Inclusively recruiting volunteers

In this case study, discover how Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is involving more people in volunteering by changing up their application processes.

By Joseph Sellors, Tourism and Destination Development Manager at HES

What volunteer roles to you recruit for?

Previously, I worked as a Monument Manager at Dumbarton Castle, where I helped to develop the volunteer programme. The site now has a regular team of 12 volunteers who undertake many different tasks, and also welcomes event volunteers for one-off volunteering opportunities like community archaeological digs or carrying out conservation tasks.

Why does your organisation involve volunteers?

HES involve volunteers to increase community engagement and look after our sites. People giving their time through volunteering plays a crucial role in preserving the heritage that is all around us. We are also an Investing in Volunteers accredited organisation and we are committed to offering a programme that matches a range of motivations, helping volunteers to learn new skills, meet new people, gain confidence or simply have fun.

How does your organisation remove barriers to volunteering?

In 2019 and 2020, we reviewed our recruitment processes to make them more inclusive and easy to engage with. We wanted to establish a more relationship-based experience, so we stopped asking for lengthy application forms. Now, we offer “taster sessions” to interested individuals, where they can come along, meet the team, have a site tour and try out activities. This is then followed by a relaxed interview where we discuss the role and any adjustments that can be made to ensure their full and active participation. People are encouraged to bring along a friend, family member or companion if that makes them feel more comfortable. We also stopped asking for references, as these can be difficult for people experiencing social isolation or who may be new to Scotland. We also reimburse the cost of a basic disclosure to ensure that our volunteers are not out of pocket.

What impact have volunteers made at your organisation?

Throughout 2019 and 2020, HES engaged 999 volunteers who contributed the equivalent of 1,682 days of their time to support the organisation. Each volunteer also brings their own unique skills, interests and knowledge to the role, enriching our organisation and the heritage that we look after and share with visitors.

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