New quality assured volunteering awards scheme launches


By Faye Angus, VAST

Voluntary sector support charity VAST has launched a new Volunteering Quality Standards awards scheme to improve volunteering experiences for organisations and volunteers locally.

VAST Volunteering Quality Standards awards

With bronze, silver, and gold awards, the Volunteering Quality Standards sets benchmarks for working with volunteers providing a solid foundation on which to build a volunteering framework that is consistent, effective, and inclusive. 

VAST Volunteering is passionate about volunteering and champions the importance of working effectively with volunteers. These new awards will provide support to organisations and instil best practice across the local voluntary sector.

To ensure that the awards are as industry-led as possible, they have been developed by VAST Volunteering in consultation with local volunteers and the Stoke-on-Trent Volunteer Managers Network. The scheme doesn’t just award good practices, the VAST Volunteering team actively works with staff, trustees, and volunteer managers to reach their desired award, create a positive and encouraging environment for volunteers to thrive, and to develop an effective action plan based on achievable targets and clear priorities.

The Volunteering Quality Standards Awards is free to access for organisations in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. The guidance includes a host of templates for organisations to utilise to ensure they have clear and effective policies, procedures, and processes in place to recruit, train, and retain their valuable volunteers.

Sian Osborn, VAST Projects Officer said: “We’ve worked hard to get the Volunteering Quality Standards right, to make sure they’re as industry-led as possible. The best way to do that was to consult local volunteers and volunteer managers. By finding out what they think good volunteer management practices look like, we’ve been able to develop a set of standards that are realistic and achievable for voluntary sector organisations of all sizes. We don’t just look at an organisation and tell them what they can achieve, we find out what they want to achieve and why. We guide them through each stage of the assessment and actively work with them to create an action plan that is realistic and achievable.”

Natalie Hawkins, Support and Volunteering Projects Manager, said: “We’re thrilled to launch our new Volunteering Quality Standards awards. It will really help the local voluntary sector to create a supportive environment where volunteers can enjoy their placements and thrive, all while giving back to their community. For organisations, the awards will help them to develop and improve their practices around volunteering, while gaining an achievement to showcase all their hard work. The scheme provides a catalyst for voluntary sector groups in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire to review their own practices and improve the processes for them to be able to recruit, support, and manage their valuable volunteers.”

To get the scheme off the ground, VAST worked with local domestic abuse charity Glow. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Glow provides vital support to women, men, and children across Staffordshire who have been impacted by domestic abuse. Last year the charity relaunched their volunteer programme which supports people – including those with lived experience – to become domestic abuse volunteers.

GLOW receives their Gold Award

Upon receiving the Gold award for volunteering, Sarah Heath, who leads Glow’s volunteer programme said: “To be recognised as gold standard is just incredible. It feels really special because we all work so hard every single day – including our volunteers – to make sure we’re providing the best volunteering offer possible. This kind of scheme can typically be quite expensive which is unrealistic for many organisations, especially small charities. The fact that VAST have launched this locally, free of charge, is just brilliant. It will have such an impact on organisations and individuals across the voluntary sector.”

For more information on VAST’s Volunteering Quality Standards, please email

Website: VAST

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