Volunteers, and a ‘Thank You’!

The sun shone, the crowds came in their masses, ice cream and hot dogs were consumed in industrial quantities and this years 999 Emergency Services show was a massive success, with a lot of money raised for some very worthwhile causes.
The sun shone, the crowds came in their masses, ice cream and hot dogs were consumed in industrial quantities and this years 999 Emergency Services show was a massive success, with a lot of money raised for some very worthwhile causes.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked so hard to make the event the success that it undoubtedly was. Making it happen on the day was just the culmination of an effort that probably began as soon as last years event was over, and was only interrupted by the work needed to deliver a Bonfire Night equivalent occasion, another one of which will take place this year (ADVERT!!)
Whether Fire Service or other agency, volunteering or on duty, or even those that had worked in the background prior to the day itself, the support of a huge number of individuals was very much appreciated and made sure that THOUSANDS of members of our community got to meet their heroes, have some fun, and leave a good few £ lighter – all in the name of charity of course!
Events like this only happen because people are willing to give freely of their time for a cause that they believe in. Volunteering is developing a profile like never before, and the type of opportunities that people are able to volunteer for is ever widening. I had a couple of people asking me as a I walked around at the Emergency Services Show how they could get more involved in what we do, and I’m sure that there are more people out there.
Volunteering has a number of different facets. There is what we would look at as the more ‘traditional’ type of volunteering to support a good cause, this being what we saw at the show. Increasingly though some people are actually seeking to volunteer and do what can often be considered as traditional paid roles to get real life work experience.
I’m not going to make political comment about the effect of austerity on an organisation’s capacity to deliver services, nor David Cameron’s concept of a ‘big society’ where the roots of much of today’s new style of volunteering come from. I’d simply make the point that, for whatever reason, people are volunteering, they are enjoying it and benefitting from it, communities and supported organisations are better for it, and I’d like to have a closer look at it in West Yorkshire FRS. There are things that we used to do in a particular way that we can no longer deliver as we manage our budget, there are even things that we can’t do at all, or certainly not on the scale that we would like to. If there are people in our community who want to pitch in and get involved, then we should find a way to facilitate this.
One of THE volunteering successes of the last few years was the Tour de France. Without volunteers such as the Tour Makers, the event wouldn’t have been the massive success that it was. Our colleagues in West Yorkshire Police have a huge number of Special Constables, and have done for a while. Other FRS have made use of volunteers in numerous roles. Success, I think, is mixed but it’s an opportunity, and there are lots of lessons to learn from others.
I’ll confess to being cynical in the early days of this new ‘explosion’ in volunteering. I didn’t readily see why people would volunteer on the scale that they subsequently have. That said, I’ve volunteered for a long time as a school governor and Teach First coach. I undertook those roles because I wanted to learn more about schools and teaching as my children got to school age. I also wanted to give back to the community some of the skills and expertise that I had developed as a member of the public services. Experience tells me that it’s easy to under-estimate how well received you might be as a volunteer. My cynicism was therefore pretty unfounded, and having thought it through in recent months, I was wrong.

If you think about what we can offer the list is significant:

  • Valuable work experience for someone looking to get into work or develop their existing career
  • An opportunity to work with skilled professionals delivering a vital community service, and to see how they do it
  • For those, such as the retired, with time on their hands – an opportunity to remain busy and engaged in a very relevant and worthwhile way
  • An association with our ‘brand’
  • The opportunity to engage with the public from a diverse range of communities, and to learn about them and contribute to them
  • For us as a service we have an opportunity to work with our community in a way that we never have done before. 

