In 2013, Volunteer Centre Camden worked closely with community organisations and statutory bodies to identify the barriers to and opportunities for volunteering in Camden’s Bengali and Somali communities.
We carried out interviews, focus groups and workshops with volunteers, service users and staff.
The overarching aim of the project was to improve the availability and take-up of volunteering opportunities for Somali and Bangladeshi communities in Camden, in order to build a more dynamic, inclusive and cohesive borough.
In 2014-15 Volunteer Centre Camden we:
- Delivered a programme of workshops for potential volunteers of Somali and Bangladeshi backgrounds. These sessions looked at different kinds of participation, how volunteering can widen skills, and how to get involved. There was a particular focus on increasing confidence.
- Delivered ‘Introduction to volunteer management’ training sessions for member organisations. These focused on involving volunteers in a way that is sustainable and inclusive.
- Supported our members to develop more flexible and inclusive volunteering roles by providing guidance and resources around best practice.
Here are some suggestions to make your volunteering programme more inclusive.
These suggestions have come from the Bangladeshi and Somali Research and Engagement project.
Tips for community groups:
- Organise a taster session or a one-off opportunity so that prospective volunteers can try out your organisation
- Break down existing roles to identify activities that are appropriate for volunteers with lower levels of English
- Use clear, jargon-free and inclusive language in recruitment
- State the level of English that is required (written and spoken) in adverts and role descriptions
- Scrap the application form or CV. Instead, collect contact details and speak to prospective volunteers directly
- Buddy new volunteers with someone who has been there a bit longer, and can help them feel comfortable
- Recruit more than one volunteer to share a role and enable flexible hours. This helps enable those with caring responsibilities to take part
- Encourage your organisation’s service users to volunteer
- Provide references for your volunteers to help with their job search
For help implementing these ideas in your organisation, get in touch with Rupal by email or phone 020 7424 9990.
Volunteer Centre Camden was funded by London Borough of Camden through the Equalities and Cohesion Fund to deliver this project. We are grateful to staff at LBC for their guidance and support during the project.
The research would not have been possible without the valuable contribution of volunteer-involving organisations and community groups within Camden, many from within the Bangladeshi and Somali communities.
We would particularly like to thank the following organisations for their co-operation and expertise:
Age UK Camden, Belsize Community Library, Bengali Workers’ Association, British Somali Community, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, Camden Arts Centre, Camden Baby Feeding Team, Community Service Volunteers RSVP, Disability in Camden, Evelyn Oldfield Unit, Foundling Museum, Healthwatch Camden, Henna Asian Women’s Group, Holborn Community Association, Homestart Camden, Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre, Kentish Town Community Centre, Kentish Town Somali Welfare Association, Kings Cross and Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, Laamiga Women’s Mentoring and Training, RSBP Wild About Hampstead Heath, Single Homeless Project, Somali Cultural Centre, St Pancras Somali Women’s Group, Somali Youth Foundation, The Winch, UCLH, Voluntary Action Camden, West Euston Partnership, West Hampstead Community Centre.