Flexible volunteering online scheme opens for applications

Charities with objects concerning health and wellbeing can bid before the end of the month to use the self-service model

A sample of the Slivers-of-Time web technology
A sample of the Slivers-of-Time web technology

Charities have until the end of the month to apply to take part in a ‘flexi-volunteering project’ that allows participating charities’ service users to find and book volunteers online.

The three-year scheme, which received £376,750 from the Department of Health’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund, was launched in April. It is now open for a second wave of applications from not-for-profit organisations in England that have objectives related to health and wellbeing.

Organisations that became involved at the first stage include Mencap and Age UK.

The project is being overseen by the Fredericks Foundation, which provides business loans to people who are not able to access mainstream finance. It offers a flexible, self-service volunteering model by using the Slivers-of-Time system.

This website technology enables volunteers to state which hours they can volunteer and allows charities’ beneficiaries or their advocates to search and book approved volunteers from a general pool as and when they want them. There is no charge for charities to take part.

A version of the Slivers-of-Time system is set up within a participating charity’s website, using the charity’s style and branding.

"The Slivers-of-Time model offers a way for people to dip in and out," said Olivia Butterworth, head of communities and voluntary sector at the Department of Health. "Volunteers don’t have to commit to every Wednesday morning – they can do an hour here and an hour there."

She said the project linked well with the personalisation agenda, which allows people to choose different ways to access support. A beneficiary might choose to use part of their budget to go swimming, she explained, but would need someone to go with them – and that could be a volunteer.

Wingham Rowan, director of Slivers-of-Time Systems, said the benefits for a charity included the system’s detailed reporting, which enables it to easily show its activities and outcomes. By linking volunteers and service users, he said, the technology also cuts out the need for administration. Volunteers benefit from the opportunity to build up their experience at times that suit them and come away with a verifiable record of the work they have done.

Selection for the project will be based on the volume of bookings a charity will generate and its readiness to move to an online, self-service model. Charities wanting to bid to be part of the second wave should email samantha.rouse@slivers.com by the end of November with a view to launching the system early next year.

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