Community Champions are people who are already involved in community projects from across the country so have loads of interesting insights on making community projects work.
Keep reading to find out what they said. To read the full discussion and meet the participants, head over to the Just Act Forum.
Carole: I’ve found it works better if we make it fun and not like hard work. I love live music and live in a great area with lots of local pubs, hence one of the best consultation event was a music gig, showcasing new local talent. Over the course of the day/evening we had over 300 people call in and participate in a survey. Make it fun, keep it simple, focus on real outcomes and let people know how they can get involved or [find] further information.
Ralph: It’s quite difficult for us to access additional volunteers due to the two years training required in order to develop the competency in training our sport, plus add in DBS checks and finding the right person. It’s one of the things which has held us back from growing.
2. Finding volunteers using technology or ‘traditional’ advertising
Sandra: We have recently been working on increasing our volunteers and have found Facebook an excellent tool. It is essential that regular updates and replies are posted to capture interest. To get more volunteers involved we encourage our existing members to contact their “social circle”, thereby reaching a wider audience and invite interest from a new group of people.
Carole: A Facebook page is essential and you need to respond quickly, we ran a few competitions to name the bakery, choose the logo and kept people updated of progress daily. Downside is you can spend all your free time online.
Rich: We had two types of volunteers: local people who want to help out (this was advertised through community newsletters and social media) and drama students from Hull University who offered free workshops to the public (direct contact through the department and via email).
Ralph: We have leaflets; we also get heavily mentioned within a local news letter regularly. The rest of the publicity is word of mouth. I feel we would engage more young people if [our] local authority worked more in partnership with us.
3. How to keep people engaged with your project
Rich: We did find that getting people involved on a voluntary basis was a little risky, as one or two dropped out last-minute. However, we’d actually recruited more than necessary just in case. If no one had dropped out, we’d have still found stuff for them to do.
Carole: The difficult bit comes keeping people engaged, I recently launched a community share to save a historic bakery, we used social media as the starting based, followed by lots of local events to raise the issue.
4. Valuing your volunteers and the skills they can bring
Ralph: It’s a little bit trickier for [our sports organisation] S2S to recruit volunteers than perhaps other projects due to our requirements needed to be a coach. But I would probably benefit from volunteers helping out with marketing, web design and other areas outside of the gym environment.
Sandra: When we get an interested volunteer I make sure that we get to know them and find out what their interests and skills are so that they feel valued and can be utilised in a way that they feel useful doing something they are good at.
Rich: The top priorities [for the volunteers for our project] were to make sure that all responsibilities were covered whilst making everyone feel valued and a part of the festival.
Keep an eye out for the next Just Act discussion the week commencing 18 August 2014 and if you have a question or a story to share, the Just Act Forum is always open!How do you get others involved in your community project?,