Interview and Induction

The most useful and rewarding volunteering occurs when the job that needs doing is filled by someone who has the skills and temperament to do it well and to enjoy it.

Volunteer recruitment and retention takes time and energy, so it's important to try and get this match right, and an interview can help. This doesn't have to be too formal but allows you to make sure that the needs of both the food co-op and potential volunteer can be explored, and that the volunteer understands fully about the role and commitment required.

A trial period of perhaps three months is a good way of allowing the volunteer to have a taster of working with the co-op and also allows for a period of review at the end of three months when feedback from both sides can be given. If it isn't working out, you can part company on good terms. If both you and the volunteer are happy to continue, this can be a good point to offer training or other benefits.

Once you have selected a volunteer, how will you introduce them to the co-op and the people they will be working with?

A volunteer is much more likely to enjoy the experience if they feel welcome, know what they're supposed to be doing and are appreciated for the effort and time they've put in. From the food co-op's points of view, you need volunteers to fit in, feel confident about completing their task well, and to derive enough benefit, enjoyment and satisfaction that they keep coming back.

An informal induction to the organisation is a good way of making the volunteer feel comfortable and explaining how the organisation works. Some general induction points to consider are:

  • Explaining the main tasks involved in the role and how they need to be carried out
  • Introduction to other volunteers and any paid staff, including those who are based in the same venue but are not involved with the food co-op
  • Tour of the building, location of toilets, kitchen, where volunteers can safely leave their things
  • Who to contact in an emergency and if they have any problems
  • Information about breaks, and where they can go locally if they want to leave the building
  • How they can claim expenses
  • Explanation of the volunteer policy (if there is one) and a background to the organisation.

You can also use an induction checklist to record the areas that have been covered.

There may be certain duties and roles in your food co-op that require other specific training.

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The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

0203 5596 777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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