I have received the appeal below from one of the groups I support. I have suggested looking at alternative roles, possibly home-based, but wondered if you other experts out there may be able to come up with another suggestion.
“I don’t have a problem dealing with most everything to do with volunteers and volunteering but I have a really difficult problem exiting a very valued volunteer who is no longer capable of ANY volunteer tasks, but still insists in coming in, causing chaos and leaving. I have managed to get her to reduce her hours but we are getting to the point where staff feel really concerned that her failing health and inability to cope and remember things is detrimental to the running of our admin where she volunteers.
I have no wish to offend, or upset this volunteer who has been faithful to the organization for many years, but I cannot find a solution to fit the bill.
Any help or suggestions would be most welcome.”
I know it can be a very delicate matter, but we have to maintain a focus on what the purpose of the organization is.
And it is unlikely to have been set up for the benefit of its volunteers.
At the end of the day we recruit volunteers for a reason, and that is to benefit the organization and its service users. If ongoing supervision is taking place then this would provide a venue to discuss issues around workload and ability. If that’s not in place then it might be worth getting someone she trusts within the organization to discuss the issues. Is she aware of the situation? Is she aware of her apparent memory problems? If so what sort of support it she getting? The discussion would also give the opportunity to explore the reasons why the volunteer “insists” on coming in.
EG. Does the volunteering provide socialization that she doesn’t get elsewhere? If so can she be signposted to organizations where she could access social clubs, etc?
If she wants to keep busy and feel like she’s making a difference then is there some other volunteering she could do with another organization?
Could she become a “Friend of…”? Able to attend any social events, fundraising activities, ,maybe even internal training events, so that she still feels part of the organization? That way you can continue to acknowledge her contribution to the organization without her continuing to volunteer?
The organization needs to raise the issue with the volunteer as soon as possible to avoid any further frustration from paid staff and other volunteers, as this can potentially develop into ill-will towards the volunteer herself and the organization for not dealing with the situation.
Its a very difficult situation, and there is no easy way to deal with it, but it needs to be dealt with compassionately, but with conviction that her current role is no longer suitable.