Volunteer Recruitment

Woodcraft Folk is an organisation that thrives on the efforts of its volunteers. As a group leader you will almost certainly need to put some effort into recruiting and inducting new volunteers if your group is to be successful and sustainable. In particular, volunteers may leave your group or choose to support an older age group as their own children get older. Having a diverse team of volunteers is important in providing a quality experience for children and young people in the group, and can also help create a culture that is welcoming to children and young people from diverse backgrounds.
The Volunteer Toolkit is a helpful guide to recruiting and supporting volunteers, and contains sample adverts, case studies and more. Our Guide to Volunteering includes lots of ideas for different roles and tasks that you could ask volunteers to take on, depending on how much time they are able to commit.

A large proportion of leaders and volunteers in Woodcraft Folk groups are parents/carers whose own children are in the movement. Because you will have regular contact with the parents of the young people in your group, this is perhaps the easiest source of potential volunteers to tap into.
It is helpful to ensure that parents and carers have an understanding of what Woodcraft Folk is about, what we hope to achieve for children and young people, and that they appreciate from the outset that Woodcraft Folk groups are run entirely by volunteers. Running the Introduction to Woodcraft Folk session for new parents on a regular basis can help your group to do this – a detailed session plan is available on the Woodcraft Folk website.
Many groups ensure that they ask parents/carers when their children join the group if they are able to volunteer their time to support the group in some way. This could be by running sessions, whether on an occasional or a regular basis, but there are lots of other ideas for large and small tasks that volunteers can take on in the Volunteer Guide.
Some points to consider:
Adults volunteering with Woodcraft Folk have both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all children and young people, not just their own child. As a group, it needs to be clear how you will work together to ensure that this is the case.
It can be a natural assumption that parents will move up to a new age group with their child – but this doesn’t have to be the case. If a volunteer has a strong aptitude for working with Elfins, can the group support them to continue to work with the Elfin group even when their child has become a Pioneer
Asking parents and carers if they can support the work of their child’s group in some way is an excellent idea – but it should never become a condition of the child being part of the group. It may be impossible – or undesirable – for some adults to volunteer with Woodcraft Folk, but this shouldn’t lead to their children being (or feeling) excluded.
The same screening procedures apply to parents as to any other volunteers. In particular, anyone volunteering regularly (once a month or more) must complete a DBS check (or a PVG check in Scotland).
A group where the majority of volunteers are also parents of children in the group can pose its own challenges (see Section 3.3, Managing Volunteer Teams), although these can be easily overcome if you discuss how you will respond to these issues and communicate effectively as a team.
Young kinsfolk
Young leaders who do not have their own children in the group can provide a helpful balance in teams where most volunteers are parents. There are some groups where the majority of leaders are young kinsfolk rather than parents. Young people of Venturer age in particular can respond very positively to leadership by young kinsfolk.
Younger leaders may be recent ‘graduates’ from Woodcraft groups themselves, either within your own district or in another part of the UK. Others may join Woodcraft because they support our Aims & Principles and have a desire to volunteer with children and young people. It is important to appreciate that young kinsfolk may be motivated to volunteer with a group for slightly different reasons to parent volunteers, and have different demands and limitations on their time.
If you have a Venturer or DF group in your District, you can make conscious efforts to create a culture that is positive for young leaders, thereby increasing the chances that young people will continue as leaders once they outgrow their own group. This might include:
Asking a Venturer group to work together to plan a session for the Elfins once a term
Including young people in your district meetings
Encouraging Venturers and DFs to take on responsibilities at camp (e.g. clan leader), or ‘shadow’ and experienced leader doing a big job like being the KP
Resources to support young kinsfolk include:
Leading for the Future, a resource pack to develop leadership skills for young people
Bored Meetings is a resource that helps young people to participate in committees and meetings
Mentoring (see Section 5.1, Sources of Support)
Volunteer bureaux
Most areas in the UK will be served by one or more organisations that exist to match potential volunteers to appropriate opportunities in their communities. These can include:
Voluntary sector support organisations, such as your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)
Dedicated volunteer bureaux
Schemes run by Students’ Unions, colleges and universities
Local Timebank schemes
 There are also a number of UK-wide schemes, including vInspired and Do-It.org that promote volunteering opportunities online.
These organisations have different ways of working, but most will provide you with the opportunity register, usually for free, and post your volunteering opportunities online so that prospective volunteers can browse them.
You will improve both the quality and quantity of applications you get if you can be specific about the roles you are seeking volunteers to fill. Make sure that the advertisement or role description refers to:
The age of the young members and the size of the group
The types of activities the group does
What tasks you will expect the volunteer to perform
How they will be supported and supervised
It’s important that all volunteers understand and support Woodcraft Folk’s aims, so it is also a good idea to include a brief overview of the organisation and its values in any advert. You can find a range of example adverts and role descriptions on the website.
Registering with a volunteer bureau will complement other approaches you may be using to recruit volunteers, and has the potential to reach people that you would not attract through your own networks. To make the most of this opportunity, it helps to have a flexible approach. Volunteers referred through a volunteer bureau may have different motivations and expectations from parents and young kinsfolk, for example they may be seeking some practical experience of working with children and young people to help with their employment prospects.
Often, potential volunteers will be exploring a number of potential opportunities at the same time. It’s important that you are able to respond to enquiries/referrals in a timely manner. The availability of training or volunteer expenses may be more important for these volunteers than it is for parents who are motivated by wishing to see their child’s Elfin group continue. You can find a ?Volunteer Enrolment Form? online, which you could ask people to complete, or use to guide an informal discussion with a potential volunteer.