Sector Challenge 7: Redefining volunteering
Why the work is being done
Early childhood development, which begins before birth and extends to the preschool years is a critical life stage. The experiences and environments a child encounters will have significant impact on their social, emotional and physical development. Unequal access to support for families of different ethnicities, geographies and income brackets has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Read more here.
Volunteers are a core part of how organisations supporting children, parents and families deliver their services. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and organisations adapted their services for remote delivery we've seen some volunteers inundated with work and responsibilities while others have less to do than before.
Volunteers in this sector have had a great amount of training and a lot come with lived experience and context. To have such talent overworked or undervalued undermines the great respect they deserve.
Problem to solve
How might early years rethink the volunteering model to leverage volunteers as a skilled group of people who are not bound to a single organisation or service?
This work should encourage volunteers to see themselves as a valuable part of the early years ecosystem and offer them a sense of agency in the work they do. It should also help organisations working in early years to get volunteers to the right part of the system at the right time and be able to leverage their skills effectively.
Who are the users and what do they need to do
Organisations that rely on volunteers to support parents. Particularly those who:
- Lead peer support programmes
- Focus on families hardest hit by COVID-19 (e.g. those facing issues around mental health, digital poverty, isolation and bereavement)
Families hit hardest by COVID-19 (including those facing issues around mental health, digital poverty, isolation and bereavement) have access to skilled volunteers.