Quaker A-Z: V is for Volunteers and (school) Visits

2009 10 06 Wendrie w Volunteer badge 2 This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

V is for Volunteers

If you read the last post ‘U is for understanding and undervalued‘ you may be wondering how to avoid having your wardens or other volunteers feeling undervalued and misunderstood. Is it just as simple as following the list of advice given last week?

2010 12 09 Volunteers Desk
Volunteers Desk at Quaker Centre Friends House

It is always tricky to balance the skills you need with the skills offered but then that is part of the fun of working with volunteers rather than calling in professionals.

Remembering that you might get a professional volunteering too!

Well, I’ve been both a volunteer and managed volunteers – in small or large groups with a variety of ages, experiences and abilities.

There are some things that can help your project succeed and your volunteers leave feeling satisfied and willing to come back for more.

  • Have you clearly defined the job(s) or tasks that you want done?
  • Have you ensured that appropriate tools and working areas are available and supplied by you?
  • Have you categorised the jobs and tasks to fit a wide range of skill sets and abilities? Pairing not so able or skilled with others more skilled or ensuring there are jobs suitable to all abilities.
  • Has someone done a dry run (even just on paper!) to ensure all obvious snags are reduced and that the tasks can actually be done in the place and time you’ve allotted?
  • Do you ensure all volunteers are welcomed and given an induction suitable to their age and ability?
  • Do you thank all those who came to help – even if they weren’t able to help? I always find that sharing food together is a good way to ensure fellowship and a feeling of being appreciated.
  • If the project is over a longer period of time, do you ensure that everyone is kept up to date with developments and is able to give input?

All Quaker meetings are of course run by volunteers – and one of the joys of giving Quaker service is meeting others who are also giving service. Even when it is frustrating, or hard work there are always benefits – to paraphrase A&Q 23:

In times of difficulty remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a sense of humour.

V is for Visits – school and others

One interesting way of getting people to visit your meeting house is to invite them to visit. A common visit can be from a local school – Quakers can come into the National Curriculum in a range of ways.

Dissenters, slave trade, or individuals such as George Fox and Elizabeth Fry, or even local religious groups is another for younger children.

However, I also had a visit where I was informed they wanted to come as the sixth formers were looking at ‘Religious Architecture and Icons’. When I hesitantly pointed out the building didn’t have much to look at in the way of either icons or obviously religious architecture – I was reassured by the teacher saying that we were being compared to the local Greek orthodox church.

There are resources available from the Children and Young People’s Team at Friends House ‘Schools Journeys’ to help you plan and organise the visit – you could invite all schools to a specific exhibition, or just contact the local schools to inform them that the meeting exists and that there are people willing to come in to do assemblies or to host a field trip.

Along with other recent commemorations of WWI two new packs were produced by QPSW Conscience and Conviction which can be downloaded for free from that link.

Over the years I’ve hosted school visits and always found the groups interesting as well as challenging. I’ve been thanked by the adults attending as well as the students. I hope you are tempted to try out a school visit!

  • Does your meeting have a relationship with any or all of the local schools?
  • Have you any tips for a successful visit?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

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