In this blog Chris Moss from Welsh Athletics describes the journey so far in working with the Investing in Volunteers’ Quality Standard.
So it was back in 2016 I was at a meeting at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff where we were talking about various different aspects of sport and more specifically volunteering. Although we were not aware of it at the time, with various different partners and agencies in the room, it was the early stages of what has now emerged as the Sport Wales Volunteering Working Group.
It was there that I met Fiona Liddell from Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and was introduced to the Investing in Volunteers (IiV) standard. I took a look at the ethos and values of the programme and immediately saw the connection of how this could help and benefit us (Welsh Athletics) as a National Governing Body of sport. For me, there was very little pause for thought and I immediately agreed to be the first sport (to our knowledge) in Wales to engage in working towards the standard. And that was the start of the ‘journey’ for us as a governing body engaging with WCVA and the Investing in Volunteers programme.
Admittedly I was a little apprehensive at first as I looked through the nine different ‘indicators’ and the elements that fall within them, however what quickly became apparent was that, as a fairly developed organisation (as we would like to believe!!) we already met many of the elements of the quality standard.
As part of the process, we were assigned an ‘assessor’ who we met with and who came to discuss the programme, the scope and size of the volunteer workforce that we currently work with, the journey that we would take and to see what we currently had in place as well as look at things that we needed to work on as we worked towards the Standard.
The one-to-one time with the assessor I found extremely beneficial especially as I find discussion and bouncing thoughts, ideas and concepts around often is the best way to make progress and come up with solutions. Our assessor produced a report (kind of like a ‘health check’ I guess) of where we were as an organisation, what we needed to work on and the evidence we needed to provide to satisfy and fulfil the standard.
Luckily for us the support did not stop there, we were assigned an IiV ‘advisor’ who was there to support us throughout the process. Once again, I have to say, the advisor support was invaluable. They were able to provide suggestions, templates and practical solutions to some of the challenges that we were facing as an organisation. It was great to talk through ideas and examples of good practice from the sector with the advisor.
On reflection, having been on the journey (and we are still very much going through the journey as the landscape evolves!), the IiV standard has provided us with a structured approach, a framework to work through and this in turn means that the approach taken in supporting volunteers within the organisation can be planned accordingly (which is perfect if you are like me and enjoy a more methodical process!!). The support and advice that you get throughout the process is priceless.
The whole IiV process has shaped a lot of the work that we, as an organisation, do and have done with volunteers over the last couple of years. It has also given us confidence that the work that we are developing in relation to volunteers (which each and every National Governing Body of sport will tell you are the lifeblood of their sport) is robust and fit for purpose. As a sport, we are constantly developing our resources, processes, policies and procedures and the support we provide in order to best recognise and value volunteers at all levels.
As it currently stands, we are contemplating moving forward to the formal assessment. The journey to date has been an insightful one and the majority of the learning and development of policies, procedures, processes, etc in relation to volunteering within the organisation has come about by being involved in the IiV process.
Further information in relation to the WCVA