Supporting and supervising volunteers

Every volunteer needs support and supervision.

How much and how often will vary according to the role and the individual volunteer.

Make sure that your volunteers know:

  • Who to take any problems to
  • Who to talk to about their role and current tasks
  • Who to talk to about their skills and understanding

There are different ways to organise support and supervision:

  • Regular one to one meetings
  • Volunteers meet with a supervisor as a group
  • A peer support system where established volunteers act as a ‘buddy’ to newer volunteers
  • Via email or other online tools

You might hold supervision sessions more frequently for newer volunteers. As a minimum it’s a good idea for volunteers to receive formal support and supervision at least every two months.

Volunteering Kirklees can help you to think through different models of supervision, contact us to find out more.

Give and receive feedback

It’s a good idea to emphasise that support and supervision meetings are not about criticism or fault-finding. Give clear feedback, praise and reassurance.

Volunteers need to know that it’s a chance for them to talk about:

  • What’s gone well
  • What hasn’t
  • Other tasks they’d like to do
  • Any support or training needed

What’s the problem?

Encourage your volunteers to let you know about any problems as soon as they can.

Being positive about difficulties and sorting them out at an early stage is best for everyone. Try to approach it as a shared problem; agree what the difficulties are and what needs to be done to improve things.

It’s good to have a clear problem solving procedure in place in case issues cannot be resolved through supervision sessions. Have a look at the next Toolkit section for ideas on how to develop a suitable procedure .