My top tips: Rachel Bayley, volunteering manager, Samaritans

Recruiting the right people, linking people with their communities and providing support are vital, says Rachel Bayley

Recruit well Getting the right people is very important. With volunteers, it's about looking in the right places and in a variety of places. When it looks as if something is not going to work out, try to find another option for the person, and learn, when appropriate, to say "no". When you do the best you can at the recruitment stage, the rest of your work will go well.

Act locally People want to make a difference in their communities, so we like to recruit locally. Our volunteers do a lot of outreach work with local groups, and we use local networks and word of mouth. We've got about 17,000 volunteers, so if each one talks to a small group we can reach a whole new set of people.

Listen carefully Spend that extra five minutes to find out what's really going on underneath the situation. Find out why that person is telling you what they're telling you. This saves you a lot of problems along the way.

Provide support We have a massive support structure for our volunteers. After they train, they are given a mentor for six months so they have one-to-one support. After each shift, volunteers have a debriefing session with a leader, who is also available during shifts for advice. Wherever volunteers are, there's a support system for them, and they also form social networks. It helps when people feel they are a part of something.

Delegate responsibility All our volunteers are managed by other volunteers, and I provide advice and support for people in key posts. It's really important to share responsibility and develop others.

Don't stop saying 'thank you' It really is the key to ensuring that every volunteer feels valued. It's very easy to make a fuss over someone when they are just starting out, but you have to make sure that the appreciation continues for as long as they volunteer.

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