Third Sector Awards 2016: Volunteer Manager of the Year - Winner: Zoe Grant, Over the Wall

Zoe Grant
Zoe Grant

What does the charity do?

Over the Wall is a children’s charity that provides recreational camps to children with life-limiting illnesses and their families. The charity relies heavily on volunteers, especially those from medical professions, to run its camps and ensure each child's medical needs are met. Grant joined the charity as volunteer manager in April 2013.

What has she done?

Since joining the charity, Grant has increased the number of volunteers from 456 to 638 in 2015 – a rise of 40 per cent. She has achieved this by increasing the number of volunteering opportunities available for people with disabilities and ill health. In 2015, just under a third of OTW volunteers had diagnosed health conditions. The charity describes this as "a win-win" situation because it helps both volunteers, who often struggle to secure meaningful placements, and the children who attend its camps, because they are supported by people who have a genuine insight into living with disabilities. Grant was instrumental in helping the charity secure a £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund to develop this work beyond 2016.

She has also recruited teams of employee volunteers from companies including Hasbro and Asda. During her time at the charity, she has increased the number of corporate volunteers from just a handful to an average of 130 annually. The companies have also provided financial support.

What else has she achieved?

To ensure volunteers feel engaged all year, Grant has devised a communications plan for the volunteers, which includes a mix of fun polls and challenges that she shares through a dedicated Facebook page. She produces a volunteer e-newsletter, which is read by 75 per cent of recipients on average. She has introduced a number of personal touches to the volunteer experience, such as a pop-up café at its camps to serves tasty bakes and hot chocolate, rewarding the volunteers after long, hectic days.

Data gathered by the charity shows that 95 per cent of its volunteers gained in confidence and self-esteem, 97 per cent felt they had learned new skills and 93 per cent felt the experience would help them to secure future employment.

What did the judges say?

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy, partnerships and communications at the Lloyds Bank Foundation England and Wales, says: "Grant seems to combine a focus on developing strong and effective systems of volunteer management with a personal touch and care for individual volunteers. She also creates a real sense of purpose and fun."

Highly commended

Zoe Byrne, Princess Alice Hospice

Cecilie Cromar, Age UK


Eric Iyaremye, Grow Movement

Paul Vitty, Welcare

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