Retiree Janine Brown Jones shares the role of Volunteer Coordinator for RSPB Aire Valley with Chris Partridge. Read today’s Volunteering Week blog to find out why she thinks volunteering is fabulous...
Chris and I “role-share” the Volunteer Coordinator role for RSPB Aire Valley. I’m based at St Aidan’s and Chris at Fairburn Ings, so we have responsibilities at our own reserves, but we share lots of things and we both work across the two sites on many projects. I started as a Volunteer Ranger, then this opportunity came up and I jumped at the chance to make use of some of the skills gained throughout my career and get more involved.
Today my day involved a chat to catch up with where various pieces of work are at with Chris. Then administrative work: sending out our latest newsletter to our 180 volunteers; registering some new volunteers on our database; checking our email for any enquiries about volunteering and making sure we respond (recruiting new volunteers is the core of our role); and ensuring all our volunteer hours are accurately recorded for the last year. We’ll shortly be undertaking an analysis of this to report on the contribution of volunteers across the area – last year this was in excess of 18,000 hours of volunteer time.
Making things even better for volunteers Of course, there are ever-present emails to answer and send, and we’re starting work on a project that Chris and I are undertaking to continue to try to improve how our volunteers are managed. We’re always looking for new ideas and ways to bring in more volunteers, as well as improve the experience for those we have. We aim to provide our volunteers with the best possible experience, which is quite a challenge with the number and variety of volunteers we have. We do this through events like our bi-annual volunteer celebrations, recognition through Long Service Awards, encouraging participation in the RSPB’s annual volunteer satisfaction survey (VES) and just talking to our volunteers. In the 2018 VES our sites came second and third in the country, so we must be getting something right!
Occasionally I’ll pop out of the office to help out if we get a busy period in the visitor centre. In many ways this can be the highlight of the day (if a bit of a distraction from my main role), chatting to visitors helping them navigate the site and get the most out of their visit, or hearing about their adventure when they return for that welcome cuppa. This week is school holidays locally, so we’ve had lots of parents and grandparents with children. It’s such a joy to help them enjoy the site and hear what they’ve been doing.
Chris and I volunteer here because we love the wildlife, the place and the people – visitors, volunteers and staff, and we both wanted to be a part of the team helping to make it even better for the future. In careers that spanned many years, with long hours, we (mostly!) loved our jobs. Now we have this fabulous experience in our retirement, I guess that’s why we’re here so much!
Janine Brown Jones
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