The University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU) is one of the largest student unions in the UK and achieved the standard in 2012 and 2016. Volunteer Manager Mark Lockett explains why IiV is important for the higher education sector and what the positive effects have been on UPSU: "better relationships, improved problem solving, and developed common training and induction processes".
What have been the overall benefits of achieving the IiV accreditation?
IiV has provided a platform to bring together our wide range of services, to ensure that we support and develop student and external volunteers using common systems and procedures. It has seen the sharing of best practice across the organisation and has provided an opportunity to celebrate what we do well, whilst identifying areas for development. The assessment process gave our volunteers an additional opportunity to feedback their experiences of being a volunteer at UPSU, which reinforced the systems we use to support and develop them.
How would you describe the effects of IiV on your organisation?
IiV has provided a common framework for all our teams to work to. This has seen an increase in dialogue across teams, which has led to better relationships, improved problem solving, and developed common training and induction processes.
In your opinion, what is the relevance of IiV for your sector?
IiV is important to the Higher Education sector as it ensures that we are providing and supporting appropriate volunteering opportunities, which supports the development of students and encourages them to be lifelong volunteers. Many of our students go into third sector careers and exposing them to good practice around volunteer management (encouraged by IiV), sets them up well to follow such career paths.
Do you have any advice for other organisations on how to work towards and get the most out of the IiV award?
Use your time with your mentor! Our mentor came with a wealth of experience from across the sector and although that was not specific to our Higher Education setting, they were able to utilise their network to provide answers to our queries, which gave us a clear path. We also found it beneficial to bring all stakeholders together early on in the process, especially as part of the IiV process requires standardised processes across the organisation.
If you have renewed IiV, why did you decide to do so?
Volunteers in their many different forms are incredibly important to UPSU as an organisation, and IiV ensures we stay current with best practice, and demonstrates to our funders that we are working to a level demanded by a national benchmarking scheme. We are currently halfway through the three-year term of our IiV Award and have just carried out a halfway audit to ensure we are meeting and exceeding the benchmark.