As outlined in the umpires section, volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport. We want to attract, retain and create a positive experience for all volunteers in rowing, in order to support the growth of rowing as a healthy, inclusive and life enhancing sport; to encourage the recruitment of a larger, more diverse volunteer base and ensure role requirements and volunteer opportunities are clearly understood and communicated; provide better support, resources and training for volunteers; and ensure volunteers feel valued and recognised for the great work that they do.
Three work streams have been set up, made up of British Rowing Staff and volunteers from the Volunteer Workgroup. Ideas and solutions to explore for each workstream have been fed into an action plan.
From these work streams we will focus on creating the support, ongoing learning and recognition that make their lives easier as well as celebrating what they do.
We will help clubs with templates and guides on how to create clear role descriptions and ways of attracting new volunteers - from simply asking parents at the riverside, to finding a new head coach. We will utilise our connections with young people’s organisations to create opportunities for younger volunteers to become involved and help support others, and promote opportunities for people to visit their local club. Great British Rowing open weekends will encourage people to have a go at rowing, whilst at the same time speaking with parents and encouraging their involvement.
Using face-to-face opportunities and virtual platforms, we will create opportunities for volunteers to share experiences, best practice and peer-to-peer learning that will generate fresh ideas and new ways of doing things for the benefit of members. Supported by bespoke, general, or role-specific guides, we will help share knowledge delivered via a central volunteer hub across all area of the sport from clubs and schools to coastal and indoor. We will also continue to run webinars like the ones that were run in lockdown, to help volunteers get the most out of their roles and keep them updated on new opportunities available to them.
Alongside the soon to be re-established national awards programme, we will continue to celebrate the great work volunteers do at every level. Currently, we are working out how best we can recognise the great work that volunteers do on a more regular basis. Whilst we are not quite there yet, reward and recognition programmes are being explored, along with opportunities for clubs to highlight their local heroes, and for their stories to be told online - both on the British Rowing website and through local PR programmes. If you can think of simple ways we can just say thank you, please get in touch and let us know!
The sport is really run by volunteers: British Rowing is just here to facilitate what they do, and our involvement needs to enhance what could be done quite happily without us. At the same time, we ensure that everyone can get involved; that people are kept safe; and that disputes are settled. If we succeed in doing all that, we have happy volunteers; and happy volunteers stay in the sport and encourage others to join it.