Two hundred people have registered to attend Macmillan Cancer Support’s first volunteer conference and awards ceremony next week, which the charity said would be the largest conference held by a UK-based charity for its volunteers.
The event, which will take place on 29 and 30 May, will bring together the cancer charity’s volunteers and allow them to network with one another and with paid staff. They will be able to learn from each other through workshops and hear from speakers at keynote sessions.
The awards ceremony will recognise the contributions of some of the charity’s 18,000 volunteers.
"We know that other charities have held one-day conferences and volunteer receptions as more of a recognition tool, but no other charity has done it on this scale before," a spokeswoman for the charity said.
Asked how much the event would cost, she said: "Unfortunately we aren’t able to talk in public about how much we are spending on the event."
The event is free for volunteers to attend, but they must have worked with the charity for at least a year in order to register.
Lynda Thomas, the charity’s chief executive, will speak at the event about her volunteer experience, the changes she has witnessed during her 14 years at Macmillan and the charity’s future strategy.
Joelle Leader, director of volunteering at the charity, will speak about the importance of volunteers’ work, what the charity is doing to support them and how they can help the charity recruit additional volunteers.
"At Macmillan we regularly ask for feedback from our volunteers, through focus groups, interviews, staff steering groups and conversations with other charities about best practice," Leader said in a statement. "Based on these discussions, we decided that a volunteer conference was the perfect opportunity to spend time with our volunteers as well as providing an environment for them to gain new skills, meet like-minded people, learn about Macmillan’s plans for the future and have their say."
She said the charity had been researching and planning the event for about a year.
Macmillan plans to repeat the event in 2016, according to its website, and is encouraging this year’s attendees to discuss the workshops they have selected and get to know one another on its online forum We Give Our Time.