Fiona Liddell, Volunteering Development Manager at WCVA, offers some tips for volunteers on making the most of the new Volunteering Wales website, which was launched on 8 June 2018.
Our brand new volunteering website, launched last week, makes it easy for volunteers to search and sign up for volunteering opportunities and to keep track of their experiences.
In previous blog posts I focused on how organisations can get started and create opportunities on the new website and on other functions that can help them to recruit and manage volunteers. New opportunities are being posted every day. Now its time to turn our attention to volunteers, or potential volunteers, and how you can make use of the site.
Finding volunteering opportunities
First, go to the website
You can start searching straight away using key words -maybe an activity, or an organisation’s name.
Results are displayed in order of their distance from you. Any relevant one-off events will appear at the top of the list. If the list is too long, then try narrowing the search by adding in some additional keywords into the search.
To find out more about the opportunities that appear in your list of results, you will be asked to register, if you have not already done so. This will only take a few minutes. You need to have an email address and you will be asked to create a password.
For some volunteering opportunities you can simply sign up on a first come first served basis, with no application or selection process. In such cases you are invited to ‘Join’. You will be sent confirmation details and then expected to turn up at the specified time and place.
Other opportunities have an application process in place – maybe an initial chat, an application form and in some cases initial training or DBS checks before your volunteering placement can be confirmed.
In these cases you are asked to ‘Apply’ and to follow the required steps. You may be able to download relevant documents, such as an application form, from the website. You will see contact details for the organisation (called on this website ‘Providers’), which you can use if you want to know more before you apply.
Exploring an organisation’s opportunities
Having found a volunteering opportunity you may be curious to know what else the same organisation has to offer. Click on the organisation name to see their Provider page, with some details about the organisation and a list of all the volunteering opportunities that they have on the website.
The website is fully bilingual and you can search in English or in Welsh – but remember that your search is based on key words which appear in the opportunity description as entered by the organisation.
Whilst we strongly encourage bilingual descriptions, we cannot make this mandatory. We are encouraging the use of the tag ‘Cymraeg’ to denote opportunities where you can expect to be able to speak Welsh, so put this into the search bar to find Welsh speaking opportunities.
Help finding the right opportunities
If you would like personal support in finding suitable volunteering opportunities you have the option to say so when you register on the website. Your local volunteer centre will then get in touch with you and can offer help or advice by email, phone or by arranging a face to face interview.
Your online profile
Alternatively, you can start off by clicking on the ‘Try Volunteering’ button on the home page to register as a new volunteer on the platform and start creating your online profile.
Your profile page is where you can keep track of what volunteering sessions you have committed to, and how many hours of volunteering you have done. You will get digital volunteering badges when you clock 50, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 hours. Logging hours is easy – the website will prompt you when you are likely to have hours to log. If you download the Teamkinetic app from the Google or Apple app store then you can do this on your phone whilst you are out and about.
The organisation that you are volunteering for, needs to verify your logged hours before they count towards your digital badges – so just given them a gentle reminder if this is not being done!
You can upload to your profile page, details of qualifications attained and training undertaken, including uploading certificates. Your profile information can be seen only be organisations that are responsible for volunteering opportunities that you sign up for.
You can leave feedback on your volunteering opportunities, to let others know how you got on.
Link up to your Facebook or Twitter account and you can automatically post when you join a new opportunity or log volunteering hours. That way you can keep your friends up to date with what you are doing.
If you are already volunteering, it may be that the organisation you are supporting might encourage you to sign up to the new platform so that they are able to use it to schedule rotas, to communicate with volunteers, give and receive feedback and to track volunteers’ hours.
However you use the new functions of this new website, the most important thing is that you find some worthwhile volunteering and that you enjoy the experience.
If you want any help in finding your way around, or if you would rather talk to someone to find the volunteering opportunity that you are looking for, then feel free to contact your volunteer centre.