Volunteer at Fleadhfest: What You Need To Know
Fleadhfest aims to ensure that the experience of all involved in the events in Sligo will be enjoyable, positive and rewarding.
Our objectives for Fleadhfest are:
- To promote all aspects of traditional Irish music, song and dance with an emphasis on the Irish language
- To provide a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors to County Sligo during the Fleadh
- To showcase County Sligo’s unique heritage, landscape, traditional culture, crafts and fine food
- To ensure that Fleadhfest is a family friendly event with the safest possible environment for all in relation to Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.
- To create awareness of environmental sustainability amongst residents and visitors through the Greener Festivals programme
- To harness the generous community spirit of County Sligo in a broad ranging volunteer programme promoting local ownership and involvement
- To foster inclusiveness by reaching out to other communities and cultures in Ireland through a series of projects designed to enhance mutual understanding
- To produce a legacy that makes County Sligo the preferred visitor destination in the West and establishes Sligo as the leading centre for traditional music within a thriving arts scene
The work of Fleadhfest could not be achieved without the involvement of a wide variety of volunteers. We regard volunteers as a valuable resource and encourage them to get involved in as many activities of Fleadhfest as possible. We aim to train, support and lead our volunteers to the best of our abilities, and to act quickly and fairly if difficulties arise.
1. VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES
1.1 Purpose of document
The purpose of this draft is to provide guidance on all aspects of volunteering in Fleadhfest. It does not constitute a binding contract. It supplements other Fleadhfest policies and procedures, as well as our definition of volunteering, our mission statement and our value base.
These procedures apply to all volunteers who undertake tasks on behalf and at the direction of Fleadhfest.
The Fleadhfest Chairperson is responsible for ensuring that the policy and the procedures in this document are implemented efficiently and effectively. All other staff and volunteers (including voluntary management committee members) are expected to facilitate this process.
The Fleadhfest will consider involving anyone as a volunteer. Individuals will, however, be able to demonstrate a commitment to the aims of Fleadhfest and may only be placed with Fleadhfest if their needs as volunteers match the needs of Fleadhfest. No person who has a conflict of interest with Fleadhfest will be accepted as a volunteer.
1.4 Relationship with paid staff
Volunteers are appointed to enhance the capacity of paid staff (including Community Employment workers), not as a substitute for them. Conversely, Fleadhfest does not accept the services of its paid staff as volunteers. Clear roles are established to differentiate between paid staff and volunteers to foster mutually beneficial and complementary relationships.
1.5 Working conditions
Volunteers are treated as full members of Fleadhfest team. They are treated as equally and fairly as paid staff and are included in its functions and decision-making processes wherever practical. Volunteers are provided with appropriate work sites and have access to the space, equipment and facilities necessary to volunteer effectively and comfortably.
1.6 Working times
Working times are negotiated between the Fleadhfest Chairperson and the volunteer and are as flexible as the tasks allow. Voluntary time commitment is never expected to match that of full-time paid staff, but unscheduled absences can create problems. When expecting to be absent, volunteers should inform their Team Leader as soon as possible, so that alternative arrangements can be made.
1.7 Appropriate behaviour
Volunteers are expected to work within the policies and procedures of Fleadhfest and adhere to its ethos. As representatives of Fleadhfest they are responsible for presenting a positive image of Fleadhfest to the outside world.
1.8 Representation of Fleadhfest
Volunteers will seek prior approval from the Fleadhfest Volunteer Recruitment Committee before undertaking anything that might affect Fleadhfest. This includes, but is not limited to, statements to the press, joint initiatives with other bodies, and agreements involving contractual or financial obligations.
Fleadhfest respects the volunteer’s right to privacy and confidentiality. In turn, volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all privileged information to which they are exposed while volunteering with Fleadhfest.
A system of records is maintained on all volunteers, including dates and times of service, duties performed, evaluation of work, etc. Volunteer records are accorded the same confidentiality as staff records.
1.11 Service at the discretion of Fleadhfest
Any voluntary service is at the discretion of Fleadhfest. Fleadhfest may, at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate volunteer’s relationships with Fleadhfest. Similarly, volunteers may at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate their relationships with Fleadhfest. Notice of such decisions should be communicated at the earliest opportunity, preferably in writing.
2. VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
2.1 Role descriptions and person specifications
Like paid staff, volunteers require a clear and accurate description of the tasks and responsibilities they are expected to undertake. Prior to any volunteer assignment or recruitment effort, a role description will be developed for each voluntary opportunity. This will include a title of the volunteering role, starting and finishing dates, hours and place of work, name of Team Leader/mentor and tasks to be undertaken. If appropriate, a brief person specification may also be drawn up. The role description may be amended in joint agreement with the volunteer and Fleadhfest Manager/Chairperson. A copy of the final version will be given to the volunteer before commencing voluntary work, as it will be used in supervision and evaluation sessions. Role descriptions will define a time limit (no longer than one year) for voluntary involvement, after which time they are reviewed, and updated if appropriate.
Volunteers are recruited on a pro-active basis by using publicity avenues (including Sligo Volunteer Centre) that are suitable for the roles that need to be filled. Volunteers are recruited in accordance with the Fleadhfest equal opportunities policy. All volunteers are required to complete an application form.
If necessary, applications are short listed and suitable candidates are invited to attend an informal chat with the Fleadhfest Volunteer Recruitment Committee representatives to ascertain their interest in and suitability for the role. Written records of all interviews are kept. All unsuccessful candidates are thanked for applying and encouraged to reapply for other volunteering opportunities, either current or in the future.
