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New Approaches to Volunteering -Disrupt Innovate Change.

Updated: Mar 16

Groop Conference – November 21st 2019, Baden Powell House, Kensington, London.





Groop has a vision that everyone belongs, is inspired to take part and able to embrace life’s opportunities. Our mission is to strengthen, secure and connect groups for a greater society. Volunteers, people who want to help in a variety of ways, are key to this.


Volunteering is positively linked with mental well-being, as well as, individual and community development’ Active Lives Survey 2018


The team at Groop want to drive change and encourage more people to get involved and volunteer. We all volunteer, we understand volunteering and we are constantly learning more from our customers about volunteering. We all need inspiration at times so we planned our volunteering conference New Approaches to Volunteering – Disrupt Innovate Change on the 21st November 2019 to provide an opportunity for people who are interested in volunteering, opening those opportunities up to the widest group of people possible, reaching across all communities and providing opportunities in new, diverse and innovative ways. Our aim was to bring together people who would share and learn from their volunteering experiences; and to start a conversation about the future of volunteering.


“I really enjoyed the big variety of presentations, from Sports, to older people, young people and crime.It is not always easy to get such a wide range of speakers and all of them with very relevant content.” Nuria de Miguel. Independent Age


Our Speakers.


We invited speakers of all ages and backgrounds, across sectors and at all levels of involvement in volunteering to share their experiences and help start a conversation that was chaired expertly on the day Andy Reed OBE of Saje Impact and The Sports Think Tank.


Sally Higham, CEO, Groop talked about how volunteering can open up life chances, improve your own health and well-being and build opportunities for yourself and others – ultimately creating your own personal eco-system around your work and your personal life.


“Some great stories coming out from everyone here about the beginning of their #MyStrengthCurve. Sally Higham has got people thinking about where it all began….”





Sally introduced her MyStrengthCurve© and encouraged others to reflect on their own volunteering journeys. Jenny Betteridge, Strategic Lead Volunteering, Sport England asked the question – Does the volunteering that supports our communities, reflect our communities? She talked about the outcomes & impact of a more diverse volunteer-force, demonstrating that yes ‘someone like me’ does volunteer.


Jacqueline Sebire, Assistant Chief Constable, Bedfordshire Police outlined the importance of partnerships with the voluntary sector and communities to support young people at risk of involvement in violent crime and gangs.


“The speakers were excellent. Especially the ‘young volunteers’ section which challenged us to innovate, and talked in real and practical terms. Really good we had the police there and Sport England.” Alex Beaumont. LTA


Rebecca Kennelly, Director of Volunteers, Royal Voluntary Service introduced RVS’s recent research report – Kickstarting a Volunteer Revolution.


“I enjoyed the morning sessions; the variety of speakers and sectors. The RVS session was particularly helpful with the development of our volunteer strategy and the younger panel members very impressive.”


Cormac Whelan, Programmes Manager, Positive Youth Foundation highlighted how social action is the key to youth empowerment. James Ogundare, Youth Advisory Group, Positive Youth Foundation talked about his experience as a young volunteer and how he gained employability skills.





Maria Imran, Trustee, Creative Youth Network read out her poem with a call to action for organisations who are seeking volunteers to reach out to young people.


“19 years old – Maria Imran @Creative_Youth wow! So much confidence, inspiration, commitment and leadership! Powerful presentation welcomed by all.”


Katie Taylor, Partnerships Executive, Groop spoke about her personal loneliness and how volunteering benefited her as much as the people she supports.


‘It started with – do you want a hand’ @GroopKatie on her micro-volunteering and helping Nina, her 88 year old friend.


Tony Jameson-Allen, Co-Founder and Director at Sporting Memories Network CiC and the Sporting Memories Foundation discussed how to recruit, train and retain volunteers.


