Recruiting and supporting volunteers
YAC clubs are run by supportive teams of people with a wide range of skills and expertise. They are a great environment in which volunteers can develop team working, communication, organisation and facilitation skills while pursuing their interest in archaeology. As a YAC volunteer, you learn how to manage groups of young people, how to communicate well with people with a wide range of ages and abilities, how to safely plan and deliver exciting learning experiences; you develop your understanding of learning styles and abilities, health and safety, child protection and, last but not least, archaeology!
Many YAC clubs find that word-of-mouth is the most effective way of recruiting new volunteers. Clubs often find volunteers among the parents of their members, through their colleagues, or at organisations that have helped the club (for example, at your regular venue or an archaeological organisation which invites you onto their excavations). Social media can be a valuable tool: use your own social media accounts to get the word out, and ask your contacts to pass the message on.
You might like to ask your local CBA group if any of their members might be interested in volunteering. You can find your nearest group by visiting http://www.archaeologyuk.org/cba/groups.
Use YAC’s leaflet and poster templates to create recruitment materials for new volunteers, which you can distribute at local museums, libraries, and volunteer centres. You might like to use the YAC Leader and Assistant role descriptions as a template. You could involve your members in designing the poster: who would make their perfect volunteer? If you do not have access to a printer, just get in touch with YAC HQ and we will print these for you.
Finally, the Council for British Archaeology has a large following among archaeologists, so let YAC HQ know if you need volunteers and we’ll get the word out!
It’s really important that you meet someone interested in volunteering before they get involved in a session, so that you can explain what’s involved in the application process and in being a volunteer, and so that you and they can find out whether you’ll be comfortable working together. Make sure that you explain clearly what they will be expected to do. It is just as important to understand what a new volunteer hopes to gain by volunteering with YAC. Talking to them about this early on might help you discover things that will benefit you both: for example, perhaps they are experts in early Medieval pottery, or they really love writing risk assessments! Keep having this conversation, even with your longstanding volunteers, to help make sure they and you are getting the most from the experience.
Following a meeting, if you and they are happy to go ahead then invite them to come along for one trial session, so that they can see if it’s for them, and you, your members and the rest of your team can see if they are for you. If you decide you are happy to welcome them to your team, then it’s vital to make sure they submit their application form to YAC HQ straight away so that we can process their references and criminal record disclosure. Please remember that they do not count towards your 1:8 adult:child ratio before this is complete.
When welcoming a new volunteer, it’s important to think through how you make sure that they understand their role. Check that they have seen and understand the Code of Conduct and the parameters of YAC’s insurance policy. Think about how you share risk assessments with your team to make sure that equipment is used safely and instructions given appropriately. How do you check that new volunteers understand the ethos of your Branch and of YAC?
When risk assessing your branch activities you may sometimes decide that particular activities are more risky than others and need a higher adult:child ratio than the minimum. You should consider the aptitude of new volunteers as part of this. You might, for example, discount a new volunteer from the adult:child ratio until you are confident of their abilities.
Supporting 16 and 17 year old Assistants in your team
While they can act as any other Assistant and count on the ‘adult’ side of YAC’s 1:8 minimum adult:child ratio, you and the other over 18s in your team have a duty to safeguard volunteers while they are under 18 years old. 16 and 17 year old volunteers are both protected by and must follow YAC’s Code of Conduct.
16 and 17 year old Assistants should be welcomed into your team in the same way as other new volunteers, but you should keep in mind that this type of activity is very likely to be new to them and therefore take extra care to make sure that they are comfortable and fully understand what is expected of them.
When contacting your volunteer team, you should include your 16 and 17 year old volunteers, sharing whatever contact details you share with the rest of the team for this purpose. No-one in your team should, however, use your 16-17 year old volunteers’ contact details for anything other than YAC business. Recruiting a 16-17 year old volunteer may also effect where you hold any team meetings. These should be done in a public place, for example at your usual venue or at a café, rather than at any of your team’s homes.
If you have any concerns or questions about working with young volunteers, then please contact YAC HQ in the usual manner.