We chat to Joanne Dear, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Officer, about her role with HARP.
Jo, how long have you been with HARP and what does your role entail?
"I originally came to HARP in August 2015, and started as a volunteer myself. I was based at the Bradbury Centre, helping co-ordinate the pool of volunteers, organising their roles and rotas. I took on my current role on a temporary basis when the previous Volunteer Manager left, and applied for the job permanently in April this year".
What time do you typically start work, and what's the first thing you do when you get in?
"I usually start quite early at around 7:30am, as there's a lot to do before the first volunteers arrive for the day. My time is divided betweenThe Bradbury Centre, which is our day centre and the hub of HARP's services, and a desk at our head office from where I carry out all my admin.
The first thing I usually do is react to any volunteer sickness or absence by contacting other volunteers who may be available that day. Time is of the essence in this respect, to make sure we have enough volunteers present to offer a full service at the day centre.
At any one time, HARP has around 60 volunteers who work alongside our paid staff across every aspect of our services; from cooking meals, helping out with laundry and activities, working in our two charity shops or assisting with administration".
What are the most interesting aspects of your role?
"All sorts of people apply to volunteer with HARP, and I'm always fascinated by the wide variety of personalities, skills and experience that our volunteers bring to their roles. We have newly-retired people who've spent years in demanding high-profile careers, mums whose children have grown up and left home and are looking for a new challenge, as well as people who've previously been homeless themselves.
The one thing they all have in common is their desire to make a difference to the lives of homeless people in their community".
Are there certain tasks you do every day?
"Every day is different, and I have to be prepared for interruptions or things that need to be acted on immediately. There are times when I'm called upon to resolve conflict and diplomatically smooth over issues that arise, though thankfully that doesn't happen every day!
However, HARP employ strict vetting procedures for taking on new volunteers, and everyone must be thoroughly checked and references obtained to ensure their suitability to work alongside vulnerable people, so that part of my job is a regular, ongoing task for every prospective volunteer.
I also organise 'taster sessions' for prospective volunteers so that people can get a feel for the work we do, and how they might fit in".
What time do you usually finish work for the day?
"It varies, but generally I end the day around 3pm, just in time for the school run! If there's a volunteer-focused event, I'll be involved in that, but HARP are flexible when it comes to my hours, and I'm able to take back time off in lieu when requried to work outside of my usual times".