Virginia Büls

Volunteer Management Trainee , Stackpole

Virginia Büls - Volunteer Management Trainee

Virginia took part in our Volunteer Management Traineeship at Stackpole, matching volunteering opportunities with the needs of young people working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. The project was a success, and here, Virginia explains why.

Young volunteers helping to relocate a bug hotel

What was your ambition for youth volunteering in Stackpole?

I wanted to develop new approaches to volunteering because at Stackpole I could see there was potential for involving young people in volunteering, but no structure that would help us to develop this offer. This is why we began to offer opportunities that would help young people who were working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

What was the feedback you received at the time?

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Administrator gave us some very positive feedback, and we now have a great relationship with the team there. Some of the parents of the young people who took part have also approached me to say how much the scheme has helped their child grow in confidence.

Visitors to the area, who’ve seen the group working, are often pleasantly surprised to learn they are local young people giving up their free time, and many stop to let me know how well they’re doing.

What was the main challenge you faced?

Initially, some members of staff were unsure if the group would complete the tasks to a satisfactory standard. To overcome this, I made sure the task was explained fully to the group, also explaining why it was important to be finished to a high standard. I also sought feedback, after the sessions, from the staff to ensure they were happy with the work done.

What advice would you give to other organisations in the heritage sector, looking to run a similar scheme?

Start by being really clear on your objectives for your volunteering project, as this helps other organisations you might want to work with buy into it easily. In this case, it was essential to show the team at Duke of Edinburgh what we could offer young people.

Next, you need to plan the activities carefully to ensure basics like correct tools, risk assessments etc. are in place. And lastly, never forget the power of praise, or chocolate biscuits.

What has been the lasting impact of the project?

Some of the young people who got involved have continued to volunteer with us regularly, outside of their Duke of Edinburgh Award, moving on to helping at our events – a real sign of long-term success for the project.