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Different organisations divide up these roles in different ways. In some cases several of these roles are held by one individual. In other cases a role may be shared by a team of people. This explanation is designed to give an overview of the different work areas that someone within the organisation may need to take responsibility for.
These are the people who work with the Volunteers on a day to day basis, checking in with them each morning, assigning tasks, demonstrating how to do tasks where necessary, and being available to answer questions throughout the day.
A talk with the Supervisors/Work Leaders is recommended to check the flow of communication and identify who is responsible for which specific activities.
If there is more than one team of Volunteers, e.g. a kitchen team, a garden team, etc. then there should be separate Team Leaders supervising each of those teams.
The Volunteer Coordinators have an oversight over the whole volunteering programme, but don’t necessarily work directly with the Volunteers on a day to day basis.
The Coordinator role is sometimes divided up into two roles: Project Administration and practical hands-on Management of the Project (in some organisations, these dual roles are held by the same person).
This can be time consuming, but it’s worth investing the time and energy to select Volunteers who are a good fit for the project and will be likely to stay for the duration (See Best Practices in second half for more details)
In Cloughjordan this involves securing rental accommodation locally and liaising with Landlords (in this case accommodation consumes a significant part of their project budget).
Other communities have their own accommodation on site – in this case the role may involve deciding how the accommodation is allocated (or liaising with whoever is responsible for accommodation in the community).
Consideration should be given to the comfort and privacy needs of Volunteers, and potential interpersonal issues that may arise (expecting Volunteers to share a room for an extended period of time, e.g.for a project that lasts for a whole year, may be a recipe for more potential conflicts than if Volunteers have their own space).
In Cloughjordan, Volunteers live together in shared houses and take turns to cook for each other. In this case the Volunteers have free access to vegetables from the Community Farm and bread from the local baker, and are also provided with a monthly budget for their remaining food needs.
The Mentor’s role is to support the emotional well-being of the Volunteers.
They should be someone that the Volunteer is familiar with and feels comfortable turning to if they have any problems that they can’t talk to the other team members about.
For this reason, the Mentor should not be someone who works with the Volunteers on a day to day basis.
In some organisations, one Mentor is assigned to all the Volunteers; in other organisations each Volunteer has a different Mentor (e.g. using a ‘Godparent’ or ‘Buddy’ system as described in Mentoring).
Ideally the Mentor should have skills and experience in a field related to interpersonal care, human resources and/or mediating conflict – for example: in counselling, psychotherapy, non-violent communication.
Someone also needs to manage payments – such as the payment of pocket money to the Volunteers, reimbursement of travel costs, and other expenses of the project – as well as filing invoices and receipts, and keeping the accounts.