senior Campaigns Officer:
“Recently, I’ve been supporting a group of volunteers to coproduce our new local campaigning programme. It’s been really inspiring to be part of the incredible dedication and investment these volunteers put into producing the programme, developing fantastic new resources and training for people who want to campaign in their local area.”
Good volunteer management is crucial to providing the best possible volunteer experience, which in turn leads to the best possible services and support for people affected by MS. We’re so appreciative of everyone who leads and manages our volunteers. If that’s you – thanks for everything you do.
Our Volunteering Team have been listening to your suggestions about how we could improve training and support for our volunteer managers, and this will be a key area of work for the team in the coming years. If you have any feedback to add, please get in touch.