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Virtual Volunteer Induction Programme (V-VIP) 6th Child and Family UNESCO Presentation, NUI Galway

Increasing volunteer capacity through a collaborative learning framework: The New Zealand Virtual Volunteer Induction Programme (V-V.I.P)
Annick Janson, Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (1)

The importance of volunteer contributions
Volunteers contribute significantly to the social support of vulnerable families (2). The paradox is that many of the small social service organisations that rely on volunteers are stretched for resources. Their struggle with volunteer induction or retaining endangers the very impact they are aiming to make.

The Diffusion of Innovation initiative 
  • The Virtual Volunteer Induction Programme (3) is a knowledge-sharing and diffusion of innovation initiative developed by the Peer Learning project funded by UNESCO New Zealand. 
  • We build on the framework described by Greenhalgh et al (2004) that unpacks the role of the different transformational agents in this dissemination model. 
  • The online programme allows organisations to articulate the specific ways that volunteers can help them achieve them their mission – through lively video interviews that provide lived-experience and examples of supporting families. We harness volunteer knowledge to help organisations strengthen recruiting capacity, offer more efficient training and reduce volunteer workforce turnover.

Knowledge to Action
  • Collaborations for the pilot study: service providers to the disability sector. 
  • Results demonstrated that the learning paradigm enhanced social support by increasing social connectedness at different levels in social service organisations: managers and volunteer workforce.
  1. Managers of volunteer staff learn from each other’s experiences (4) and are able to create better value from volunteer time. To deal with recurring learning, managers can direct volunteers to stories accessible on the repository – rather than repeat the same stories with different trainees. 
  2. Volunteers are supported through induction and further training. The platform provides a compelling way to learn as they access the online repository on demand. Volunteers feel more control over their training. They engage in reflective practice and apply new learning faster in their work with families undergoing adversity. 
  3. General impact: Freeing capacity with managers and volunteers to use their face-to-face supervision and training for unexpected or more complex issues. 

This approach supports organisations adopting person driven practice philosophies to guide their engagement with clients (Dolan, Pinkerton, and Canavan, 2006) (5). The peer-learning platform is one of the mechanisms through which they can promote social inclusion and help staff – and clients - build resilience.

1 Annick Janson is a Clinical Psychologist with a PhD in Management Systems (virtual leadership) from the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
2 The New Zealand Disability Commissioner emphasised the struggle to increase volunteer power to cater to the variety of needs of people with disabilities.
3  Innovation framework reference 
4 An as example, Maree shares turning points on her learning pathway about leading volunteers.
5 Dolan, P., Pinkerton, J. and Canavan, J. (eds.) (2006) Family Support as Reflective Practice. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 

View this presentation on the Child and Family UNESCO (NUI Galway) site

Deep appreciation to our funders: UNESCO New Zealand Commission and the Think Differently Campaign, Ministry of Social Development.