Volunteering – in housing and in co-operation

From Dave Palmer, Co-operative Housing Project Manager, Wales Co-operative Manager

The first co-operative principle is Voluntary and Open Membership.

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, which are open to all persons able to use their services.

The co-op principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice, and their last two ethical values, are social responsibility and caring for others.

With these principles and values in mind, I have regularly volunteered to be a board member of local housing associations. I became involved initially, through work as secretary of a small Registered Friendly Society ‘Afon Llwyd Housing Society’ which refurbished properties in Torfaen, and then for Eastern Valley Housing Association which became Melin Homes, and currently as a co-opted board member for Trivallis – previously RCT Homes.

Housing Associations are Industrial and Provident Societies which rely on volunteer board members for their governance.  This board needs a range of volunteers which are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination, and represent the organisation and equally importantly, the community that it serves.

I feel that it is important to give something back to the community that I live and work in. I feel proud to be able to contribute towards how the organisation develops and sustains itself and thereby the community that it serves.

It is a collective, democratic role and consensus decision making is required. This again should reflect the way that the organisation works, and then influence how the wider community may function too.

I realise that not everybody wishes to volunteer, however it is the responsibility of those who do volunteer, to represent the views of the broad membership and consider their perspective. This is especially true in housing co-operatives, which I support, to encourage their volunteer board members, and ordinary members, to take responsibility themselves for their organisation, for the overall benefit of their community.

To see the benefits of this collaboration is reward in itself and I feel very proud to be a volunteer.

This blog was written for Volunteers’ Week, a national campaign taking place between 1-7 June.

1 Comment

  • paula.kennedy@melinhomes.co.uk'

    Dave is right not everyone is able to give the sort of commitment needed to play a voluntary role on a Board or Committee which is why Melin have recently launched their ‘Give a day’ initiative whereby we encourage our staff to commit to volunteer for 7 hours over the year.

    Our Communities team make this easy with loads of opportunities like driving our minibus for residents and community groups, litter picking, supporting events such as Pontypool in the Park or dressing up as our mascots for charity events! When staff have completed the 7 hours they are rewarded with a coveted pin badge.

    We are hoping to achieve 10,000 hours of pledged volunteering time over the next 12 months in celebration of our 10th anniversary. Volunteers make a huge different to the work of organisations like Melin and I’m very proud of the the work of all our volunteers.

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