It’s been a whole year since we began redesigning the volunteer programme at HOS. What’s below describes a few highlights of our work so far.
It’s been a year since I came into post as the Volunteer Coordinator at Housing Options Scotland. In that time, I’m proud of the work we have done to build our volunteer programme. We have designed new opportunities for people to get involved with the charity and recruited a team of 23 volunteers right across Scotland. There are lots of things which I could highlight from the year so consider what’s below as a snapshot of some of our activities. I’ve presented the information (somewhat) chronologically to show how the programme has grown and developed. Thank you to everyone for their involvement and the Bank of Scotland Foundation for funding the post.
We began designing the volunteer programme by holding workshops with stakeholders to determine what kinds of projects we could involve volunteers with. We designed the Housing Buddies role for housing professionals, asking volunteers to support clients by buddying them at events and appointments. We also designed the Online Researcher role, asking volunteers to write informative guides about different local authority areas to share with clients when they moved. The idea was to design the volunteering around the needs of our clients. I also attended training with Volunteer Scotland about how to co-ordinate a volunteer programme and launched the Volunteer Blog to document our work over the year.
In the Autumn, we began to recruit volunteers, advertising roles with different volunteer organisations and via Scottish Housing News. We recruited 3 Housing Buddies in Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling and saw them undertake their first cases with the broker team. We also completed several case studies and recruited our first Online Researcher in Edinburgh. In November, we had our AGM where we celebrated the work of our volunteers, and formally launched the Housing Buddies programme. At the end of the year we recruited two more Housing Buddies in Falkirk and Perth and met to evaluate the success of the programme to date. We also recruited several more Online Researchers and I began to re-write the volunteer role descriptions and induction processes. The Volunteer Blog was redesigned and continually updated.
In the New Year we saw our first Your Area guide for Edinburgh finished, and recruited more researchers in Stirling, North Lanarkshire, Highlands, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Glasgow. We saw our Housing Buddies support our brokers further, with them helping at 18 different events/appointments. We also completed several more case studies with clients. I designed the HOS Volunteer Portal where we now keep all documents related to the volunteering. We also hosted peer support sessions both with the researcher volunteers, and Housing Buddies.
Moving forward, we are excited to grow the volunteer programme further. We have plans for research projects which volunteers can be involved with and hope to link up with other organisations in the sector to expand the opportunities we offer our volunteers, and our clients and broker team. Onwards and upwards!