What is supported volunteering?
Supported Volunteering refers to schemes where volunteers receive additional support in order to carry out their volunteer roles.
A volunteer may require extra support for a variety of reasons. For instance, they could:
- be lacking in confidence after a long period of unemployment
- have physical disabilities or health conditions
- have learning disabilities
- have mental health issues
- be homeless
- be striving to break patterns of negative behaviour, such as gambling or drug misuse
- be a non-English speaker
Types of support
The support offered can take many forms, and will depend on the individual volunteer’s needs. For instance, the Volunteer Manager may meet with the individual to discuss their needs and identify ways in which the organisation can support them to volunteer, or the volunteer may already have a carer or support worker who can assist them in performing their volunteer role.
Some organisations may provide a buddy or a mentor, who could be either a more experienced volunteer or a member of staff. In some cases, volunteers may require extra supervision or support meetings.
The need for additional support isn’t always ongoing, as some volunteers may only need extra support on their first day with the organisation, to help them settle in. For other volunteers, they may only need help with learning the route from their home to the place where they will be volunteering.
By offering a more in-depth level of support, organisations find that they can broaden their volunteer base by recruiting from sections of the community that they may not have previously reached. By making volunteering more inclusive, the organisation can demonstrate its commitment to equal opportunities and diversity.
Such schemes also give volunteers the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to both the organisation and the wider society. Not only can they benefit from the volunteering experience, but they can also ‘give something back’ and be the ‘helper’ rather than the ‘helped’.
Information taken from Volunteering England