It is common known that “voluntary organisations work for the benefit of the community, not to make a profit or to meet any statutory obligation. They do this by acting as advocates and delivering services. They often involve sections of society whose needs are not met by the private or public sector. Most voluntary organisations are working to promote equality of opportunity in some way”
(National Council for voluntary Organisations, 1990, p: 1)
“Voluntary ought to mean simply some activity or undertaking, offered in an open and generous spirit and given freely without any hint of coercion”
(Heginbothman, 1990, p: 3)
One such voluntary organisation is the Barkhill House. It is a charity that aims to help the frail elderly of Newtown and make their lives better as much as possible while remaining in their own homes. The Barkhill house Day care centre Club started in 1980 and today continues to be successful by the fact that the number of elderly that applies for membership is continually increasing.
How the idea of this voluntary agency came up?
In 1980, Newtown’s welfare committee decided that they wanted to do something for the old people instead of the lunch clubs and old people’s clubs in the town so the idea of some form of day centre came up. Money came from social services and funded the two part time organisers in the North and the South of the town.
What the club actually do?
This club has a programme of therapeutic activities such as dominoes, bingo, and movement to music, quiz shows, arts and crafts, and sing-along. Computers and parties contribute to the members’ stimulation of interest.
The fitter elderly can enjoy facilities such as indoor bowling, tea dances, woodwork; keep fit, dressmaking and an art class because in addition to the main purpose to help the frail elderly they must use the space within the centre. For the members of the club counselling assistance is also provided. In order all the elderly to be satisfied, they are being organised different sessions for the disabled and the more able in terms of physical condition. This happens because the disabled can not do some of the activities that the more able do. They are organised for them a lot of different activities on another day.
The Problems that Barkhill house faces:
It must be taken into serious consideration that despite the fact that Barkhill house has been successful in its target, it also faces many problems.
> The Barkhill house it needs money to cover the expenses that come out.
> First of all, the elderly who are members are too many and the small number of staff find difficulties in taking care all of them, and that is why there weekly time of attendance has been reduced.
> Furthermore, there are other elderly who are in the waiting list to join the club.
> There are only three full time care assistants who are not enough for the number of members that join the club each day. There is only one occupational therapist helper and a care assistant who was a playground leader. Furthermore, there are two drivers but they are driver-care assistants because they provide extra assistance for the disabled members during the day. They make use of volunteers and have had students from colleges on placements.
As it mentioned before, the number of people who volunteer in the club, is not enough for the huge amount of work that needs to be fulfilled. Committee tried to encourage people to come to the club as volunteers but it did not get enough response. They contacted all the churches in order to try recruitment and it also made efforts through advertisement, but the response was not acceptable.
Some who came as volunteers find the work that is being done quite difficult. Although it is said that volunteers do not the responsible to take one person to the toilet or to wash someone down they couldn’t guarantee that this is will not happen. If it happens something emergency or an accident they might ask to volunteers for help. Some who came as volunteers find the work that is being done quite difficult, and that it does not suits them, so they quit. The volunteers that remain are not too many and even these they attend the club only one or two days per week.
In addition they may not be trained properly and fact that they are not paid makes it more difficult for them to come in the club.
It did not ask cares of the centres users to volunteer, because for careers who use the service it’s a relief to have their relative as an opportunity for getting out or for going shopping so its unrealistic to ask a carer to come in as a volunteer.
What about training if volunteers?
However, both staff and the volunteers need training for offering their services. The training that is being done is not enough and the fact that both staff and volunteers are combined to do a training programme is not right, as the responsibilities of the volunteers are not exactly the same with the staff responsibilities.
Furthermore, efforts for the use of employment training proved to be unsuccessful, as the employment trainees were unreliable and lasted only for a small period of time.
More specific volunteers and staff have been combined to do a training programme. Because of the small number of staff, there wasn’t enough time to took a group away for training.
Some trainees lasted only 2 days. Only one girl was successful and now she employed in the day care team.
These are the serious problems that the club faces. Despite the fact that it is good natured, it must look seriously at the future.
Suggestions for Possible Solutions:
Having these problems in mind, the chairperson of the management committee has called a meeting last week, in order the committee to address the extent of the problems and make suggestions for possible solutions. The members of the committee discussed topics that were about the number of club members, the staff, the training, the volunteers, ways of funding and finally, a possible extension of the club.
The chairperson of the management committee suggested ways of finding sufficient resources of funding. The day centre manager suggested ways of more effective training.
