We’re delighted to have already had six forums this year, time has flown! Here's a round up of the last 6 months of Volunteer Coordinators Forums with some photos.
January was our first session, held at Volunteer Centre Sutton. We introduced the idea and created the foundations for the 2023 Forums, choose the name Volunteer Coordinator Forum (a bit snappier than a previous Volunteer Management Network Meeting) and decided on the following format:
- 9.30-10.00 a bit of networking with tea and coffee at the beginning
- 10.00 a topic of the month
- Moving onto a general open discussion and way to help one another
- By 12 noon, a soft finish with extra chance to chat, finishing early if it turns out that way.
February was focused on The Big Help Out campaign and the Sutton Volunteer Showcase preparations. We tested our first hybrid session with some people joining us in person and others joining virtually.
March was our first session out and about in the borough, kindly hosted by the new Family Hub at Sutton Central Library with Caroline Watson from Sutton Cultural Team talking about Volunteer Recruitment and Retention. We had a really great turn out, including two work experience students, and a lot of interest in sharing best practice.
April was back at Volunteer Centre Sutton with a hybrid session on the very popular topic of DBS and Vetting led by Irene Jordan from Sutton Befrienders. This was the same week as the Sutton Volunteer Showcase so a lot on that week!
May took the Forum out again to visit Sutton Community Farm. This was a lovely session that included a really interesting talk from Sonia Cropper on Crowdfunding and ended with a tour of the farm. It was great to see their fruit and vegetable growing in action for their local veg boxes. Sonia was particularly keen to show us their new stone fruit crop and we saw volunteers in action preparing the tomato plants for summer harvest. It was a busy day with volunteers so we felt the buzz in the air as they gathered together for their break, tucked into tea, toast and homemade jams and excited talked about their upcoming Volunteer Party.
June was another farm trip, just down the road from Sutton Community Farm on Telegraph Track to Old Lodge Farm where Downlands Partnership are based. This time along with a small vegetable patch and wildflower nursery, we saw their chicken coop and orphan lambs. Their volunteer Alex joined us for parts and we heard about their amazing volunteer who lovingly tends their wildflower nursery. The topic was Volunteer Conflict and was such a dynamic session it ran well over until after 1pm with so much discussion.
We got great feedback including:
"I can’t thank you enough for organising the whole thing, it has been one of the most enjoyable, refreshing and relaxing days I have had for some time."
"Thank you so much for inviting me to the event today. It was great and I really enjoyed it. I definitely think that they are useful and are very important for us to develop our own programmes."
If you would like to join our next one, our July session will be at Hill House and Garden. We'll be learning about their “Volunteer Flashmob” experience where over 60 Hong Kongers on one day descended upon their site and transformed it. This will be the last one before we take a break in August and come back in September.
You can see upcoming dates and topics as they are confirmed here. Any questions or if you would like to join, email NatashaBlok@vcsutton.org.uk. All are welcome!