 It doesn’t come completely free to us of course, it’s only reasonable to provide a uniform and expenses. It also takes effort to ensure that the right people become volunteers and a selection process is important, it’s not an open door to anyone who wants to come in. After all, in the eyes of the community a volunteer is rightly seen as member of our service just like everyone that we pay to come to work – to the community there is no difference. We will also need to manage volunteers in some way and have a good think about the range of roles that we may be able to offer, and how we go about delivering that. Striking the balance between the world of paid work, and the ethos of volunteering is a difficult one. The relationship is an entirely different one to that which we are used to managing.
I take my hat off to volunteers, I marvel at the level of dedication and the commitment offered. I’d like to find a way to tap this potential on the basis that there is something in it for everyone, and I’d like West Yorkshire FRS and the community that we serve to benefit. We haven’t really forayed into the world of volunteering as many others have, and now is as good a time as ever.
In closing I ask a favour of anyone who has read this far. You may be aware that the way in which this blog gets to be on your screen has changed this week. My access to the WordPress application has changed and you can now see the blog on the front page of the West Yorkshire FRS website as soon as I publish it – clever stuff which I don’t pretend to understand. If you could post a comment of some sort, however brief, it will allow us to check all of the ‘behind the scenes’ wiring to make sure that it works. If you post something and I don’t reply within 24 hours, it’s probably gone wrong so give me a ring or drop me an e-mail. Thank you!
Thanks to Matt Goodall for the ‘looking down’ photo from the CARP cage.

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2 thoughts on “Volunteers, and a ‘Thank You’!

  1. Hi Dave

    It was always my intention to carryout some form of volunteering when I reached retirement. Since retirement  from the service in March I have taken on two volunteering opportunities. Firstly I have applied to become a YAS Community first responder (training course is in December) and also I’m training towards  becoming a Duke of Edinburgh expedition assessor. Speaking for myself, both volunteering opportunities were chosen as a direct result of my previous employment with WYFRS as they were both closely linked to previous roles and it felt like my service would continue to have some value and can be used to the advantage of others. ( ok, I will  admit to the thrill of  turnout as well) I have to say that if volunteering opportunities were available within WYFRS this would have been my first choice and I look forward to future volunteering opportunities. There are so many people out there with excellent, relevant skills who will give their time that surely this resource has to be tapped into. Perhaps within the service, it will a hearts and minds battle to convince paid staff that there is relevance in volunteering and not to see it as a threat to themselves. The recruiting process for YAS was very straightforward considering the nature of incidents attended. (community responders only mobilise to immediate life threatening incidents only) my colleagues with YAS are from all walks of life and highly capable people. Some may have different motives to me and may be looking at volunteering as a way in increasing future employment opportunities or at least a CV boost but I don’t see anything wrong with this. I’m sure that if the right strand of volunteering could be identified for WYFRS then there would be a queue of  the right people willing to assist.  RegardsAndy  

    WordPress.com | davewaltonfire posted: “The sun shone, the crowds came in their masses, ice cream and hot dogs were consumed in industrial quantities and this years 999 Emergency Services show was a massive success, with a lot of money raised for some very worthwhile causes.The sun shone, the ” | | Respond to this post by replying above this line |

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    | | | | Volunteers, and a ‘Thank You’! by davewaltonfire |

