Festina Lente regards volunteers as a valuable resource and we encourage them to get involved at all levels of the organisation and within all appropriate activities. We aim to train, support and supervise our volunteers to the best of our abilities, and to act quickly and fairly if difficulties arise.
For the purpose of this policy volunteer refers to all those who provide their time or a service voluntarily, this includes those applying for work experience positions as part of a course curriculum. The purpose of this information is to provide guidance on all aspects of volunteering at the Festina Lente. These procedures apply to all volunteers who undertake tasks on behalf and at the direction of the Festina Lente.
Festina Lente Volunteer Policies & Procedures
As per legislation requirements all volunteers over age 16 must be Garda vetted prior to starting volunteering in Festina Lente.
We would ask that volunteers be able to volunteer for either a half day or full day on a regular basis with a commitment of a minimum of 6 months.
We request that all volunteers adhere to the dress code at Festina Lente. Shorts, short skirts, sleeveless or low cut tops or ripped clothing are not permitted. All volunteers should have in their possession water proof clothing, and jewellery is not permitted on the yard or if working in the gardens and maintenance. No mobiles phones are allowed in any of the Equestrian Centre areas or when working with the horses. We do not recommend you bring any valuables to Festina Lente.
Equestrian Centre Volunteers should wear Navy / Black jodphurs, Navy polo shirt and navy jumper or fleece, comfortable sturdy outdoor boots, no slip-ons, sandals or open toed shoes.
Volunteers in any area outside of the Equestrian Centre should wear Navy / Black Trousers or Denim Jeans, Navy polo shirt and navy jumper or fleece, comfortable sturdy outdoor boots. You are required for Health and Safety reasons to wear reinforced safety boots in the Garden or if doing maintenance. We also recommend you wear appropriate gardening gloves while working with the soil.
Festina Lente will consider involving anyone as a volunteer but some areas require volunteers to have prior experience and be able to work on their own without staff with them all the time. Individuals must, however, be able to demonstrate a commitment to the aims of the organisation and will only be placed if their needs as volunteers match the needs of the organisation. No person who has a conflict of interest with any aspect of the organisation will be accepted as a volunteer.
Relationship with paid staff
Volunteers are appointed to enhance the capacity of paid staff, not as a substitute for them. Festina Lente does not accept the services of its paid staff as volunteers. Clear roles are established to differentiate between paid staff and volunteers and to foster mutually beneficial and complementary relationships.
Volunteers are treated as full members of the Festina Lente team. They are treated as equally and fairly as paid staff and are included in the organisation’s functions and decision-making processes wherever practical. Volunteers are provided with appropriate work sites and have access to the space, equipment and facilities necessary to volunteer effectively and comfortably.
Working times are negotiated between the relevant manager and the volunteer and are as flexible as the tasks allow. Voluntary time commitment is never expected to match that of full-time paid staff, but unscheduled absences can create organisational problems. When expecting to be absent, volunteers should inform their supervisor as soon as possible, so that alternative arrangements can be made.
Volunteers are expected to work within the policies and procedures of the Festina Lente and adhere to its ethos. As representatives of the organisation, they are responsible for presenting a positive image of the Festina Lente to the outside world.
Representation of the Festina Lente
Volunteers must seek prior approval from the CEO before undertaking anything that might affect the organisation. This includes, but is not limited to, statements to the press, joint initiatives with other bodies, and agreements involving contractual or financial obligations.
Festina Lente respects the volunteer’s right to privacy and confidentiality. In turn, volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all privileged information to which they are exposed while volunteering with the Festina Lente.
A system of records is maintained on all volunteers, including dates and times of service, duties performed, evaluation of work, etc. Volunteer records are accorded the same confidentiality as staff records.
Service at the discretion of the Festina Lente
Any voluntary service is at the discretion of Festina Lente. Festina Lente may, at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate a volunteer’s relationship with the organisation. Similarly, volunteers may at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate their relationships with the Festina Lente. Notice of such decisions should be communicated at the earliest opportunity, preferably in writing.
Festina Lente Volunteer Recruitment
Role descriptions and person specifications
Like paid staff, volunteers require a clear and accurate description of the tasks and responsibilities they are expected to undertake. A detailed induction takes place which clarifies for the manager and the volunteer the following: volunteering role, starting and finishing dates, hours and place of work, name of supervisor and tasks to be undertaken. The role may be amended in joint agreement with the volunteer and the manager.
