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Looking to the future of volunteering at the Stroke Association

The Stroke Association exists to support people to rebuild their lives after a stroke. We provide specialist support, fund critical research and campaign to make sure people affected by stroke get the very best care and support to rebuild their lives.

Volunteers play a vital role in a lot of our work, and we are fortunate to have loyal, committed volunteers in all parts of the UK who dedicate enormous amounts of time to our charity. Our 1,200 volunteers are delivering and supporting vital services for stroke survivors, raising awareness of stroke in communities and supporting our fundraising activities.

But we know we’re missing opportunities for volunteering to be doing even more for people affected by stroke. We also think there is more we can do to make our volunteers’ journey and experience even better.

So like many charities post-Covid, we have been taking a fundamental look at our approach to volunteering, going back to some of the most basic questions: why we involve volunteers in our work, how volunteers can be making an even bigger contribution towards our strategy, and what experience volunteers want to have with us.

This work has caused us to focus both internally at our organisation’s ways of working around volunteering, and externally at how we ensure volunteering for us is attractive and positively impactful for those giving their time.

From an internal perspective, it has caused us to really focus on how volunteering can connect meaningfully with our strategy and goals, and become an integral part of our planning – rather than an afterthought or added extra – which would result in volunteers playing a more intrinsic role in our work.

From an external perspective, thanks to research we commissioned, we now have a clearer view of who is most likely to volunteer for us, what motivates them to volunteer and what might prevent them from volunteering, as well as insight on what is affecting the experience of our current volunteers. And for volunteering to be successful at ours or any organisation, it’s imperative to consider these perspective in tandem and ensure both are shaping the way volunteers are delivering and supporting our work.

However, what we must also recognise is the power of volunteering beyond our own organisation’s boundaries: with 100,000 people having a stroke every year and 1.3 million stroke survivors across the UK, the challenge of stroke is so great that the Stroke Association can’t do it alone. There is more we can do to help unleash the potential of volunteering in all its forms, in ways that contribute to the cause of stroke.

Our relationships with other charities in the Shaping the Future with Volunteering project have been of real benefit to us through this journey, and we look forward to growing these relationships further as we continue to navigate this work.

John McGlone, People Experience Lead, Stroke Association
8 September 2023