Bridget Craigen, Youth Work Commissioner (QA and Learning) and Vicky Young, Senior Youth and Community Commissioner, Essex County Council shared their journey of moving from direct delivery of youth work to building capacity in communities; and working with volunteers to support 300 youth clubs and projects; and how young volunteers are at the heart of all their work, from service design to delivery.


Tris Lumley, Director of Innovation and Development, NPC challenged the conference to consider if we have to put informal volunteering into structures; and to celebrate the ‘being human’ part of volunteering and drive up from the bottom and educate the top.


“For volunteering as a topic to be given such a tremendous platform for debate, discussion, engagement and enrichment speaks volumes to importance all those in the sector truly believe it holds for the charity and public sectors but also society at large. To gather so many industry professionals together for such inspiring, informative and enlightening sharing of best practice, experience, common challenges and suggested solutions was a real privilege to be a part of. The energy, enthusiasm and atmosphere in the room definitely spoke to the new era volunteering is beginning to merge in to and I truly felt like between us we perhaps began a bit of a social movement to disrupt, innovate and change the face of volunteering for the future.” Rebecca Poppleton. Senior Volunteer Acquisition Manager. Cancer Research UK

Over the course of the day, the conference speakers and delegates through intuitive questions and feedback considered a range of issues and questions.





There are a number of studies that indicate that in the region of 50% of the UK population volunteer at any one time, and also that most people in the UK volunteer at some point in their lives. Studies also show that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to volunteer and that some volunteer teams do not reflect the communities they serve culturally or ethnically.

Rebecca Kennelly, RVS, spoke about how 56% of people from the lowest socio-economic groups are not volunteering but that by making the offer more flexible, more people across all backgrounds may be able to get involved.


“How can we make volunteering more accessible?” Director of Volunteering for the @RoyalVolService Rebecca Kennelly, spoke to our audience at the #GroopConference2019 and wants to start a conversation so we can continue to celebrate the joy of #volunteering


Organisations could start thinking about how they can meet the needs and interests of all the individuals who are interested in volunteering, ensuring they are able to offer their help at times and in ways they are able to; they may want to provide different things to different organisations and not just commit to one organisation or one form of volunteering.

Recruitment processes could be changed to ask people if they have a special skill or something that they love to do that they would like to offer or share, rather than just continuing to advertise roles or ask for long term commitment. Organisations may be putting off volunteers by having on-boarding processes that take too long or feel too complicated and could consider creating a new infrastructure that offers individuals the opportunity to identify volunteering tasks which match their availability and skill set, without the need to become affiliated to an organisation – most people, if asked, will offer to help or volunteer!


“Stop thinking about the roles you need as an organisation – think about the people and their talent and how you can use it. How your organisation can change the process.” Rebecca Kennelly, RVS.





By introducing new and innovative ways of volunteering, i.e. micro, online, task-based and virtual volunteering, organisations can provide volunteering opportunities that can fit into people’s lives. Targeted and skill-based and short-term support can often be more effective than traditional volunteering and may be more attractive to potential volunteers as it takes less time than a weekly commitment.


“It is so important to offer both targeted and open community opportunities through partnerships, using youth voice and volunteering as a way to tackle some of societies biggest challenges.”  Helen Killengley. Trustee Access Sports. Spirit of 2012


Bridget Craigen, Essex County Council outlined the importance of Listening and working in partnership with volunteers, young and old, to make sustainable clubs in the communities.” She explained the importance of involving young people “At Essex Youth Service we empower our young people – they are at the heart of all our work, from service design to delivery. They are part of the commissioning process within SEND, volunteering and schools ensuring sustainable social action.”


Speakers talked about the importance of retaining volunteers as well as recruiting new ones.

"It is no surprise that the initial gloss derived from volunteering begins to wear off after time, but organisations should use this insight to emphasise the personal benefits to be gained from volunteering. Highlighting these benefits even more than currently might help to attract more people for the first time, or those who had volunteered at some point in the past but have since given up.’ Kickstarting a Volunteer Revolution – Royal Voluntary Service 2019


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Conference delivered in association with Why Sports

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