Eastern Counties win Presidents XV Award for Volunteers
21 April 2011
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Well done to the Volunteering team at Eastern Counties for winning a Presidents XV Award this season. You can read the full nomination here but in short it is for putting in place structures to reward volunteers at clubs, and for giving clubs the tools to to help them recruit new volunteers and retain those they already have.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our game as without them the game as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. Volunteers rarely do what they do in the hope of any reward but a thank you or a small gesture is always appreciated. It sounds like an obvious thing to do but it is so easy to take our volunteers for granted and raising awareness of how valuable they are to our clubs and our game will help to keep them motivated.
The volunteering base in Eastern Counties have been gradually growing over the past few years, but as the numbers have increased so has their average age. Demands on volunteers have been getting greater with more accountability expected from clubs. Seal of Approval, CRB checks, CASC status, Incorporation; these are some of the things the RFU expects clubs to embrace or put in place, but they all need volunteer time to achieve, time that the average working person has less of. It’s not surprising therefore that club volunteers tend to be retired.
So how do we get younger volunteers involved? This is where I must confess to feeling some frustration. Eastern Counties has a database of about forty volunteers aged 16 to 24 who are willing to volunteer at clubs and at club events, and although this has been publicised several times not a single request to use them has been received. Recently Suffolk Volunteering had an evening at Bury St Edmunds RFC where, amongst other things, we were told of volunteers that are ready and willing to help in the sports sector. I almost hesitate to publicise the website where clubs can access these people as I wonder if rugby will use them but I will in the hope that someone does so.
Go to the Suffolk Volunteering website, register as an Organiser and please let me know how you get on.
The three Rs in Volunteering are Recruitment, Retention and Recognition. Recognition is relatively easy as long as you remember to do it, and by recognising and valuing your volunteers you are more likely to retain them. The difficult bit for any organisation is recruitment but there are people out there just waiting to be asked. Contact the Eastern Counties Volunteer Coordinator (Greg Underwood firstname.lastname@example.org) or one of our Rugby Development Officers (Lee Adamson email@example.com, Keith Green firstname.lastname@example.org or Sam Rouse email@example.com) and see how they can help your club access new volunteers.