Lee Gardens Pool in Penrhiwceiber recently passed a significant milestone, when they recruited their 101st volunteer! How have they done it? We sent our Volunteer Advisor Thomas Crockett out to meet Diane Locke (LGP Secretary) and her daughter Joanne, also a Trustee, to find out.
“The Pool has been re-opened for three years now and we are always positive. The glass is always half full! For instance the Lifeguards enjoy the rain because it gives them the chance to relax and enjoy snacks. As we said, the social side is really important, as Pool Attending is very hard work.”
Rain has stopped play so Declan is enjoying his free snacks from Greggs
Be Friendly and Positive
Overall we try to employ a friendly and positive approach. We have a chat, and the footfall helps. We try to make it easy for people to get involved, because we are there on site most of the time anyway, during our operating period.
Use social media and local Notice Boards
When we have an activity (usually about once a month) we advertise it on social media and on our Notice Board which is outside the pool near the bus stop. We also put posters in local shops and the Medical Centre.
Our volunteers are pretty much all local, so we know who they are! It helps socially that people know each other.
Ask other local organisations to help advertising your activities
It is up to the volunteers if and when they come. We advertise activities as we mentioned and those volunteers with the skills needed for that particular activity turn up. We also go and ask people if we know they have the skills we need. The local schools help out by messaging the parents on our behalf. We worked on a rota in the summer involving 23 volunteers; 13 lifeguards and emergency responders and 10 trustees.
10 of the 13 lifeguards and emergency responders who volunteered in 2018
Location, location, location
Our location (slap bang in the middle of the village, between the Bus Stop and the Train Station) is fantastic as people walk past it all the time, then stop and ask what’s going on. We drag them in off the Bus Stop to help if needed!
The pool’s central location encourages volunteers and visitors.
Put on events for people to get involved in
We also hold fundraising events; Elderly volunteers bake and knit in their homes and we call and collect their produce to sell. People can help at Easter Bingo, stalls, clean ups and DIY days and on our Fit & Fed project, pool opening period and Winter Wonderland.
Youngsters having fun on the synthetic ice-rink at Winter Wonderland
Some of the volunteers are very dedicated and will come at certain times of the day, for example at the start and end of events to set-up and clear away. Our Fit and Fed project is run in partnership, St Winifred’s Church and Penrhiwceiber Co-op through Street Games Wales. This project is designed to combat holiday hunger and by working together we are able to provide free breakfasts and lunch during the summer holiday and a hot meal during other half term holidays. This has brought in many new volunteers.
We run a Tuck Shop on site, which means people can stay all day; hot drinks are provided free to volunteers and if it’s a day event we provide free lunch too.
There are plenty of shops in the high street and the increased footfall helps local businesses.
Fit & Fed project at the pool supported by HAPI
Get back to people immediately
If people contact us we get straight back to them immediately – there are no excuses not to as the messages come through on our phones, and when they turn up we collect their details on volunteer forms. We make it easy and quick for people to get involved.
This comes from my experience training with BTCV, where they made it easy for people to turn up and sign the forms there and then.
We achieved over 3,000 hours of volunteering (from April to August 2018).
Have formal and informal roles
“We have formal and informal roles. Some volunteers train as Lifeguards and often progress to University or paid work so we don’t get them back; we train new volunteers the following year.
Find a role for everyone
Some people volunteer as painters, which is once a year, other people knit beany hats, stockings, cardigans and egg covers for us to sell. Some of these volunteers are bed-ridden but they can still help us. I invited one potential volunteer up for a cuppa. He started volunteering with us and he’s a Godsend – he can turn his hand to anything; jet-washing the pool, general repairs, Pat testing, carpentry etc. He likes the backroom tasks but doesn’t like fuss, so he volunteers before and after events, but will often turn up in the day with his children and grandchildren.
Our super volunteer celebrates his birthday at the pool.
Sometimes if we have volunteers with special needs they like being given specific jobs and roles, such as cleaning up. Having them on board makes running the sessions much easier.
A young volunteer aged 17 has just started coming along to do independent jobs such as gardening and jet washing. There are so many practical ways people can get involved as volunteers and help us.
We have raffle sellers and cake bakers who don’t even necessarily visit the Pool but we can still sell their wares!
Hold Celebration Events
We have held two Celebration Events for Volunteers at our local Social Club, I believe Interlink even paid for one of them! We’ve even had one put on for us by The Co-op!
Free Ice Cream and Sandwiches
Our local ‘Bongo’s ice Cream van also offers free ice cream to our Volunteers on hot days, and our local Greggs Shop provides free end of day produce for volunteers and for our Fit & Fed project in the summer. It certainly helps – our army of volunteers definitely march on their stomachs!
Our volunteer base is an intergenerational group.
Lee Gardens Volunteers
Finally, what top tips would you give other organisations looking to recruit volunteers?
-Have a friendly approach
-Balance the work and the social side
-Do the little things. Look out for lonely or bereaved people and invite them for a cuppa
Interlink would like to congratulate Lee Gardens Pool publicly on a great achievement and we thank Diane and Joanne for sharing the secrets of their success. Have you got a good news story about Volunteering? Please contact Thomas Crockett on 01443 846200 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org