Case Study of using Volunteers to Support Reception at Dawes Road Hub

Dawes Road Hub

The Dawes road Hub managed by Sobus and located in Fulham offers office space, hot desking, meeting and training rooms for hire. It is currently being used by the voluntary and community sector organisations and others.

Reception

The Hub has a team of four part time Receptionist/Administrators working shifts to cover reception as well as providing administrative support for Sobus.

The reception rota was organised so that only one team member would be on reception duty during any shift. This presented a problem in providing cover when the receptionist needed to leave the front desk eg to complete other tasks or take a break. This was initially dealt with by using other members of staff to temporarily cover reception, but this wasn’t ideal and was also subject to staff availability. On the other hand, having two receptionists on shift at reception simultaneously would have been a waste of resources. A solution was needed.

Volunteering Proposal

Volunteering was proposed as possible solution. We decided we should look at how we could reorganise the work to allow us to fully understand what work should be done by staff, and tasks that could be done by a volunteer that would create an interesting volunteer opportunity. After some thought we set up a Receptionist/Administrator Volunteering program. A part time volunteer would volunteer alongside the receptionist on shift and in return they would receive full training, work experience and reasonable reimbursement of expenses for travel and lunch.

Implementing Proposal

A member of the Reception/Administrator team, was asked to create a series of Volunteer handbooks across three levels of learning, which would provide information and instructions on all tasks included in the role. The handbooks were designed to assist training and give feedback on training progression both to volunteers and to the team. It was also necessary to amend existing documents used for paid staff to make them appropriate for voluntary staff including Voluntary role advertisement, role description, person specification and other policy documents. Once everything was completed and approved, we were to advertise the role through Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre who put details on ‘Do-it’ through their website. We were fortunate however in receiving direct offers of voluntary help from two interested individuals before the advert was put out. A meeting took place with the potential volunteers to discuss the role and their own expectations and skillset.

Outcome

Both individuals were taken on as volunteers. Each volunteer completed the agreed three month voluntary period. The experience has helped one volunteer to develop their own business, the other has moved from a retail job to an office job. The reception team and Sobus found it really useful to have extra help ensuring a high level of service to people using the Hub, additional tasks being completed and having a pool of people to recruit from when required. We are now recruiting volunteer receptionists on an ongoing basis and looking to develop a similar model in other areas of Sobus’s work. We have had no shortage of interest or applicants.

As a result of this experience we would highly recommend taking on volunteers to other organisations, where a similar program could be tailored to suit any particular organisational need.

If you want to learn more, contact Sobus at  support@sobus.org.uk or get help with volunteers in your organisation please contact Catherine Perez-Phillips – Volunteer Services Manager at H&F Volunteer Centre on 020 8741 9876 or Catherine@hfvc.org.uk