Involving volunteers in your service

Volunteers have a long established place within the delivery of health and social care services and are increasingly seen as part of the integrated health and social care team, adding significant value to the work of paid professionals. Health and social care service users value volunteers’ support as they are there because they want to help, not because they are paid to do so. In addition, volunteers often have personal experience of cancer and are well placed to empathise with and support service users sensitively. Volunteers frequently carry out tasks that fall outside the scope of health and social care professionals and can provide a person-centred approach by being available at the right time in the right setting.

What types of activities can volunteers do?

There are lots of ways volunteers can support health and social care services funded by Macmillan. Examples include, providing advice and information, meeting and greeting, complementary therapies, administration, arranging events, sitting with service users waiting for appointments, filling in forms, making phone calls and befriending. A number of suggestions can be found in The value of volunteers report [PDF].

How do I involve and manage a volunteer?

You will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the volunteers in your service and should be involved in the interview process for new volunteers. If your organisation employs a volunteer coordinator make sure you are both clear about the responsibility for induction, support and management. You will also need to familiarise yourself with your organisation's key volunteering policies and procedures, for example, data protection, right to volunteer, volunteer expenses, insurance, lone working and health and safety. Speak to your volunteer coordinator about these.

Managing volunteers uses a lot of the same skills as managing paid staff, coupled with really good people skills. You need good organisation and communication skills, and to be able to understand what motivates each volunteer. Macmillan runs a training course that can help you develop your volunteer management skills and prepare you to involve volunteers in your work.

Macmillan has also developed the Macmillan Volunteering Quality Standards (MVQS), a volunteer management framework that complies with current volunteering legislation and best practice. You can use this framework to ensure that you provide a high-quality and consistent volunteering experience to each and every volunteer who gives their time to your service.

What support can Macmillan give me when I am working with volunteers?

Macmillan employs volunteering advisers who work with Macmillan professionals across the UK. They can advise you on good practice, help you to plan recruitment of volunteers and provide you with training and individual advice to help you make the best use of your volunteers. You should contact your local Macmillan team for further details of how a volunteering adviser can help you.

Macmillan has also produced the following resources:

A best practice guide for all Macmillan information and support centre managers working with volunteers.

A best practice guide for all Macmillan social care professionals who work with volunteers. 

How to advertise a volunteering opportunity

Macmillan's volunteering section of the website allows you to upload all your volunteering opportunities. There are around 1,000 opportunities live at any one time, with about 12,000 visitors per month. If you would like to advertise your volunteering opportunity contact the volunteering team for a user guide. 

Contact your Macmillan volunteering adviser for more information

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