For volunteers in skilled roles such as coaches, it can also help them to develop within a role, identify where their volunteering can take them and where they’d like to go next.
Volunteers in club management roles will also benefit from support that will help them to develop the club.
Peer support can take different forms:
- A buddy scheme that pairs new volunteers with more experienced ones to help new volunteers settle in
- A formal mentoring scheme for coaches at your club
- A peer support scheme that pairs senior volunteers at your club with their peers in other clubs.
Tailoring your approach
As volunteers at your club may do very different roles and have different levels of experience, a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work. It may well be worth setting up a buddy scheme for all new volunteers as standard, but after this the needs of your volunteers may differ a lot according to their roles and the goals they have.
To set up a successful buddy scheme:
- Try to pair more experienced volunteers with less experienced ones
- Try to pair volunteers who do similar roles
- Give guidance on what the scheme is about for both mentors and mentees, and advise mentors on how to do their role
- If possible, introduce buddies to each other at a volunteer’s first session
- Ensure that buddies can contact your volunteer coordinator with any problems or concerns
- Set a time limit for people to be formally ‘buddied’ – it may be that they remain buddies in an informal sense afterwards, but the goal is to help induct your new volunteers to the club within an allotted timeframe, after which they shouldn’t feel dependent on their buddy.
More experienced volunteers can still benefit from peer support and mentoring. It may be that you can provide this within your club, or it may be that you need to connect them with people outside it.
Sometimes a volunteer in a club management position, such as your chair or treasurer, might benefit from peer or mentor support. It can be hard to provide support from within your club for this as there may be no-one with relevant experience. However, you could find out if their predecessor would be willing to help, or find out if people in equivalent roles at other local clubs would also welcome support, and if so set up a scheme across the clubs in your local area.
For coaches, Sports Coach UK offers specific guidance, resources and workshops that can help you plan and deliver a great mentoring programme.
For coaching and other sport-specific roles, take a look at your national governing body’s website as some offer specific resources and support.
Some Active Partnerships also run mentoring schemes, so it’s worth finding your local Active Partnership and getting in touch.
For people in club management positions, the Club Matters mentoring scheme will also be of help.
Peer-to-peer and mentoring support are common outside the world of sport. Take a look at this case study from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations showing how Voluntary Action Oldham set up such a scheme.