Age UK | An interactive platform to maximise volunteer involvement in services for older people across the Age UK network



Why the work is being done

No group has been more deeply impacted by the Covid-19 crisis than older people. They will take much longer to return to ‘life as normal’ due to confusion and anxiety, or because of physical, emotional and financial difficulties exacerbated by months of isolation. Age UK volunteers are an essential part of the solution and many new volunteers have come forward to join the 620,000+ existing volunteers during this time of need. 

Age UK has a responsibility to ensure our volunteers are appropriately interviewed, verified, trained and supervised to deliver high quality, safe and effective support to older people. At present we manage all aspects of volunteer management differently across the 130 local Age UKs, often with inefficient and wasteful manual systems and in a disconnected way from newer external volunteering functions (such as GoodSam). We want to further develop our existing, bespoke Telephone Friendship Service system to enable us to manage volunteers across the whole Age UK network, coordinating remote recruitment, training and support of volunteers to enable them to deliver hands-on services for older people. 

Our solution is to develop a system which will enable us to manage volunteers across the whole Age UK network, coordinating remote recruitment, training and support of volunteers to enable them to deliver hands-on services for older people.

This will enable us to:
  • capitalise on new volunteers' desire to help
  • train them in line with changing social and health requirements 
  • provide them with a fulfilling volunteer experience
  • support more older people in real and urgent need due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • coordinate volunteers flexibly across multiple organisations.

By building on the existing solution and improving it to meet the internal administrative requirements and external volunteer experience requirements, we believe we can more quickly and cost-effectively deliver our solution.

This project is part of the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response funding initiative; a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and CAST, supported by the Catalyst network.

Problem to solve

622,839 volunteers currently support Age UK’s work with and for older people. We know improvements are needed to more efficiently support and utilise volunteers across our federated structure, but the recent effects of COVID-19 highlighted further challenges as well as opportunities that we are driven to address.

Who are the users and what do they need to do

There are two key user groups who require this development, Service or volunteer managers and volunteers themselves. A third user group, external volunteering applications (i.e. GoodSam), also have a stake in this to allow for improved joint working when filling volunteer vacancies.   

As a Service/Volunteer Manager, I would like to automate parts of the volunteer on-boarding process so that I can ensure all volunteers have a consistent experience and so that we involve volunteers in service delivery as rapidly as possible.

As a Service/Volunteer Manager, I would like access to a system that allows me to easily transfer volunteers through our network, between organisations in my region and to external volunteer applications (such as GoodSam) so that I can effectively connect volunteers to the greatest areas of need.

As a Volunteer, I would like a faster and simplified journey from my point of application to the time I take up a role so that I can begin as soon as possible.

As a Volunteer, I would like to be able to complete training in a time convenient to me and to be able to revisit the training as and when I need to so that I can remain clear on the requirements of my role.As an External Volunteering organisation or application, I would like to connect volunteers to organisations with volunteer vacancies so that we can help meet the needs of older people in need.
Key outputs:
  • Automated volunteer intake system providing volunteers:
  • Menu of volunteer role options
  • Corresponding application and initial reference and training requirements for the role they’re signing up to deliver
  • API to connect volunteer data with most common Age UK organisation databases (i.e. CRM, Charitylog, Salesforce) and to passport volunteer data from external databases (i.e. Good Sam)
  • Automated LMS enrolment, assignment and monitoring (likely with Moodle)
  • Volunteer role listing format with filter functions by postcode and key words
  • Automated communications triggered by specific actions/events. 

Key project resources