I agree with the previous responses

It’s clear that the current situation cannot carry on as it is.

The volunteer coordinator needs arrange a meeting with the volunteer. Before the meeting the vol coordinator should gather concrete evidence to point to during the meeting and should have the role/task description to hand as well. If the volunter cannot carry out the tasks, then this needs to be addressed point by point in this meeting.

If extra training and support can be offered to get the volunteer up-to-speed, then great. But at the end of the day, if the volunteer is not suitable for the role, then it’s either time to find another role at the same organisation (one that’s useful for the org and is meaningful for the vol and meets their motivations for volunteering) – or – to find a role elsewhere and that’s where you and your services come in.

The volunteer coordinator can point the volunteer in your direction and you could book a one-to-one appointment with someone at your centre who is experienced to deal with this person sensitively and helpfully. Perhaps you could discuss some dates before their meeting takes place.

By giving the volunteer options at the end of the meeting, this will hopefully be a positive outcome for everyone involved.

(By the way, we have had to do this ourselves several times over the years.)

I have been in a similar position. I wonder if its socialising that she needs but doesn’t accept she needs, whether the blow may be softened if you could find a volunteering post somewhere where socialising is part of the role? Agree you have to be up-front about the current role not working so as not to be too manipulative, but finding something to go to often helps someone to ftill feel valued, which in another role she may well be. A good neighbours scheme, support group, day centre, hospice, hospital or similar? Maybe initially as an urgent fill-in role over the summer holidays? Perhaps by saying they are desperate for a volunteer with her skills and personality? Some (not all!) roles like that can have wavy lines around who is the volunteer and who is the recipient…worth a shot?!

Almost exactly this same scenario came up in a life-changing workshop I attended, lead by Mary Merrill, some time in the late 1990s. The workshop was on volunteer management ethics. And this scenario just really got to me and I’ve never forgotten it – and here it is again on UKVPMs, almost verbatim. And what I’m sorry to say is that no one in the workshop, including Mary, could come up with exactly the right answer. Tears were shed. It’s a tough, tough situation.

Could you find her a volunteer placement elsewhere, at another organization? Are there non-essential volunteering activities at other organizations that she could do? For instance, is there a community theater that could involve her to hand out programs before a performance? Could she help serve refreshments – just putting cups filled with a liquid, not doing any of the filling of the cups herself – at some community event that involves volunteers?

Is there an organization in your community that helps people with diminishing mental capacities that you could introduce her to, that could give her meaningful activities to engage in – like going to community events in a group? Does she sing – and is there a community she could get involved with? Does she attend events by a community of faith, and could that community be called on to help in this situation?

What I’m getting at is that, you are probably going to have to let this volunteer go, but is there a way to help her not just leave your organization, but go to another, either as a volunteer or as a participant in their program?