January 26, 2016 at 12:07 am #12235
I’ve noticed that most events I’ve received emails about or seen advertised appear to assume that volunteers are either retired or unemployed and therefore available during the working day. If there is going to be continued reliance on volunteers going forwards, then surely it also needs to be recognised that many volunteers still have jobs to go to. Is it not perhaps time that Govt funded support systems are customer led and based around the availability of the local volunteers they are intended to support, rather than the other way round?January 26, 2016 at 5:05 am #12236
Our NP Steering Group has been going for 3 years now (we have just gone through examination stage) and 7 out of 10 members still work and 3 of us are retired (including me as Vice Chair). Its also a fact that most of the staff at our LPA are not usually available for evening/weekend meetings.
Today we had a key meeting with our LPA and we arranged for our planning consultant (funded by the Locality grant) to join those of us that were free – we are also fortunate that our Chair owns his own business and we scheduled the meeting so that he too could attend. On reflection, there is a definite benefit in having a chair that can take time off as well as having retired folk like myself. On other key occasions we have be able to persuade Planning officers from the LPA to attend evening/weekend meetings; it is, after all, part of their statutory duty to support and engage with us and they receive funding to to cover such eventualities (£5k on designation and £30k on examination/referendum).
Will ChapmanJanuary 26, 2016 at 6:37 am #12237
After working on a project where we relied on volunteers to support us the best time to meet appeared to be during the day as many were unable to commit in the evening due to family commitments however, a colleague had their best attendance during the early evening. You have to work with what fits with the people you need.January 26, 2016 at 8:38 am #12238
I think that’s my point. A volunteer “pool” is going to consist of a variety of people with different skill sets and time commitments, some non working, some working. That’s also a healthy mix. Therefore, ideally, volunteer based events could do with acknowledging that. Some events may be best during working daytime, others not necessarily, but perhaps more choice would help. The “live chats” on here for example, or other on-line events which are easily accessible from the comfort of home – no particular reason they have to be confined to daytime hours? Fortunately our LPA (Stafford Borough) was flexible and happy to attend our evening NP meetings at key stages. I was also able to have a quick chat or email exchange with the NP officer on the phone in the day when I had a moment. Back in my LPA planning officer days I also attended various Parish Council evening meetings when necessary, eg to help explain major planning applications I might have been dealing with.January 26, 2016 at 9:17 am #12239
With regard to our NP,the Steering Committee always met in the evenings as did the Working Groups except for a couple of visits to potential housing sites and our Countryside Working Group looked at footpaths at weekends. Our Borough Council always provided Officers for evening meetings without any problem. The members of the Steering Comittee were a mix of working or retired people and evening meetings were the best solution.
GuyJanuary 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm #12247
Thanks everyone for your comments on this topic. We do understand that not everyone will be able to attend or get involved with events at certain times of the day and it’s good to hear thoughts on this.
A lot of the online events are run by staff, so there won’t always be the availability for evening or weekend sessions, but it’s something that we will consider as an option wherever possible.
Events that require people to attend in person are a bit trickier as there are less of them and they have a wider cost implication than time, and it’s important that we are able to reach as many people as possible. It’s something that we will discuss with colleagues as to what could be arranged for future dates, and perhaps we’ll widen the discussion out to get some more peoples thoughts on what might work best. Agreed though, that a variety would be the best option!
Please encourage others to join this discussion – it’s good to hear what people think and will help us to plan effectively for the future
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