“Managing volunteers is the best part of my job!”

Tina Taylor is a Volunteer Coordinator for Scope’s Face to Face befriending programme in Halton in the North West. Jo Smyth is a Volunteer Coordinator in the Scope Retail Admin Team in London.

For this year’s International Volunteer Managers Day, we chatted to them about why they love working with Scope volunteers, and give us their top tips for effective volunteer management.

Tina Taylor

Volunteer manager for Face 2 Face Halton
Tina Volunteer Manager for Halton Face 2 Face

I originally got involved with Scope as a volunteer myself. I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome and wanted to do something to help me get out and about. I was also doing a degree in counselling at the time and befriending other parents of disabled children fitted in well with my existing commitments and interests.

Volunteering with Scope helped me to find a job working with disabled young people in my local area. Once the project came to an end, I was looking for other opportunities and came across the Face to Face role with Scope. I felt that the role was made for me, so decided to go for it, and got the job!

As a Volunteer Coordinator, I organise the befriending programme for parents of disabled children in Halton. All of my befrienders are volunteers, and I’ve got almost 16 volunteering with me at present. Often parents who are being befriended get so much out of it that they volunteer to become befrienders afterwards.

I love working with volunteers and matching up new befrienders with parents of disabled children who need support. It’s really satisfying to see the volunteers enjoying their befriending, and the parents get so much out of it too. Being a volunteer manager is very fulfilling. Getting to see my volunteers’ confidence build has been great and my team has really gelled.

Jo Smyth

head and sholders of woman in park
Jo Volunteer Manager for Scope

I started working for Scope at the beginning of 2016 in the Retail Admin Team. We support Scope’s chain of 230 retail shops and ensure they have the tools and resources required to run effectively.

I have a personal connection to disability and wanted to work for an organisation that is making the country a better place for disabled people. After a few months, I took on a new challenge and became the Volunteer Coordinator for my team.

I have managed volunteers before as part of a national project linked to the 2012 Olympics. In this role I worked with volunteer ambassadors who ran a series of maths and science challenge competitions in schools. I enjoyed this role and was keen to work with volunteers again.

In my team I currently have five volunteers. They’re all from different backgrounds and have different reasons why they chose to volunteer with Scope. I’m a real people person, so have loved getting to know my volunteers. Coaching them and seeing them develop and grow is a really rewarding part of my role. I like to give my volunteers the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities in a safe environment where they can ask questions and try things out. Being a volunteer manager is definitely the best part of my role.

If you’re a volunteer manager, or are looking to become a volunteer manager, here are some top tips from Tina and Jo on getting the best from your volunteers.

  1. Appreciate your volunteers and say thank you for all their hard work. We write thank you cards for volunteers for National Volunteers’ Week, and also organise thanks events and get-togethers throughout the year to show our gratitude.
  2. Value your volunteers’ time and commitment. They give up their time for free and are making a commitment to your organisation. It’s important to respect this, and to allow them to fit volunteering in around their existing commitments. For example, one of our volunteers has some ongoing health issues, so we agreed that she would take a step back from her volunteering activities for now.
  3. Give volunteers opportunities to grow and develop. We both make time to talk to our volunteers about personal development and highlight relevant opportunities to them.
  4. Use coaching skills to get to know your volunteers and to help them work through any issues they may have. Coaching some of our volunteers has helped to work out what their next steps might be for them, such as looking for employment, or taking on a new project.
  5. Be organised! I (Tina) have quite a large volunteer team and I need to keep track of when and where they are doing their befriending. I use my diary to do this, which ensures that I know when my volunteers should be checking in with me, and helps to keep them safe. Being organised helps me (Jo) to keep a note of my volunteers’ birthdays and to make sure I have a card ready for them!

If you’re feeling inspired by Tina and Jo, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.

Find out more about International Volunteer Managers Day.