Published 02 February 2015
(Originally published on https://www.dur.ac.uk/volunteer/aboutus/svonews)
Durham University has been reaccredited with the national Investing in Volunteers for Employers award, in recognition of its Staff Volunteering & Outreach programme. Durham is the only university in the UK to have received reaccreditation to date, and demonstrates its commitment to supporting the local community and its staff members. The Investing in Volunteers for Employers is a national quality standard overseen by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and involved a self-assessment and three-day site visit.
Since the Staff Volunteering & Outreach programme’s inception in 2009, hundreds of Durham University staff members have registered as volunteers. Through the scheme, any staff member can volunteer for up to 5-days per year, during work time (pro-rata for part-time staff members), subject to line manager authorisation.
Volunteers have been involved in a large range of activities, and within the past two years over 350 staff members have participated in Team Challenge events. Through these activities staff members have worked with Community Partners including: St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham to produce marketing and fundraising event plans, made over 100 Christmas Cards for Changing Lives, cleared drainage ditches at the RSPB Saltholme Reserve in Teesside, constructed Otter Holts with Durham Wildlife Trust, and sorted donations for numerous Foodbanks within the region.
Staff members have also used the volunteering scheme to enable them to pursue their existing volunteering commitments, such as being youth club leaders, mountain rescue volunteers, first aiders, Trustees and School Governors. A staff survey in 2014 found that many staff members found the opportunity to volunteer highly positive, and that participating in such activities supported their personal development. One respondent said: “I would thoroughly recommend staff to get involved, particularly in a team challenge event, or to take up a cause that is close to them, as I did with school governance. You can learn a lot, develop skills, and make a difference.”