Wanted: Community Researchers to Help Volunteers Thrive

Wanted: community researchers to help volunteers thrive

Community volunteers are holding two drop-ins at the Dudson Centre as a first step in their bid to understand the big issues facing older volunteers in North Staffordshire.

Working in partnership with Staffordshire University, the Vintage Volunteers team at VAST want to make it easier for older people to get involved in volunteering and make a difference in their communities.

Vintage Volunteers project manager Steve Terry said: “We want to know what it is that prevents people volunteering so that we can improve access to rewarding opportunities and enable more people to volunteer in later life.

“We believe the best way of understanding the ‘barriers to volunteering’ for people in later life is to get older people leading the research. It’s often the case that older people are left out of research, so it is important that they are given a collective voice.”

The drop-ins will take place at the Dudson Centre in Hanley between 1pm – 3pm on Tuesday 13th November 2018 and Wednesday 28th November 2018 where people are invited to find out more about the research project and share their experiences over tea and cake.

New recruits will then be invited to train as peer researchers which will start at the Dudson Centre in mid-January.

Steve added: “Over the course of six training sessions, they’ll learn how to conduct community consultation and design and deliver their own research.

“Participants are involved at all stages of the research process; from planning who we need to talk to and carrying out interviews to analysing findings and making recommendations. There will be lots of opportunity to work together as team, share ideas, be creative and share research findings with other people.”

During and after similar projects, participants have reported making new friends, gaining new skills and knowledge, feeling valued and a sense of pride.

Staffordshire University Cultural and Community Engagement Lead Nic Gratton said: “This is incredibly powerful research which, as well as impacting positively on volunteering for older people, also counts as personal and professional development. Participants can, if they want, use their experience to work towards a Staffordshire University Level 3 Certificate of Credit although this is entirely optional.

“It’s most important to us that the project is fun and enjoyable and people feel supported from start to finish.”

Anybody wanting to know more about the project can speak to a member of the Vintage Volunteers team on 01782 683030 or email info@vintagevolunteers.org.uk

Notes to editors: Staffordshire University have been running the Get Talking training since 2002 and has worked with community groups and individuals to help them consult within their communities.  Most recently they worked with Reach, an advocacy group for people with learning disabilities.  Together they supported a group of 10 peer researchers, all with learning disabilities, to carry out research with over 80 people with learning disabilities in Stoke-on-Trent, to find out what gets in the way of them accessing culture.