What a fantastic start to Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June) to receive the news that Barnet councillors have unanimously approved the council’s first ever dedicated Volunteering Strategy (2023-26) *.
The strategy sets out proposals for supporting the thousands of volunteers across the borough, while developing volunteering in Barnet over the next three years.
It also aims to recognise, celebrate and accredit volunteers’ contributions, while making the system more effective by matching people’s skills with projects where they can really make a difference.
Councillor Zahra Beg, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Communities & the Voluntary Sector said: “The volunteering strategy has been developed with our incredible community of volunteers and organisations. We’ve done this following reflections and experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued growth in volunteering, across the borough.
“Barnet’s Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) organisations provide vital services to our residents, thanks to the large numbers of volunteers giving up their time, skills, and knowledge for the benefit of our community.
“As a council we aim to showcase this good work whenever we can and celebrate the contribution volunteers make to Barnet. Together we can build stronger communities through volunteering.”
Barnet’s Volunteering Strategy was produced by Volunteering Barnet** in consultation with over 200 volunteers and many VCFSE organisations. It sets out the collective vision, values and priorities required to develop, support and recognise volunteering for all. Volunteering Barnet is a partner organisation alongside Young Barnet Foundation and Inclusion Barnet in Barnet Together.***
Katrina Baker, Director of Volunteering Barnet, Groundwork and Barnet Together partner said: “It has been a privilege for Volunteering Barnet and the Barnet Together Alliance to coproduce the Borough’s first Volunteer Strategy with communities, volunteers and partners. There can be no stronger voice to champion and recognise the importance of volunteering, than when we collectively come together to set the vision and the direction for the future.
“At Volunteering Barnet, the Borough’s volunteer service, we hear every day the positive feedback and inspiring stories about volunteers making a difference in our communities. We hope that this strategy will inspire volunteering across all communities and sectors and by delivering its priorities, together we will provide a service and volunteering support that meets the needs of Barnet for years to come.”
In 2022, the Volunteering Barnet volunteer survey showed that among 6,000 registered volunteers in the borough, 38% were volunteering once a week or more frequently. Volunteers reported that volunteering helped them feel more connected to the local community, leading to a sense of belonging and purpose. 92% of volunteers surveyed were interested in or wanted to continue to volunteer in the future.
*The Volunteering Strategy (2023-26) was approved at the Community Leadership and Libraries Committee meeting on May 11, 2023.
**Volunteering Barnet has been the borough’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (NCVO) accredited volunteer centre since 2015, providing the overarching volunteering support for groups and volunteers. Its online database connects voluntary organisations with over 6000 local people who have registered to volunteer. Its services include hosting support sessions and induction sessions for volunteers, and providing training, tailored support and guidance for organisations.
***Barnet Together is a partnership established in 2018 between Young Barnet Foundation, Volunteering Barnet and Inclusion Barnet. Barnet Together is a free capacity building support service for the borough’s Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector. It supports local VCFSEs with funding, training, resources and advice, and offers a platform for stronger sector representation, voice and connection. Barnet Together services are available to all members of Young Barnet Foundation, Volunteering Barnet and Inclusion Barnet, with each partner organisation bringing their own specialisms, knowledge and assets.