Volunteering @ the Heart of Civil Society 

It's vital that small, frontline charities have access to affordable training and network events

At London Plus we are always interested in finding ways of working with our network to help them share their skills, knowledge and experience.

At the end of 2018, we were approached by Karen Chilman at Croydon Volunteer Centre who argued that smaller charities were not able to access the huge amount of experience and know-how that existed within local volunteer centres. Smaller charities were being asked to pay exorbitant fees for conferences that could be provided locally and at a much-reduced cost.

She partnered with three other south London volunteer centres; Volunteer Centre Merton, Volunteer Centre Greenwich and Bromley Community Links, as well as London Plus, NCVO, Partnership for Young London and secured support from the Mayor of London to run a one-day Conference in Croydon, held on the 19th of March.

Volunteering @ the Heart of Civil Society was affordably priced and aimed at small, medium and large charities, offering discounts to the smallest. The fee included a free toolkit and the opportunity for a follow-up support session at a local volunteer centre.

The conference addressed the future of volunteering, volunteering trends and developments and the importance of recognising the impact of volunteering within our communities. A guest speaker was Steve Reed, the MP for Croydon North and shadow minister for civil society. The packed programme of workshops included topics like community resilience planning funding, effective volunteer policies, recruitment and management.

The event evaluation was overwhelmingly positive and interestingly, although it was aimed at south London organisations and held in Croydon, there was 50:50 split between organisations based locally and those based elsewhere – including some based outside London.

‘At Volunteer Centre Croydon we are always looking for ways to share ‘best practice’ in volunteer management. This is just one of the ways that we can learn from each other and I hope that we will be able to make this an annual event’. Karen Chilman

London Plus exists to harness the skills within our civil society network for greater effectiveness. Volunteering @ the Heart of Civil Society was an excellent example of the network playing to its strengths, maximising its impact and showing the value it can bring to Londoners.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this event a success.