Building resilience in volunteering

Building resilience in volunteering

03 Jan 2013 - By Brian Gibson

Building resilience in volunteering the merger process to create Volunteer Now. Dr Brendan Murtagh from Queens University was commissioned in May 2012 to undertake a reflective review and tell the story of the journey taken thus far by the 9 Volunteer Centres and the Volunteer Development Agency who succesfully merged to form Volunteer Now.

"The merger..... in 2010 was one of the most significant organisational changes in the third sector in Northern Ireland. It reflected the need to rescale and restrucutre service delivery in a sector that faced important challenges about funding, policy and best ways to increase participation and impact" B.Murtagh


Merger is not the only or always the best option for organisations but the experience of
volunteering highlights the need to work honestly and openly to help build a more resilient
sector. Ultimately the restructuring of volunteering aimed to make services better, improve
quality and put the needs of volunteers at the heart of organisational change.

On a personal note, putting the needs of volunteers at the heart of organisational change
was my constant companion on a challenging journey that was sometimes emotionally
difficult and testing, lengthy and quite often contentious and fractious. It was not an easy or
joyous leadership role for me as Chairperson of VSB, nor indeed was it for the other
Chairpersons, to call time on our respective organisations and to write into history many
years of great service to our community. Service freely and heroically given by countless
volunteers in very troubled times. I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to my fellow
Chairpersons and Board members who embarked on this unique merger journey.

It is good,therefore, having allowed some time to pass and when the raw emotions have subdued, to
take time to reflect on the achievements of the past and to contemplate the future.
It was in this context of reflection that we commissioned Dr. Brendan Murtagh from Queens
University in May 2012 to undertake an independent review for the Foundation and to
emphasise the contribution that it can make to debates about the future of the community
and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland. It is very much in that spirit that we have published his report and to highlight the implications for all of us who value the third sector in general and volunteering in particular.

I would urge you to read Brendan's report and would echo his final comments,

"As the sector changes, ethical practice, honesty and transparency will need to become more formalised if restructuring is not to descend into unregulated resource competition"

Brian Gibson

To download the report click Here


Visit the Volunteer Now website