Braintree BMX: creating a culture
Award-winning Braintree BMX encourage their members to lend a hand at the Essex-based club. Volunteer fundraiser Carol Redgewell tells us how they recruit and support their volunteers.
“Here at Braintree BMX Club, we think we have created a culture of volunteering. But we don’t recruit new volunteers, we encourage our members to get involved and help out. We find that this really helps new members feel part of the club.
What we do is very simple. We include all new members in all of our activities, including committee meetings. It’s really important to encourage our existing volunteers to mentor the less experienced members and encourage them to help out.
Volunteering as habit
From day one, new members are aware that the club is run by volunteers. It’s all part of making volunteering the norm.
Once it’s embedded in our younger members that volunteering is the natural thing to do, that is very hard to undo. Often these young people volunteer as a habit for life.
And it works. New members don’t hesitate to lend a hand or give up some time for the club. So if you make volunteering important to your members from the outset, it becomes just a normal part of club activities.
We sometimes put out an email asking for help with a specific task such as grass cutting or track maintenance – there is never a shortage of people willing to help out. Our members don’t see it as ‘volunteering’, simply as helping out at their club.
Work that goes on behind the scenes is vital for the smooth running of events.
Support your heroes
Your club is most likely run by volunteers too. As you know, it’s really important to make sure those who offer to help out are supported. We have a Volunteer Co-ordinator who is responsible for looking after our volunteers. At events, the co-ordinator makes sure our helpers are fed and watered throughout the day. This is essential because it gives our volunteers, especially the less experienced members, someone to contact if they have any problems.
Volunteers want to feel appreciated, so make sure their hard work doesn’t go unrecognised. Without helpers, sport clubs wouldn’t exist.
The other thing we are trying to do more often is celebrate our volunteers. After events we post a special thank you to everyone who helped out on our Facebook page. But you can do lots of different things, such as mention the new volunteers in your monthly email or give them an award at a presentation evening.
Join In’s Director of Sport Dave Moorcroft dropped by in 2014 to present thank you certificates to the volunteers.
Focus on the next generation
We put a large emphasis on training our volunteers. We offer training opportunities for any volunteers that need it to carry out their role, for example, first aider, welfare officer and coach.
This is great for our young volunteers. We really understand the importance of helping them develop their skills. To encourage them, we offer them the opportunity to partake in various Young Volunteer courses run by British Cycling ↑.
Braintree works with British Cycling to use Young Volunteer books to record jobs done and hours spent.
These courses are great for allowing youngsters to learn new skills to help our club as well as adding experience to their CV and UCAS applications. With young people it’s important to fit the role to their capabilities. We give the youngest volunteers simple tasks, such as delivering the results or handing out refreshments.
One of our young volunteers, Lana Redgewell, recently completed her British Cycling Level 2 coaching course. She has now gained valuable experience in becoming a volunteer coach at Braintree.
Remember to trust young people with responsibility. As a sporting community, we must work together to make volunteering exciting and relevant to young people.”
– If you need to recruit volunteers from outside your club, create a club page.