Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee: 9th July 2014


Report of the Voluntary Sector


Step Forward Progress Report July 2013 – March 2014


Purpose of the Report

1.         To report on the progress of the Step Forward Project at the end of the first year.


That the Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee receives the report for information and acknowledges the success and outcomes of the project.


Reasons for the Recommendations

As required by the terms of the Voluntary Action Scheme Grant.



2.         The Vale Volunteer Bureau's (VVB) core service is to recruit, interview, refer and place volunteers with recruiting organisations. As part of this process we noted that some potential volunteers who were in receipt of benefits or economically inactive did not take up volunteering. On further investigation it was identified that some of their reasons for this  included a lack of soft skills for example; not being confident, mental health issues including anxiety of getting to the volunteering placement on their own, a lack of knowledge of local transport links, etc.


3.         As a result of this a successful consortium bid was submitted to the BIG Lottery to fund a 2 year supported young persons (Under 25) volunteering project. The funding for this project came to an end in March 2014 but proved to be extremely successful in supporting young people into volunteering. However, despite this were still finding that there are those aged 25+ who are still not engaging in volunteering for similar reasons as highlighted above. Within our core service we do not have the capacity be able to provide the additional support required for these participants to succeed in volunteering. 


4.         The Step Forward Project aims to support unemployed and economically inactive people aged (25+) who reside in the Vale of Glamorgan to identify suitable volunteering placements that meet their requirements. Volunteering offers a wide variety of benefits for individuals including an opportunity to try different career paths, give something back to their community, greater social interaction, enhanced CV, references for employment, interview skills, time keeping, gain confidence, build self-esteem, access training and qualifications in some circumstances. All of which can help unemployed and economically inactive people develop essential skills that are transferrable to the work place.


Relevant Issues and Options

5.         During the first 9 months of the project 138 volunteers were interviewed. The original target was to place 35 volunteers into volunteering opportunities of their choice. This target was exceeded and a total of 56 volunteers were placed with recruiting organisations.


6.         It was identified at the beginning of the project that around 40% - 50% of volunteers had mental health needs and this was the main barrier to access volunteering. This ranged from anxiety, depression and confidence issues to more serious conditions such as bi-polar and schizophrenia. This has dropped to 30% as the project has continued. I suspect that the figure should have been higher again as many volunteers chose not to disclose their mental health condition even though it was an obvious barrier. The figures as shown in appendix 1 reflect what barriers people are facing.


7.         Another outcome of the project is to deliver the Agored Cymru accredited Levels 1 to 3 in 'Volunteering and Community Participation’. The booklets are provided by YMCA Community College who also assess and issue the certificates. There was an initial delay in delivering the accreditation as the post holder was required to undertake their mandatory training which has now taken place. One student has successfully completed and another 11 students have enrolled with their booklets being submitted in June 2014. There is a requirement of 10 teaching hours per booklet which is set by the YMCA College which we were not aware of at the initial bid. The target for 2014 – 2015 is 22 booklets to deliver with the outstanding 2013 – 2014 booklets to be submitted alongside.


8.         As well as recording the main barriers people faced when considering volunteering we have also recorded their reasons behind volunteering. Due to the changes within the benefits system there are an increasing number of people wanting, or feeling, as though they need to volunteer in order to continue receiving their benefits and eventually find work.


9.         Weekly one to one sessions are held at both Barry and Penarth JCP.  These have proved very successful with sessions often booked up well in advance. 


10.       Three case studies have been completed for 2013 – 2014 and a number have been identified and have agreed to document their progress in a form of a case study. The initial case studies can be found in appendix 2.


11.       Since April 2014 we have agreed to track progression of participants after they have begun their volunteering journey.  This is to bring our reporting in line with the Vale of Glamorgan's RBA reporting procedure.  Previously we only tracked a volunteer into their volunteering placement. We are also working collaboratively with Adult Learning as a number of participants would like to access employment related courses such as retail, manual handling and computer courses. We will be capturing any additional positive outcomes that a participant may gain on their volunteering journey.


Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.       The monetary value of volunteering is the Vale of Glamorgan is £46,470,000.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council provides £650,000 to the Voluntary Sector by way of grant assistance. It is evident that this small investment provides a staggering return in voluntary activity within the Vale of Glamorgan.



Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

13.       The Vale Volunteer Bureau works with potential volunteers and recruiting organisations that contribute towards sustainability and climate change.


Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.       There are no legal implications arising from this report, although the work of the VVB will benefit local communities which will have a positive impact on human rights.


Crime and Disorder Implications

15.       Increased volunteering leads to greater social inclusion; several volunteering opportunities assist in the promotion of community safety, diversionary activities for young people and crime reduction.


Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.       The VVB x policies, procedures and working practices underpin the work of the organisation and its commitment to equal opportunities. We aim to provide volunteering opportunities to all sections of the community.


Corporate/Service Objectives

17.       The work of the VVB contributes to the Council’s priorities for Community Strategy. 


Responsible Officer:

Gemma Murphy Volunteering Support Officer. Vale Volunteer Bureau