As a volunteer representative, one of the first individuals who attained Barkhill house as volunteers and member of the management committee, I also took part in the meeting. I was there in an advisory position. Because I am a volunteer in a club and a volunteer representative I was asked to make suggestions about ways of attractive volunteers in the Barlhill house, the tasks that these volunteers can do and ways how volunteering can be more successful and more effective.
First of all, it was given emphasis on the significant help that volunteers can offer. They act with their own free will and without payment (other than out of pocket expenses) and they offer for the benefit of the community, other than family and friends. They provide something different from, and additional to, the services of the professional. Volunteers offer to the client the “natural and warm relationship” which gives a feeling of “normality” and of “commitment” that few social workers have the time to impact”(Holme & Maizels, 1978, p:103)
Additionally “Volunteers can save the time of qualified staff by relieving them of duties which do not require professional skill or knowledge”. (Aves, 1970.p:86).
The most important is that they can establish “unofficial relationships” with the clients, and bring friendship to them when they need it.
Furthermore, it was given attention to recruitment and I have suggested ways of motivating people to become volunteers in Barkhill house.
> Local schools can leaflet the area of volunteers.
> The members of the committee may try convening smaller groups of volunteers in individuals’ homes.
The process model could be followed. Through this model, the committee can give future volunteers “life situations, what are the initial biographical needs of this population, how are these needs are offered by the work setting and in what respects are needs and rewards most closely matched. (Darvill, 1985 p;15)
Volunteers must be motivated to volunteer “because the club can readily satisfy certain of their needs, by providing opportunities for achievement, some status, some personal growth, and reciprocal relationships. (Darvill, 1985, p: 21)
> Retired people may feel their hours by volunteering and with this way they can keep their flag flying.
> If people are new to the area or they have come to the area quite recently, volunteering will help them to socialise, meet other people and make new relationships.
> Young people can gain experience which may help them in their future employment, especially if this employment is related to the work that they will do as volunteers in the club.
> People who feel deprive and lonely can be motivated to join the club by volunteering. Through this movement they will come in contact with other people and they will feel better. They will be able enjoy the sense that they are useful, that they can offer.
> Some people can be motivated by the fact that someone in their family suffered or was in similar position as the frail elderly. So they will understand the situation of the elderly more than anyone else and they will be more willing and able to help them.
> The committee can pass the message that elderly people are humans who need support and help and if someone volunteers to offer help, he or she will experience the giving of beneficence and he/she will also get satisfaction and happiness from seeing other people happy.
What volunteers can do if they come to the club?
After suggesting ways in order to motivate people to volunteer in Barkhill house, I was asked to make some recommendations what these people can do if they come to the club.
The range of activities that volunteers can do can include: “Check up visits to the more vulnerable elderly people, providing stimulation and moral support, small scale rehabilitative activities, providing meals and encouraging the old person eat, and boarding our clients in their own houses for short periods”. (Hatch, 1983, p: 144)
Volunteers can help the members of the club to their seats, give to them a cup of coffee or tea, or wash up coffee/tea cups. They can also chat to members join in a game of dominoes, bingo, etc. or to help then with making a collage and serving the launch.
Furthermore volunteers can organise celebrations for special events as Christmas. They can help for the decoration of the club with Christmas trees etc. If one of the members has his/her birthday, can also be organised party for her or him. Plans may be to meet up members outside of the club during the week or to take members to their homes for few days. Some volunteers can give cookery, art demonstrations. Some others also can act as drivers and take the old people back to their homes.
The dependent elderly do not look to the future, but they feel better and happy if at the present, there is someone who is interested and looks after their well being.
What measures should be taken in order the volunteers work to be more effective?
To continue with, it emphasised to the committee the fact that some measures need to be taken in order the volunteers work to be more effective.
It is a good idea for the committee to encourage volunteers to come into contact with volunteers from other organisations outside the Barkhill house. This movement will enable them to exchange opinions, something that might help them in work.
Furthermore, the committee must be able to give volunteers consultation and advice and reward them for their activities. This will increase volunteers self esteem and make them work with more pleasure and effectiveness. Qualified persons such as organisers “will have to give time and thought to the volunteers and their needs, and this responsibility must be recognised and allowed for” (Aves, 1970, p: 87)
Additionally, volunteers must be equal between them in order some possible disincentives to volunteering not to be appeared. The share responsibilities encourage both reciprocal “Insurance” type relationships and personal relations to be developed. The development of good relationships and co-operation are obvious in Barkhill house and it suggested that this is something the committee must try to preserve. The reason is that co-operation brings positive results.
