As part of Volunteers' Week 2018, today we look at the importance of parents in athletics volunteering and focus on a club in West Wales that does this particularly well.
Pembrokeshire Harriers has always placed a priority on the role of parents as volunteers and hugely value the contribution they make to the makings of a successful track and field club.
Jo Salmon, who has been with the club for 11 years has carried out a number of roles in Pembrokeshire Harriers over the years and is currently boys team manager and treasurer. We caught up with Jo and asked her about volunteering as a parent and how to get it right!
What creates the right environment for successful volunteering recruitment in a club?
"In the first instance, it has to be right for the children. We have to get that right on and off the track by making sure that the coaching and club environment is a happy one for the children and they enjoy it, and want to come back for more. After all, happy kids means happy parents. This is vital.
Is there a vital ingredient in the club that makes parents want to volunteer their services?
I think it's all about making it friendly, approachable and enjoyable for parents as well as athletes. If you can retain the athlete over the years, you get the commitment from the parents.
The other thing is making sure there is someone in the club who's role it is to speak to parents, as Athletics can be quite daunting at first as you try to navigate yourself through the terminology and familiarise yourself with Louise Arthur, YDL and even Gerald Codd! Having someone on hand who's naturally friendly and approachable to engage with parents is a massive first step to getting people to come forward to help. In Pembrokeshire, it seems this works and people eventually ask us what they can do to help - I think some even feel awkward if they are not helping in some way, and this makes it easier for us all.
Who do you tend to target amongst parents to recruit as potential volunteers?
One of the best ways to enhance your volunteer resource is to target newcomers and set the scene early on so that they know from the beginning that we need help and also, by helping you'll enjoy socialising with other parents too. This is what we do and I think it works well.
How do you reward parents for their commitment to volunteering in the club?
This year, we're even holding an event for parents and athletes, a kind of fund day as a reward for everyone's help throughout the season. I'm not sure if this is a reward or a punishment as one of the things we may be considering is a wife or partner carrying race!
And the last word?
Let's not forget, that parents commitment getting their children to training, competitions, buying their kit, washing their kit, putting up with the lows as well as the highs and everything else they do is massive and often unseen. We recognise this and know that without parents commitment, we will not have a sport. So we need to focus on parents, reward them, look after their kids, make sure they are happy and then the volunteering will look after itself".
To find out how to get involved or how to get more involved in athletics volunteering visit the volunteer section of the website or to get involved in club volunteering, find an opportunitiy at your local club via the clubs page.
To find out more on Pembrokshire Harriers, please visit the club website at: https://www.pembrokeshireharriers.org.uk/