Connecting Communities: Re-examining Volunteering

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On day three of the Connecting Communities Conference, we get to hear local speakers discuss and debate their views on our key question.

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Re-examining Volunteering

Thursday 10 June // 1:00- 2:30pm //Zoom Webinar

Our conference grand finale will be a lively panel discussion around the question; Can we make volunteering a realistic option for everyone?

We have passionate and informed representatives from various third sector organisations and community groups from across the community and keeping them in order is the Volunteer Consultant Laura Hamilton.

Please note this event will no allow questions from the audience and will be recorded.

Biographies

Chair

Laura Hamilton – Volunteer Consultant

Laura Hamilton brings 20 years of hands-on volunteer management experience in the VCSE sector. Laura led the volunteer programme at George House Trust, Greater Manchester's HIV health and wellbeing charity and was a member of their senior team. She secured project income, achieved Investing in Volunteers and PQASSO and improved volunteer engagement, diversity and impact.

Elsewhere, she has managed youth volunteering, mentoring and supported volunteering programmes. She was chair of Volunteering Greater Manchester, a trustee of GMCVO and a member of the North West England Volunteer Development Council.

She has a strong understanding of volunteer management within small and medium-sized organisations and of working with staff to build volunteer management confidence and capacity in these contexts. Laura is a recognised trainer and speaker in the field; her speaking experience includes the World Volunteer Conference, Inside Government Volunteer Management Forum, Forum Managing Volunteers in Charities Conference and the Museums' Association. Training and mentoring clients include Citizens Advice, Manchester City Council, Albert Kennedy Trust and several Volunteer Centres/CVSs.

Laura runs a successful consultancy with a specialist focus on volunteer engagement and management and training and mentoring for volunteer managers. Further information and testimonials at Laura Hamilton Consulting

Panel

Sam Davies , Chair of Queen Edith's Community Forum

Sam Davies has been Chair of the Queen Edith's Community Forum (QECF), a neighbourhood association run by residents for residents in the south of Cambridge, since 2015. The QECF publishes a weekly email received by 1500 local residents and a quarterly self-funded magazine delivered to 4000 local homes. It organises community events and volunteering activities throughout the year and works with local businesses and groups to make Queen Edith's "a better place to be".

During the pandemic, Sam helped Cambridge City Council devise its strategy for cooperation with mutual aid groups across the city. Within the Queen Edith's area, The 'Happy to Help' scheme, set up by QECF in collaboration with local churches, recruited over 200 local volunteers to help vulnerable residents. In the last couple of months, it has provided over 800 hours of volunteer support at the Cornford House vaccination centre. It also runs a free food hub every Saturday, attended by up to 60 visitors, some of whom also volunteer there.

Sam is a passionate advocate for asset-based community development, building on and nurturing the strengths of the community and of the individuals which comprise it. She has seen first-hand the galvanising effect of experiencing agency and belonging at a local level: "the neighbourhood is the unit of social change".

Sam was awarded an MBE for services to her community in 2020.

Anna Bradley-Dorman , Communications and Grant Manager at Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

Anna is the Communication & Grant Manager for Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust (RNT). RNT is an independent, grant-funded, charity that works on community-led projects in Ramsey and its surrounding villages. The charity has approximately 75 volunteers on its books. Being in a rurally isolated area RNT activities can be quite diverse and currently include youth clubs, Job Search, timebank, toddler group, free workshops/training, social activities, COVID Support and public events. RNT believes that everyone has something to offer as part of its volunteering community and everyone is valued equally.

Anna is responsible for securing funding and then promoting RNT activities. This can find her liaising with parliamentary groups, the media, councils, residents, and other voluntary and statutory bodies – no two days are never the same.

Anna loves nothing more than promoting the positive side of volunteering for RNT. She started as a volunteer with RNT herself, after taking medical retirement from teaching. Over time she became more involved leading to her current position.

Anna says, ‘Volunteering changed my life in ways I could not have predicted 10 years ago. Find something you are passionate about and go for it - the rewards are endless.’

Stewart Howe , Director at Social Echo North Huntingdonshire CIC

Stewart Howe is a director of Social Echo, a non-profit organisation that continues the Big Issue's mission to dismantle poverty and create opportunity in communities. Working alongside Lord Bird and Peter Bird, the team brings together organisations from the public, private and voluntary sector to create social impact and drive change.

Stewart has over a decade of experience in the third sector, leading an innovative asset based community development programme at Yaxley that has been recognised as a model for the wider district. The initiative has birthed multiple projects, including a community-led festival that attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Stewart is currently overseeing the launch of a pilot employment hub at Yaxley and is supporting other social enterprise activity, including the launch of a technical academy for young people. He is also a director of The Making of Black Britain, a landmark international cross-media non-profit history project.

In his spare time Stewart is an avid fan of professional boxing and is a founder member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, an organisation that has a global membership spanning 21 countries.

Wendy Lansdown // Place Coordinator, Cambridge County Council

Wendy works for Cambridgeshire County Council as a Place Coordinator in East Cambridgeshire, a communities and partnerships role. She has a background in the voluntary sector and also in social care. She is part of the newly formed Cambridgeshire Local team. Their aim is to work in partnership with communities starting with what's strong, not what's wrong—supporting the development of strong communities and connections between people.

People giving time to their community through volunteering and social action is something Wendy is passionate about. In her career she has supported the development of Time Currencies in the county, both Timebanks and Time Credits. She is also a keen volunteer herself. Within her own community she was a founding trustee of Abbey People CIO, and has recently been helping to create their children's green amphitheatre.

Katie Bristow // Director, People and Animals UK CIC

With a background in, Animal-Assisted Interventions and the impact of the Human-Animal Bond on Public Health. Katie has worked with her team to develop a unique model of engagement and development for those most vulnerable in deprived communities, combining asset-based community development with animal and land-based therapeutic opportunities.

After many years of developing Community Outreach, working across schools, community centres and residential settings. Katie has worked hard with the community to bring residents, businesses, and organisations together to build an asset to Wisbech, in the form of a Community Farm, opening in July 2019, supporting local people and volunteers throughout the pandemic, with outreach working scheduled to begin again soon.

Katie and her multi-disciplinary team have for years now supported those identified as ‘hard to reach’ into active citizenship and continues to support the development of the volunteer programme with partnership working across Fenland.


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