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Susie Finch

Susie Finch


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“Volunteers come and go, so there is always someone new that we’d like to reach.”


Not-for-profit (otherwise known as Third Sector) organisations have their own set of challenges and needs when it comes to L&D. In this series, we will hear from several charities and organisations on what their learning priorities are for the coming year, what their pain points are, and what they've been finding effective in the development of their staff.

Laura Skilton is a Flexible Learning Specialist at Cats Protection, the UK's leading feline welfare charity. 

We spoke to Laura about the barriers to training such a large volume of volunteers, as well as some successes they've had in recent months.

What are your development priorities for the year?

We have a wonderful team of face-to-face trainers but to reach more of our 9,000+ volunteers - many of which care for cats - online learning is an obvious choice.

Over the next year we’re redeveloping our core online cat behaviour module (which is also available to the public) and developing smaller interactions. These can then be completed when volunteers or staff have a spare 10 minutes, rather than needing to set aside a larger chunk of time.

We’ll also be looking at induction across Cats Protection after the successful launch this year of a dedicated online induction course for our cat fosterers.

What are your biggest challenges when developing staff?

The sheer number of volunteers and staff that we’d like to support - volunteers (and staff) come and go, so there is always someone new that we’d like to reach. Online learning has helped but there is still more that we can do.

We’re currently rolling out an online data protection module to our volunteers - staff have already been asked to complete it and within the first three months 50% of them have; we’re really pleased with the uptake. Some of this is down to good communication from managers but we’ve also had some great feedback on the module.

Unlike a lot of data protection courses, the content is relevant to our organisation. We bought it through the Charity Learning Consortium and paid extra to personalise the content, and I’m so pleased we did.

What have been your L&D successes?

As an organisation we provide structured support for teams; this could be training tailored specifically to a centre or through initiatives like the Volunteer Champions Programme (VCP). This is designed specifically for people with responsibility for leading and managing volunteer teams.

VCP essentially helps volunteers and staff understand volunteer management best practice, and if we can keep our volunteers happy then we can also help more cats!

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Susie Finch


Read more from Susie Finch

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