Festina Lente Volunteer Applications
Potential volunteers may apply speculatively although from specific volunteer vacancies may be advertised on the Festina Lente website or through the Wicklow Volunteer Centre. Volunteers are recruited in accordance with Festina Lente Equal Opportunities Policy. All volunteers are required to complete an application form. Volunteer applications are discussed at a fortnightly admissions meeting. All applicants are contacted following these meetings and advised of the progress of their application.
Suitable candidates are invited to attend an informal chat with the relevant manager and/or CEO to ascertain their interest in and suitability for the role. Written records of all communications are kept.
Checks for suitability
References are always taken up. If the role requires it, health (mental and physical) checks are also undertaken. Other checks may also be completed (for example, ascertaining professional qualifications). Volunteers are always warned in advance of the intention to make these checks. If they refuse permission and cannot provide an acceptable reason, they will not be placed.
Placements are made only after the role has been agreed and all necessary checks have proved acceptable. No placements are made unless the requirements of the volunteer and the volunteer’s supervisor can be met.
All placements are subject to an initial trial period of three months. During or at the end of this period, the relevant manager meets with the volunteer to discuss the volunteer’s suitability for their role. At this point, volunteers may continue in their current role, be reassigned to a more suitable role, or be asked to leave.
Festina Lente Volunteer Training
All volunteers receive induction training when they begin voluntary work with the Festina Lente. This consists of a general introduction to the organisation, as well as a specific orientation on the purposes and requirements of their volunteering role.
Volunteers receive initial and ongoing on-the-job training to provide them with the information and skills necessary to perform their tasks well. The training must be appropriate for the demands of the position and the capabilities of the volunteer.
Festina Lente Volunteer Supervision
Lines of communication
Lines of communication should operate in both directions and should exist formally and informally. Volunteers must have access to all appropriate information, memos, materials and meetings relevant to their assignments. Volunteers must be consulted on all decisions that would substantially affect their volunteering conditions.
Each volunteer must have a clearly identified supervisor who is responsible for the day-to-day management of that volunteer. The manager normally takes on the supervisor’s role, but all staff members receive guidance on how to involve volunteers effectively in the work of the organisation.
Volunteers who do not adhere to the organisation’s rules or who fail to perform their volunteer assignments satisfactorily may be subject to dismissal. No volunteer’s involvement will be terminated in writing until the volunteer has had an opportunity to discuss the reasons for possible dismissal with their supervisor. Grounds for dismissal include, but are not limited to, the following: gross misconduct, being under the influence of drugs (including alcohol), theft, misuse of equipment and materials, abuse of clients and co-workers, breaches of confidentiality, failure to abide by Festina Lente policies and procedures and failure to complete duties to a satisfactory standard.
Concerns and Grievances
If volunteers are not satisfied that issues relating to their volunteering are being handled appropriately, they are entitled to have their concerns reviewed by the CEO. The CEO will review the issue as soon as practical after receiving a written complaint, and take appropriate action. The CEO makes the ultimate decision.
Whenever possible, informal exit interviews are held with any volunteers who are leaving the organisation, either because they have reached the end of their project, or are leaving for some other reason. Interviews are usually conducted with the volunteer’s ex-supervisor and written records are kept. The session should ascertain why the volunteer is leaving, how they found the volunteering experience and what suggestions they offer to improve the way the organisation operates. The offer of a personal reference for future employment etc. is made to each volunteer.
Festina Lente Volunteer Support and Recognition
Festina Lente endeavors to provide the support necessary to encourage and empower volunteers to make a meaningful contribution and gain significant benefits from their voluntary work. Giving support involves giving volunteers a safe setting in which to express themselves, let off steam and discuss how they feel about volunteering. The manager will always try to be available to volunteers who require support in other areas that are affecting their performance.
Volunteers provide a unique service to Festina Lente, the benefits of which are difficult to quantify. It is essential that their efforts are recognised and rewarded. Festina Lente staff are responsible for thanking all volunteers informally on a regular basis for the valuable contribution that they make to the organisation. The manager is responsible for ensuring that more formalised recognition takes place at key times.
Volunteers give their time and skills free of charge to Festina Lente and any expenses must be agreed prior to spending with their manager.
Insurance is provided by the Festina Lente to cover all volunteers working on behalf and at the direction of the organisation.
Personal and vocational development
Volunteers are encouraged to develop their skills while involved with the organisation and are assisted into assuming additional and greater responsibilities over time, if they desire this.
Festina Lente Volunteer Monitoring and Evaluation
Festina Lente Volunteer Involvement
The Festina Lente monitors and evaluates volunteer involvement in the organisation on a regular basis and seeks to make ongoing improvements.
Constructive feedback is always welcome. It must be given to the relevant manager, or CEO who will ensure that it is considered.