2.4 Checks for suitability
Volunteering with Fleadhfest could potentially bring volunteers in contact with children & vulnerable adults and as a result all volunteers who have such contact as a result of their role are required to go through the Garda Vetting process prior to beginning as a volunteer in the Fleadhfest organisation. Fleadhfest guarantee confidentiality through this process in line with our Confidentiality Policy. Any disclosures that come to light in this process will not necessarily exclude the applicant. All cases will be considered on an individual basis.
References may be taken up if required. If the role requires it, health checks (mental and physical) are also undertaken. Other checks may also be completed (for example, ascertaining professional qualifications). Volunteers are always warned in advance of the intention to make these checks. If they refuse permission and cannot provide an acceptable reason, they will not be placed.
Formal appointments are made only after the role description has been agreed and all necessary checks have proved acceptable. No placements are made unless the requirements of the volunteer and the volunteer’s Team Leader can be met.
3. VOLUNTEER TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT
All volunteers receive induction before they begin voluntary work with Fleadhfest. This consists of a general introduction to Fleadhfest as well as a specific orientation on the purposes and requirements of their volunteering role.
3.2 In-the role – training
Volunteers receive initial and ongoing in-the-role training to provide them with the information and skills necessary to perform their tasks well. The training will be appropriate for the demands of the position and the capabilities of the volunteer.
4. VOLUNTEER SUPERVISION & EVALUATION
4.1 Lines of communication
Lines of communication should operate in both directions and should exist formally and informally. Volunteers will have access to all appropriate information, memos, materials and meetings relevant to their assignments. Volunteers will be consulted on all decisions that would substantially affect their volunteering conditions.
4.2 Team Leaders
Each volunteer will have a clearly identified Team Leader who is responsible for the management of that volunteer in their specific task.
4.3 Supervision sessions
Where appropriate Volunteers may receive appraisals of their work, based on their role descriptions. These may review the performance of the volunteer, suggest any changes in work style, seek suggestions from the volunteer on means of enhancing the volunteer’s relationship with Fleadhfest, convey appreciation to the volunteer and ascertain the continued interest of the volunteer in serving in his or her role. Such sessions also serve as an opportunity to plan future tasks.
4.4 Corrective Action
If appropriate, corrective action may be taken following evaluation sessions. Examples include of training for an identified training need, the reassignment of a volunteer, or the dismissal of a volunteer.
Volunteers who do not adhere to rules or who fail to perform their volunteer assignments satisfactorily may be subject to dismissal. No volunteer’s involvement will be terminated in writing until the volunteer has had an opportunity to discuss the reasons for possible dismissal with their Team Leader. Grounds for dismissal include, but are not limited to, the following: gross misconduct, being under the influence of drugs (including alcohol), theft, misuse of equipment and materials, abuse of clients and co-workers, breaches of confidentiality, failure to abide by Fleadhfest policies and procedures and failure to complete duties to a satisfactory standard.
4.6 Concerns and grievances
If volunteers are not satisfied that issues relating to their volunteering are being handled appropriately, they are entitled to have their concerns reviewed by the management committee. The management committee will discuss the issue as soon as practical after receiving a written complaint, and take appropriate action. The chair of the management committee makes the ultimate decision.
4.7 Exit Interviews
Where possible, informal exit interviews are held with any volunteers who are leaving, either because they have reached the end of their project, or are leaving for some other reason. Interviews are usually conducted with the volunteer’s ex-Team Leader and written records are kept. The session should ascertain why the volunteer is leaving, how they found the volunteering experience and what suggestions they offer to improve the way it operates. The offer of a personal reference for future employment etc. is made to each volunteer.
5. VOLUNTEER SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION
Fleadhfest endeavours to provide the support necessary to encourage and empower volunteers to make a meaningful contribution and gain significant benefits from their voluntary work. Support forms part of the regular supervision sessions and gives volunteers a safe setting in which to express themselves, let off steam and discuss how they feel about volunteering. The Fleadhfest Volunteer Recruitment Committee will always try to be available to volunteers who require support in other areas that are affecting their performance.
Volunteers provide a unique service to Fleadhfest, the benefits of which are difficult to quantify. It is essential that their efforts are recognised and rewarded. Fleadhfest staff are responsible for thanking all volunteers informally on a regular basis for the valuable contribution that they make to Fleadhfest. Volunteer Recruitment Committee is responsible for ensuring that more formalised recognition takes place at key times.
Volunteers give their time and skills free of charge, so it is essential that Fleadhfest offers to reimburse any out-of-pocket expenses they may incur in the course of undertaking voluntary work for Fleadhfest. The costs of volunteering should never be allowed to discourage those on low incomes. It is essential that prior written agreement signed by the Fleadhfest Chairperson regarding rates and procedures for claiming expenses are agreed by the management committee before such expenses are claimed.
Insurance is provided by Fleadhfest to cover all volunteers working on behalf and at the direction of Fleadhfest.
5.5 Personal and vocational development
Volunteers are encouraged to develop their skills while involved with and are assisted into assuming additional and greater responsibilities over time, if they desire this.
6. POLICY MONITORING AND EVALUATION
6.1 Fleadhfest volunteer involvement
Fleadhfest monitors and evaluates volunteer involvement in on a regular basis and seeks to make ongoing improvements.
Constructive feedback on this document is always welcome. It will be given to the Fleadhfest Volunteer Recruitment Committee who will ensure that it is considered fully.
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