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P-93 ‘I’m not here just to make the tea’-making better use of volunteers’ skills and experience
  1. Rebecca Turner and
  2. Mandy Piper-Killick
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London, UK


Background One in six volunteers said they had skills that they would like to use in their volunteering role which they currently are not (McGarvey, Jochum, Davies, Dobbs, et al., 2019). We recognise the need to understand the wealth of skills and experiences within our volunteer team and to offer opportunities for these skills to benefit our aims.


  • To understand the previously unknown skills and experience of current volunteers and develop roles to match;

  • To set in motion a cultural change in staff at all levels with regards to the possibilities and opportunities of how volunteers might get involved;

  • To improve volunteer retention and satisfaction.


  • Engaged 921 volunteers to complete a volunteer experience survey;

  • Delivered a Volunteer Management training course to 39 staff members;

  • Introduced a volunteer management system with a facility to log and report on volunteers’ skills and qualifications;

  • Adapted interview questions to establish existing skills and experience;

  • Conducted an internal communications drive to encourage the flexing of volunteer roles around skills and/or creating roles requiring specialist skills.

Results Funded by the Health Innovation Network (HIN), we recruited six volunteers with training backgrounds to co-produce a training course for local non-hospice volunteers on talking about death, dying and loss. All volunteers reported high satisfaction levels with using their skills in this project. We have recruited 16 people with professional coaching qualifications to coach senior staff in their ongoing development on a voluntary basis. Volunteers are joining staff working groups to provide new perspective.

Conclusions Every successful role and initiative is breathing more confidence in staff to focus their volunteer involvement around assets rather than boundaries.

Limitations to consider:

  • Ensuring potential volunteers are not put off by roles that may feel too much like a paid job;

  • Ensuring that skills are welcomed whilst being mindful of focusing on organisational need.

Acknowledgments With thanks to the HIN for funding some of this work.

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