Picture of Ben Verpaalen (volunteer)

Lots of laughs and valuable experience on the two-way street of volunteering with us

It’s currently Volunteers’ Week and, as I reflect on the past year, I have a bit of a grin on my face – it’s been a funny year with some giggles, some hair-pulling and some stunning successes.

Normally I’d talk about what a vital resource the volunteers are to us and the valuable contribution they make to the variety of work we do here; about how this organisation benefits from their many skill-sets they bring to the table.

One of our amazing volunteers adds data to an interactive map (c) EIAimage

I’d also highlight the give-back from EIA to the volunteers in terms of exposure to the NGO arena and experience of working with such dedicated and respected people, the training we offer to help them move forward.

But this year I wanted to mention the anxious fun we had when it came to undergoing training in subjects we thought we new better than we did, the exasperating and frustrating periods trying to push forward in areas where we might be more effective – unbridled joy at new IT equipment and the first time you nervously touch the new laptop, the lows when people leave and highs with the arrival of new talent and personalities.

With this comes the desire to identify ways to make the volunteer team indispensable to EIA and, as always, with a positive attitude.

We don’t have a high turnover of volunteers here because most like to stay for longer periods of time – they recognise what they can give to and take from an organisation which is a clear leader in its field.

When they do move on, it’s usually for employment at another NGO. I’d like to say – in fact, I’ll go further and will say – that I know EIA has played its part in securing many job offers, which I think reflects very well on the relationship between us and our volunteers.

As a team, I think we continue to learn from each other and from the organisation – and both parties are all the stronger for it. Each year we evolve and I see no reason why this will change in the future.