    The sun shone, the crowds came in their masses, ice cream and hot dogs were consumed in industrial quantities and this years 999 Emergency Services show was a massive success, with a lot of money raised for some very worthwhile causes. The sun shone, the crowds came in their masses, ice cream and hot dogs were consumed in industrial quantities and this years 999 Emergency Services show was a massive success, with a lot of money raised for some very worthwhile causes.I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked so hard to make the event the success that it undoubtedly was. Making it happen on the day was just the culmination of an effort that probably began as soon as last years event was over, and was only interrupted by the work needed to deliver a Bonfire Night equivalent occasion, another one of which will take place this year (ADVERT!!) Whether Fire Service or other agency, volunteering or on duty, or even those that had worked in the background prior to the day itself, the support of a huge number of individuals was very much appreciated and made sure that THOUSANDS of members of our community got to meet their heroes, have some fun, and leave a good few £ lighter – all in the name of charity of course! Events like this only happen because people are willing to give freely of their time for a cause that they believe in. Volunteering is developing a profile like never before, and the type of opportunities that people are able to volunteer for is ever widening. I had a couple of people asking me as a I walked around at the Emergency Services Show how they could get more involved in what we do, and I’m sure that there are more people out there. Volunteering has a number of different facets. There is what we would look at as the more ‘traditional’ type of volunteering to support a good cause, this being what we saw at the show. Increasingly though some people are actually seeking to volunteer and do what can often be considered as traditional paid roles to get real life work experience. I’m not going to make political comment about the effect of austerity on an organisation’s capacity to deliver services, nor David Cameron’s concept of a ‘big society’ where the roots of much of today’s new style of volunteering come from. I’d simply make the point that, for whatever reason, people are volunteering, they are enjoying it and benefitting from it, communities and supported organisations are better for it, and I’d like to have a closer look at it in West Yorkshire FRS. There are things that we used to do in a particular way that we can no longer deliver as we manage our budget, there are even things that we can’t do at all, or certainly not on the scale that we would like to. If there are people in our community who want to pitch in and get involved, then we should find a way to facilitate this. One of THE volunteering successes of the last few years was the Tour de France. Without volunteers such as the Tour Makers, the event wouldn’t have been the massive success that it was. Our colleagues in West Yorkshire Police have a huge number of Special Constables, and have done for a while. Other FRS have made use of volunteers in numerous roles. Success, I think, is mixed but it’s an opportunity, and there are lots of lessons to learn from others. I’ll confess to being cynical in the early days of this new ‘explosion’ in volunteering. I didn’t readily see why people would volunteer on the scale that they subsequently have. That said, I’ve volunteered for a long time as a school governor and Teach First coach. I undertook those roles because I wanted to learn more about schools and teaching as my children got to school age. I also wanted to give back to the community some of the skills and expertise that I had developed as a member of the public services. Experience tells me that it’s easy to under-estimate how well received you might be as a volunteer. My cynicism was therefore pretty unfounded, and having thought it through in recent months, I was wrong.If you think about what we can offer the list is significant: – Valuable work experience for someone looking to get into work or develop their existing career – An opportunity to work with skilled professionals delivering a vital community service, and to see how they do it – For those, such as the retired, with time on their hands – an opportunity to remain busy and engaged in a very relevant and worthwhile way – An association with our ‘brand’ – The opportunity to engage with the public from a diverse range of communities, and to learn about them and contribute to them – For us as a service we have an opportunity to work with our community in a way that we never have done before.   It doesn’t come completely free to us of course, it’s only reasonable to provide a uniform and expenses. It also takes effort to ensure that the right people become volunteers and a selection process is important, it’s not an open door to anyone who wants to come in. After all, in the eyes of the community a volunteer is rightly seen as member of our service just like everyone that we pay to come to work – to the community there is no difference. We will also need to manage volunteers in some way and have a good think about the range of roles that we may be able to offer, and how we go about delivering that. Striking the balance between the world of paid work, and the ethos of volunteering is a difficult one. The relationship is an entirely different one to that which we are used to managing. I take my hat off to volunteers, I marvel at the level of dedication and the commitment offered. I’d like to find a way to tap this potential on the basis that there is something in it for everyone, and I’d like West Yorkshire FRS and the community that we serve to benefit. We haven’t really forayed into the world of volunteering as many others have, and now is as good a time as ever. In closing I ask a favour of anyone who has read this far. You may be aware that the way in which this blog gets to be on your screen has changed this week. My access to the WordPress application has changed and you can now see the blog on the front page of the West Yorkshire FRS website as soon as I publish it – clever stuff which I don’t pretend to understand. If you could post a comment of some sort, however brief, it will allow us to check all of the ‘behind the scenes’ wiring to make sure that it works. If you post something and I don’t reply within 24 hours, it’s probably gone wrong so give me a ring or drop me an e-mail. Thank you! Thanks to Matt Goodall for the ‘looking down’ photo from the CARP cage. davewaltonfire | July 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p4wqgt-4p | Comment |    See all comments |

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    1. Andy – Thanks for contributing. I think that you’ve summed it up in one go. Your perspective is exactly what I can see us tapping into, there must be many others like yourself out there. Watch this space and we’ll see what progress we can make. It seems a daft question to ask whether or not you are enjoying your retirement after a posting like that! Dave

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