By Richard Fraser, Editor
“As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers' wellbeing too. It’s human nature to feel good after helping someone out. Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost your confidence.”
Voice would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all our volunteers – the Workplace Representatives and Contacts, local authority consultative committee and teachers' panel representatives, Field Officers, Council Members, regional federation officials, e-focus group members, recruiters, SACRE and health and safety representatives and others – who play such a valuable role in supporting, advising, representing and informing members in their places of work and providing a bridge between employee and employer. These volunteers help colleagues in their own workplace or local area, backed by paid union staff at regional and national level.
In our rapidly changing environment, our representatives and volunteers all play a massive and vital role in Voice, acting as our eyes and ears, keeping us up to date on developments in their area and ultimately, helping us to build a stronger and larger union by recruiting and retaining members. Volunteers can also help by organising members in the workplace to gain influence with both employers and the government.
Why should I volunteer?
Becoming an active member of Voice is enriching and rewarding. It will not only improve your personal skills, but it will also help you to become more knowledgeable and confident at your workplace and in your personal life. When you have helped a colleague, it will also give you a sense of achievement. You can:
- make a difference;
- help to improve your working environment;
- learn new skills through a variety of free training opportunities; and
- ensure that your voice is heard.
Voice Volunteers talk about what volunteering means to them:
"There's the satisfaction that you've been able to help a member who will be able to sleep that night knowing something can be done to help them, that they're not alone.
"I advised members on their workplace problems and took part in negotiations on the change to academy status. I was able to offer information and reassurance, letting members know about what the change would mean, their employment rights and how their terms and conditions would be protected under TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations]. Members needed advice on issues such as maternity leave.
"It's good to be able to make a difference in a positive way. We're all here to do our job, but it's sometimes necessary to make a little effort to make that difference rather that sit and moan about things and do nothing.
"Yes, being a Field Officer does take a certain level of commitment, but facilities time is often available, depending on the local authority, so you can take time out of work for meetings etc. You can take the role at your own pace and give as much time as you want.
“Support is there from the Regional Officer and the HQ team so they can take up the slack if you can't do something. That support is very important and they are there to help."
"My role involves keeping members informed about Voice and any new information or legislation that occurs in education. Recently, this has included liaising with the senior leadership team and Voice members to discuss with them a new framework for unions working within the academy then feeding back the members' opinions.
“I have also liaised with Voice and passed on information at a meeting with members regarding proposed strike action by other unions.
"Part of my role is about helping people feel secure in their job and reassuring them.
"I'm not an aggressive person and I like how Voice works in a professional, non-militant way. School have also been helpful and have made it easy for me to operate within the school setting, especially recently as we have just become an academy.
"I am now looking forward to developing my role further by taking part in training that Voice has to offer.
"Being a Voice Rep is all about helping colleagues feel informed and, as a result, creating a calm secure environment to work in."
Find out more about Voice Volunteers.