Case Study 2
Volunteer Development Programme
Type of Organisation:
Community Development Trust
Highlands – Wester Ross
(Gairloch, Poolewe, Aultbea, Laide)
Nr. of Employees:
Nr. of Volunteers:
Multiple, including PCF
The GALE Centre is at the heart of a remote rural community in Gairloch in the Highlands.
GALE (Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum), is a community owned and managed charitable development company and a community hub. Its key aim is to develop and improve the way of life and standard of living in the Gairloch and Loch Ewe area of Wester Ross. This involves working with a range of community groups and volunteers to develop sustainable community projects that tackle important issues within the community, such as improving the social life, the local economy, and the environment.
Over the last 16 years, GALE has delivered a diverse range of community owned and managed projects and services. The GALE Centre is open all year round and is a social meeting point for the community and visitors.
Projects include: social welfare initiatives, environmental and cultural projects, building sustainable community assets, and managing a range of community facilities and services both independently and in partnership with other organisations.
GALE targets harder to reach members of the community and offers supported volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities, training and social opportunities for people with mental health problems, social opportunities for the elderly and work experience and activities for local young people.
Membership in GALE is open to all, and local people are actively, encouraged to join. The members elect the Board of Directors from their numbers to lead and manage GALE.
Key Elements of Co-Production
The new Volunteering Development Programme and training events focus on a distinct target group, i.e. new and existing volunteers at GALE. The improved processes and procedures are geared to engage better with volunteers, implement ongoing needs assessments and encourage a continuing process of capturing feedback from volunteers to help generate new ideas for service provision, tap into new opportunities and to develop the skills of volunteers in specific areas of interest and need.
The focus is on improving the collaboration between staff and volunteers, to support an improved management and co-delivery of services to the community and to develop the skills sets of the volunteers.
The recipients of the training are placed within the Community Anchor organisation and at times also with other partner organisations.
The role of the partner organisations is to signpost/refer suitable candidates for volunteering and/or provide opportunities in their organisation.
At GALE, a two-way process is implemented whereby staff members are proactive in consulting with volunteers and community members to help determine local needs, and volunteers are encouraged to provide input into the development of activities and services and to provide suggestions and/or improvements for delivery.
The PCF project brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds and has enabled people to interact with groups they may not have previously engaged with.
Description of PCF Funded Project Activities
As well as supporting delivery of a wide range of volunteering activities, the PCF funding also enabled GALE to develop a comprehensive set of policies and procedures to improve and structure the Volunteer Development Programme. This included a number of training events and a part-time volunteer co-ordinator post.
The funded project activities included the following:
- An ongoing volunteer needs assessment process (i) Regular review and (ii) establishing individuals’ interests to generate new opportunities.
- Development of a comprehensive set of written policies and procedures including six-monthly reviews and self-evaluation procedures.
- Implementation of team building exercises and volunteer support initiatives.
- Review and development of a tiered system to encourage volunteers to progress within a number of specialist areas.
- Identified the need to produce a Volunteer Handbook/Package to make the Volunteer policies and procedures more accessible.
The funding also helped to initiate a number of new projects, such as a Community Garden Group, and a youth committee for GALE to tackle issues for young people between ages of 14-30.
One young adult with Down’s Syndrome volunteers with the GALE Centre twice a week. He serves customers in the community café with support from a member of staff and also in other areas of the Centre.
The young man has grown in confidence and takes huge pride in his contribution to the work of GALE in his community.
The other volunteers and staff at GALE have been able to help him identify skills, such as indexing and colour coding which are very useful for helping in other areas of the Centre, such as the community shop. He can now work independently, using his own initiative at times, as well as assisting others in the Supported Volunteering programme.
Customers and other local people in the community have got to know the young man and enjoy seeing him and have learned how to engage with him. The project has helped to reduce the stigma of having a disability and broken down some social barriers locally.
Since its inception, GALE has also been able to increase its partnership working with local community groups, social care, and with Skills Development Scotland to increase employability opportunities.
" I have gained a lot of self-confidence from working with
new people and people that I haven’t worked with
The Volunteer Development Programme has enabled the GALE to increase activities and services through the creation of a dedicated Volunteer Development Officer position, who works to support the expansion of the volunteer opportunities at the Centre for all community members. Through the better systems in place, GALE is now in an improved position to increase social inclusion within the local area. There are now more volunteers working at GALE which helps with their employability skills.
" Before this structure, volunteers wouldn’t stay as
GALE as there
weren’t as many levels of support for them."
A staff member
Key achievements have been reported by volunteers and staff as follows:
- The volunteering project is very well structured and organised and this helps volunteers undertake their roles better.
- The structure at GALE is something which staff members feel has improved since PCF.
- Without funding, GALE wouldn’t have had been able to hire a co-ordinator who created these structures which allow community members to become more proactive.
- The new structure enabled the NHS to commission services, which previously was not possible.
- More local people are engaged and empowered to actively participate in community owned and controlled organisations that deliver local services.
- An increase in the number of services available locally all year round.
Study Teams’ Observations
Many staff members identified the dedicated Volunteer Development Officer position and the clear implementation structures as the key success factors of the Volunteer Development Programme.
The benefits of the volunteer training contribute to improved service provision in the local community, but also has helped the volunteers to feel more included and connected with their community.
" At first when I joined the Centre I was a little unsure
as to how I would get on as it was a completely different type of
job. I thought I would apply and see how I got on. I gained a lot
of confidence in doing the job and realised I was able to do
Email: Hannah Davidson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House