“Mutually Beneficial Volunteering” – Why JVN’s Good Practice Guidelines matters

This week I read an interesting article in the Guardian which was talking some of the issues raised by Volunteering England’s Volunteer Rights Inquiry, which identified problems experienced by volunteers and suggested suitable remedies – in the form of a pledge based on the 3Rs – getting it Right, offering Reconciliation if things go wrong and accepting Responsibility if the charity gets it wrong:

Click here to download the guide

I just couldn’t agree more with this pledge.  Being engaged with volunteers and taking responsibility for their wellbeing is critical for organisations.  It’s particularly critical in the wake of government and local spending cuts, as organisations are relying much more on volunteers rather than paid staff.  We’ve always felt so strongly about this that JVN published Good Practice Guidelines for Volunteering in the Jewish Community to ensure that the volunteer/organisation experience is mutually beneficial.

Here at JVN, we rely a great deal on volunteers to help us in our office.  One of them, Philip Cowen (z”l), recently passed away and I would like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to him.  Philip was an educated man, an Oxonian, a former lawyer, who spoke many languages.  He worked at JVN one day per week to call people about volunteering opportunities and was extremely well-mannered and very patient.  Having someone like Philip volunteer with us made me realise the importance of working with skilled volunteers with everything they can offer. But from our end, we had to give him close support and training to use computers and Excel to help him achieve his tasks to maximise his potential.

So, I really cannot stress enough the value of volunteers which is unleashed through giving the appropriate support.  Investing in volunteers creates win-win opportunities: volunteers bring a fresh perspective and add value to the organisation while gaining new skills and experience. It would be a huge mistake to take the unpaid for granted as free labour!  If you’re a volunteer and you don’t feel that you’re getting the right support to undertake your role, do read the Guidelines and bring it up with your volunteer coordinator or manager – you deserve better!

Talking about skilled volunteers, we are currently looking for a new JVN intern. This is a very varied role where the intern will be responsible for promoting JVN through its website, blog, twitter and facebook pages, as well as helping and assisting our team composed of 5 wonderful people – from event organising to visiting schools to promote volunteering. This role gives the opportunity to network within JVN’s partners as well as using new technologies to promote JVN, volunteering and organisations. And, putting our money where our mouth is, the intern will receive full training and support to achieve their potential.  If you think this role is for you, please email Joanne at joanne@jvn.org.uk.



Categories: Leonie's View


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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  1. RepairLabs » UK Import: Pledge to Protect Volunteers - August 22, 2011

    […] in the United States. If it does – please let RepairLabs know! Meanwhile – read the JVN post describing their contribution: the Good Practice Guidelines for Volunteering in the Jewish […]

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