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To expect paid professionals to keep their appointments with volunteers

(14 Posts)
GadaboutGran Tue 14-May-13 11:07:11

I've trained as a volunteer member of a panel of Restorative Justice facilitators. Yesterday I wasted a good 3 hours going to town to meet a paid person to brief me on my first session. She didn't turn up & it's taken until this morning for her to bother to text me with an apology for the mix-up (no further explanation & a phone call would have been better). This has been compounded this morning by waiting (2 hours so far) for a pre-arranged phone call from another paid official about a seminar talk I'd volunteered to do. I try to be reasonable about people making mistakes but I think I may get angry for once. I'm remembering why I got fed up working with Local Authorities.

whenim64 Tue 14-May-13 11:15:55

You've every right to feel angry Gadabout. I used to train and coordinate probation volunteers and the emphasis for them was about being punctual, reliable and good at communication. Hypocritical, then, of the professional to let you down like that. A phone call could have saved you all that bother.

GadaboutGran Tue 14-May-13 11:48:45

Finally had the call I was expecting this morning with apology & no attempt to deny the fact that she forgot so I could accept that with good grace, less so the other one.
Whenim - I was one of the first probation service VAs in Bristol in 1970 - it's where my real education began & why I'm back to RJ volunteering now.

HildaW Tue 14-May-13 11:57:17

Gadabout - have found this attititude amongst some with connections to voluntary organisations. I think it depends how closely and regularly they work with volunteers. At a previous place the employee directly paid to organise the volunteers was a pure delight, her boss however was disorganised, patronising and tactless in her dealings with people. At a volunteers meeting that she was supposed to chair - we all arrived on time with notebooks etc, she was late and had not read the agenda or brought her diary. She twittered away along the lines of 'Oh silly me, you know what I'm like'..........honestly some of us felt like walking out. She was paid a lot, including car expenses etc etc!!

goldengirl Tue 14-May-13 12:23:15

I personally would mention your dissatisfaction otherwise it will continue. It could be said in a friendly positive way and if it is not taken in that spirit then so be it - you have a choice. You are not getting paid financially but you are giving up your time for FREE!

grannyactivist Tue 14-May-13 13:50:34

I agree with golden - but I probably would say it in an assertive, rather than a friendly way; as one professional to another. I would point out that her behaviour was unprofessional and that being a volunteer doesn't mean that your time is any less precious than hers. I feel quite angry on your behalf Gadabout and I for one am unhappy at paid professionals treating others (especially volunteers) as if their time, efforts etc. are not as meaningful. angry

nanaej Tue 14-May-13 14:02:25

I agree it is more professional to assert your opinion about the lack of punctuality.

LA staff currently are under huge pressure. I am not making excuses for this person but I know several LA employees who are struggling to keep services going following the swingeing cuts.

kittylester Tue 14-May-13 14:06:59

Quite GA.

Although we are all volunteers, our manager always refers to us as her 'team of workers' but that attitude doesn't always work it's way upwards and some of the more 'important' people in our organisation can be very dismissive of the volunteers.

We feel it's because, largely, we are 'of a certain age' and presumed to have time on our hands, what ever that might be confused

The public perception of volunteers is, thankfully, changing but I once looked after someone [quite successfully, I thought] all day at court and, as he was leaving, he thanked me and said that, if I hadn't told him so, he would never have believed that I was a middle-class do-gooder!! I still don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

glammanana Tue 14-May-13 15:47:37

Gadaboutgran I would have been very annoyed at waiting around for all that time it makes you question if you have the details wrong doesn't it ? where my DD and I volunteer at the week-end we have a strong regular customer base and they do complain that the managerial staff who run the Charity during the week do not give the customer service or time that they receive on a Saturday,we are also left out of invites to get togethers at Christmas etc and staff meetings.

whenim64 Tue 14-May-13 15:53:55

Gadabout I also started as a probation volunteer, and the way I was valued and included helped me decide on a probation career. If I had been treated like you were yesterday, I would have voted with my feet!

Stansgran Tue 14-May-13 18:09:29

I am going to a training day. It's from 10am until 4 pm with a lunch break. We are all unpaid although we do get a % discount at the cafe. The meeting is run by someone who gives us lollipops if we get answers right. It's meant to be jokey but I suspect its to be surreptitiously demeaning. I was amused 5 years ago but now I do wonder . Most of us have had a professional career or run a business and often quite sensible suggestions are dismissed because we do it this way. I can't say I will be racing to it eager and excited but we are obliged to go.

Eloethan Tue 14-May-13 18:27:27

gadabout I think it's appalling to keep you hanging around like that on two occasions, and then not to offer proper and timely apologies.

Some years ago I trained as a volunteer mediator for a victim/offender mediation programme. I attended several full weekends for training and had to go to regular training sessions afterwards.

My first experience of attending as a mediator, I stood waiting for my "co-ordinator" for about 45 minutes outside the house of the person we were going to see - and I didn't get much of an apology.

I can appreciate that people are often under pressure and overworked. However, it doesn't take that long to pick up the phone and apologise properly to someone - especially they are not being paid for their time and effort.

GadaboutGran Wed 15-May-13 10:58:34

Thanks for your responses. I have a history of being too nice & understanding thus denying my own irritations so I am pleased to say what you wrote helped me handle this in a different way so that the inconvenience to me was understood, good apologies (ie without excuses) being given before I showed my understanding for how they came to make mistakes. We are all human & can make mistakes but it's how they are handled that make such a difference ie honesty & apologies in person or by phone, not email/text. The only issue at the end was that one of the women kept saying how bad she felt about forgetting & I had to be careful not to feel bad about her feeling so bad.
What also helped was that the young woman I hadn't met before turned out to be a lovely person & we worked well together. It gave me pause for thought too that she was born the year I reached 20 years into my career!

grannyactivist Wed 15-May-13 11:23:32

Good outcome all round then Gadabout. grin