JENNYInternational Volunteer Managers Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the work that I do as a Regional Volunteer Manager at Volunteering Matters. I have been a Volunteer Manager for the last 5 years and in that time have worked with and supported many fantastic volunteers, who make such a difference in their local community.

My days are very varied; for example today I will be visiting schools, volunteer centres and job centres in my region to promote Full-Time Volunteering, our unique gap year volunteering programme. I’m leafletting today, but on other days I might speak at an assembly, or attend a gap year or careers fair. We’re always looking for young people aged 18-35 who would like to give 6-12 months of their time to take up one of our full-time volunteer placements.

On other days I am based at my desk, responding to emails and phone calls from volunteers and projects. Full-Time Volunteering is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging at times, and part of my job is to support volunteers and projects to overcome any issues that may arise.

I also regularly go out and visit my volunteers and service users throughout South West England and Wales. We have a wide range of projects, so volunteers may be supporting people with physical or learning disabilities; people with mental health problems; older people; homeless people, or  befriending and mentoring young people. Our service users are inspirational in the way they have overcome difficulties in their lives, and the way they embrace the support our volunteers offer. Some of my service users have involved over 80 volunteers over the years! It is an honour to be part of a scheme which has such heritage in making a difference to both volunteers and the people they support.

Another part of my role is holding volunteer training days which equip new volunteers with vital skills for their placements, such as communication skills, confidentiality, and real-life scenarios they might encounter while volunteering. I also run regular social events which are a great opportunity for all the volunteers in the region to get together, make friends, and have fun together. We recruit volunteers from the UK and internationally, so the training and social events are real multicultural celebrations!

I have a responsibility to develop new volunteer placements, so I often spend time working with people who are interested in involving volunteers in their care, or as part of their organisation. We take care to ensure that each role is appropriate, safe, and engaging for our volunteers, as well as meeting the needs of the individual or organisation being supported.

I’m also involved in Volunteering Matters Heritage Camps programme, so in the summer I might find myself travelling to a cathedral or church to see the impressive heritage work that our volunteers have done there.

Through my job as a Volunteer Manager, I have met truly incredible volunteers. Some of whom have encountered difficulties in their own lives which has made them caring, thoughtful and truly fantastic  at offering support and empathy to those who need it.  Others are taking time out from work or study to gain skills and experience for their career. Whatever their motivation, they are some of the most amazing, generous people I have ever encountered.