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Implementation of a Mentorship system to support the Volunteers is essential to support their healthy long term engagement with the organisation and there are many different models out there. The most effective and straightforward model appropriate to the number of Volunteers, and taking into consideration the specific demands of their work, should be adopted.
Providing structured Mentorship to the young Volunteers is essential good practice in helping foster harmonious working relationships, providing internal and external help and advice to newly arrived Volunteers and in providing a safety net that will enhance their confidence in new working and living territory.
As practised by Cloughjordan; also partially by Ängsbacka: current Volunteer Coordinators are trained Counsellors
The Volunteer Coordinators are the first port of call for the Volunteers.
They resolve practical and daily living issues as well as ensuring smooth running of the programme, encouraging and facilitating extra learning, training and personal projects – but they can also act as Volunteer Mentors.
Our Volunteer Coordinators conduct additional one on one meetings that are less about work progress and more about additional social/personal issues or challenges.
They can also help sort out minor disagreements or disputes that are work or home based.
As practised at Ananda Gaorii
Each ESC volunteer receives two Mentors upon arrival.
A ritual is held with ‘speed-dating’ sessions to enable the Volunteers to choose their ESC-Mentor from that previous group.
During their volunteering term, each new ESC Volunteer has Check-ins, Reflection and Reviewing sessions with their Mentor once every 1-2 months, depending upon need.
Be aware that the main purpose of this approach is the creation of more trusting relationships between the previous and new Volunteers, as well as between Volunteers and the community.
Trained Counsellor: To support the Coordinators we also have at least one trained counsellor who meets with the Volunteers on a regular basis and who can increase these meetings to address any emerging issues with any particular individuals.
Professional Services: The above team also have access to nearby Professional Services for more serious issues including physical and mental health services.
Friends of Volunteers:
Cloughjordan have created a less formal network- a Whatsapp group called Friends of Volunteers:
They are members of the wider Cloughjordan Community who can be called upon to help with practical issues i.e. offer lifts to town, provide clothing/equipment/food ingredients etc. Sometimes the Friends may even suggest outings and activities: cookery lessons, trips to the lake, etc.
In Sieben Linden this informal Support Group are known as Buddies or Godparents and they are assigned to individuals:
Inspired by Sieben Linden; as practised at Sieben Linden, and practised in group form at Cloughjordan
What is it/ How do you do it?
The community is informed about the arrival of new Volunteers and it is explained how they can become a Buddy or ‘Godparent’ to one of them.
At Sieben Linden the pairs mostly find each other organically after the Volunteer has his/her Life Storytelling evening with the community- which is how community members get to know the Volunteers better.
The community member then approaches the Volunteer and offers to be a Buddy.
Regular check-ins with the Volunteer are essential, both if they already have a Buddy/ Godparent and if they do not, how they feel about that, and how best to support them otherwise.
What is Needed:
Work Coordinator for Volunteers:
As practised by Cloughjordan Community Farm (CCF) and Sieben Linden
CCF has a dedicated Farm Work Coordinator who helps the Volunteers manage the task rota and guides the Volunteers’ fieldwork, showing them how to perform the practical tasks. At Sieben Linden each working area has a specific supervisor fulfilling that role.