A distinction between volunteer’s tasks and staffs, task must be made. The first can do some of the staffs work, but not all of it, as staff has some responsibilities and things to do that need more that need more professionalism and experience, something the volunteers do not have and can not do. That is why the training sessions for both staff and volunteers must be different.
Volunteers need training not only the staff. They have to be trained in a more regular basis for example evening classes. They must learn more for matters such as first aids, fire procedures, counselling and supporting psychologically the members and improving lifting techniques.
In terms of training, it also suggested that local authorities shall see the lack of qualified training as an opportunity for improvement and help in financing the training of volunteers or in promoting sensitive volunteers who have some qualifications that might be useful to the club.
Power and ethics:
In suggesting those solutions, I have considered the voluntary ethic. That ethic emphasises good outcomes and is concerned with social result. “It does not have to be as it is not coerced or required either through social attitude or legislation. But it is necessary and important as it is an impulse to do well. The voluntary ethic is very important in this case as it will enable the finding of resources to undertake some of the work that it is needed for the improvement of Barkhill House situation. ) (Heginbotham C. 1990).
Although volunteers can not be enforced to offer their services, they can be motivated through the right way to do this, as their help will surely be proved as very helpful for the future of Barkhill house.
As volunteer representative I considered the normative power which is based on a system of shared goals. The volunteers must be share the same value of work to success. In Barkhill House, power belongs to all the people who are involved in it in some way.
Normative power is the power which rests on the beliefs of the members that the organization has a right to govern their behaviour. (Etzioni A. 1964)
Despite the fact that these suggestions have made, I was aware of the fact that as a volunteer representative, I can’t make changes alone by myself, as I do not have the appropriate power. As a volunteer I can take the responsibility to make some leaflets and give them around or try to convince people become volunteers in individuals’ homes, but it would be more effective if other volunteers could do the same.
Additionally, if I have not others support it is impossible to make changes alone, as I in order people to be convinced they need to see more efforts being made for this purpose.
I cannot by myself take all the retired people or people who are new in the area, and bring them to the club.
Neither can I train volunteers or find sufficient money for their training only by myself. An effort from all is need in order this to be achieved. That is why my power is interpersonal.
Both the committee and the staff need to try together for achieving solutions, and even if, additionally local authorities come to support us, the results will be better and more effective. Volunteers as a whole have limited power to make changes. They need support both from local authorities, society and the other volunteers as they can not resolve problems by their own.
I must point out that in expressing my opinion to the rest of the committee; I was having in mind the eco-centric philosophy (Vaines 1990). I rejected the egocentric philosophy because it places the individual itself as central and the others ways of achieving individualistic ends. So I was base on eco-centric beliefs, as eco-centric position requires the involvement of all individuals in discovering “what is” as a means of addressing what should be. In the case of Barkhill house, improvements can be achieved by contribution of all the people.
Eco-centric philosophy searches for language, institutions and politics which are consistent with moral ends, and which are emerging in the case of Barkhill house. “Through language people can talk between them and make suggestions of addressing the problem. Mechanistic and technical language uses people and other resources to achieve benefits, and the assistance becomes empowering for both giver and receiver.
Through eco-centric philosophy, people see better the whole of what was, is, and should be related to beliefs, knowledge and action. They begin to see what is better of achieving a better future. They are co operating with each other; as such changes can be better achieved by co operation and not by an individualistic effort. Through co operation there is more safety about future development. People are united and act for the benefit of all, and not for an individualistic benefit. There are opinions and contribution for achieving improvement, become means of generating hope for an effective improvement. (Vaines, 1990)
It is obviously that eco-centric philosophy supports co-operation for the benefit of all. As it was stated above, in the Barkhill House, nothing can be effective enough, if there is no co-operation between all the people who are related to the club. If there is a common effort for the resolving the problems that are related to staff, volunteers, finance and so on, this effort will have a better result.
Based on this fact, the committee decided to promote a general effort in order to face the current problems, and only if this effort has some results, it will decide whether or not to expand Barkhill House.
Barkhill house is a voluntary organisation that offers to the community and it must not be neglected. We must have in mind that voluntary organisations are very useful in a social welfare. They can offer personal services to individuals directly, something that other groups of people may not be able to offer. For example they can offer residential care for special categories of people or financial help. Secondly they may provide “background services” for example information about training and local groups. Finally it is the social advocacy, which may change negative attitudes for achieving something good, or give counselling.
It is obviously that Barkhill house as a voluntary organisation has a lot to offer and it must not be left to be destroyed. That is why, after the end of the meeting, the committee decided that it is necessary to try promoting the achievement of the solutions that have been made to the meeting, for the sake of Barkhill House.
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