THE SO TOOLKIT

02. RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS & SKILLS AUDIT

At the start, there were a handful of parish councillors and a few parishioners that had come forward when reading the council meeting notes. A good start but not enough to achieve what we wanted. 

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LEARNING POINT:

HOW TO BUILD UP YOUR TEAM

Publicise at every opportunity

  • Publicise meetings

  • Keep asking for more volunteers, and call for specific skills if you need them (e.g. can you help build a website, are you a graphic designer). 

  • Communicate what you are doing through all your existing communication channels. This might be a parish newsletter, a noticeboard, a Facebook page. Set up Twitter and Instagram accounts

  • Write press releases for local papers, contact local TV or radio stations

  • Talk to everyone you can think of: your local business association, local clubs and societies, local businesses, local dignitaries, any local celebrities (Mike Bushell of Strictly fame kindly followed us on social media), local churches, schools

  • Never miss an opportunity to have a “climate conversation”. 

Use your networks – never miss an opportunity to have a “climate conversation”

  • Try to find people who have good connections in your parish. Get people talking about this.

  • Make it easy for them to get involved: we found some people are very wary of volunteering, as they perceive they will get “sucked in” and find it hard to step away if they are overloaded.  

  • It’s not necessarily who you know, its who your contacts know. LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, whatever social media you engage with - make it work for you. 

  • Social events are also a great source of networking – when of course we are able to do that post-COVID.

Make it easy for people to get involved

  • Most of our volunteers work full time, many have young families, and even if retired have many other commitments. Make it easy for them to “dip their toe in” without fear of becoming overwhelmed.

  • Publicise small jobs – e.g. we need 12 people to plant trees – 1 or 2 hours on a Sunday morning.  

  • Post pictures and short videos of what you’ve already done on social media. Make it look fun.  

  • We also found that new people in the village were particularly interested in volunteering, perhaps to make friends and get involved in their local community. So, maybe talk to your local estate agents, do a door drop in a new housing development.

We have found that we have a core set of volunteers, and others who prefer to take on the occasional task, and not be tied down to monthly meetings and ongoing tasks. Also, some people need to move away for various reasons. Often, they come back too. So, it’s important to continually recruit, ideally being as specific as possible about tasks, so people feel able to say yes when they see something that really motivates them, and the core team doesn’t get overloaded and it becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.

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