Sally’s Blog

Follow our CEO, Sally Higham, as she documents the RunAClub journey.

What you said about volunteering

I’ve had a great response to my last blog about directing volunteers and I thought I would share some of the very helpful comments that have been made as these might be useful for many of you, as they are to me.

The question I asked was how much should we direct volunteers, and who should direct and how?

‘I think there is every reason to create ‘volunteer contracts’ and job descriptions – for all volunteers young or old. Using these mean everyone’s expectations are clear from the outset. They also became an important reference point if things start to stray.’
‘To be fair to volunteers I think we need to be clear what they can and can’t do and match people to their skills and experience. ‘
‘When people first volunteer in any group, they need some direct in the early stages. The amount depends on the individual (e.g. relevant experience) and age can be a factor as often young people are less confident’.
‘A good induction is crucial.’
‘I don’t think it takes long for new volunteers to gain confidence, mostly from observing existing volunteers (experienced volunteers soon pick up on how much direction is needed).’
‘My view is that the amount of direction has to be on an individual basis’.
‘Volunteers can develop and move on in new careers – or their current ones – given the right training and support.’
‘Opportunity for feedback can develop their skills and confidence – volunteers are so valuable’.

Structure is clearly important for volunteers and organisations to thrive – as is the need to value what volunteering brings to the volunteer as well as the organisation. I hope these comments will help some of you, particularly in smaller organisations where structure can sometimes be hard to pin down when a few time-pressed people are taking on a lot of tasks.

Sally’s blog December

Volunteers, volunteers and… volunteers

Most of you who read this blog volunteer, even if you don’t all realise you do. Sometimes people ‘help out’ and believe me, this is a brilliant way to help any voluntary led group that is doing it’s best to support their members.

You may not support a group and may help a friend or neighbour – there are so many different ways of identifying ‘volunteering’ that I personally believe it’s far more
embedded in our culture than many think. I personally have lots of formal and informal voluntary roles and of course work in this world too; however, my husband doesn’t formally ‘volunteer’ but is always the first to help a friend or neighbour who needs something doing. It all counts.

One thing I really notice is that most ‘volunteers’ that I know, like to be asked and directed and yet there is often a real fear from charitable/voluntary organisations to direct those helpers – almost as if they worry they might lose people if they direct too strongly. So how much is too much? Is it down to the discretion of the leader of any group, or should it be determined on an individual basis? I’m interested to know what you think.

Answers on a postcard please (or text/email/social media…)

Kick Loneliness into Touch

This is it.. today we launch our crowdfunding campaign

Kick Loneliness into Touch!

For every £100 raised, we can support a new, struggling club for a whole year for free. Visit our page for the full story, see our range of great rewards and contribute now.

It would be wonderful if you could share our campaign with your contacts.

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The Facts

A study by the British Red Cross found that 9 million people in Britain feel often or regularly lonely – that’s a fifth of the population – according to research by the Co-operative Group.

A poll for The Herald by BMG Research found just 27 per cent of over-65s admitted to feeling lonely from time to time, or more often, compared with 59 per cent of people in the 16-34 age group.

Analysis by Age UK found that 3.9 million people over 65 say their main form of company is the TV.

People who are lonely are 50% more likely to develop dementia a recent study by Loughborough University found.

A recent NHS survey has again highlighted the high levels of mental distress among adolescent girls. The research shows that 24 per cent of girls aged 14 now feel so lonely, distressed and unloved that their symptoms qualify them for a diagnosis of depression. This is double the rate reported in 2007.

A 2015 study carried out in Utah memorably compared the health risks from loneliness to the harm suffered by someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day. Other studies have claimed it is more deadly than obesity.

Sally’s blog September

It doesn’t matter what project we are on – whether we are in a large public sector team, a school, a voluntary group, a start up or a Board member, as Leaders we can never take our foot off the pedal. That doesn’t mean we musn’t rest or relax or inject calm and thoughtfulness, because that is equally crucial and for another discussion – but we cannot let up and not continue to drive our team, our project or task in hand.

RunAClub – the one stop shop for your club

I have become a little paranoid these days as to whether I can trust websites that I’m purchasing from.  I look at these apparently legitimate sites and wonder if they are real as I hear of people conned into buying fake holidays or passports, insurance or products and services.

That’s why we have decided to help clubs and groups further and offer added services to partners whose services we have either used ourselves (eg. DBS checks) or know of others who use them (e.g. Club insurance).

Evolving RunAClub

When I set up and ran a youth club with 20 volunteers and 50 members twelve years ago, I never dreamt that it would lead to supporting not just 50, but almost 40,000 members of clubs all these years later.

Because that was what RunAClub was designed to do – solve the problems for leaders like me who were feeling swamped by admin and red tape. Now our team and the evolving digital platform has supported 32,000 community group or club sessions and over 300,000 attendances – that’s a heck of a lot of positive activity – whether you are a youth club, sports group, health or arts based, or just taking part in a hobby, everyone has red tape they need to follow.

Volunteering – a way of life

Week in and week out, I hear stories of individuals or community groups finding it incredibly hard to find volunteers and helpers (and of course the money) to run community projects – and the other volunteers and I face the same issues at the youth club I help with. In addition, there is increasing pressure to provide safe places for young people to have fun and /or learn safely and provide communities with new opportunities, the chance to develop new skills in leisure time, improve quality of life, and raise aspirations.  This is what RunAClub aim to help –  by providing the simple means of managing red tape and allowing activities to take place.

Proving Impact

Proving your impact has become a hot topic! We can help you with your output and outcome reporting and even produce some extremely useful and pretty infographics to demonstrate your impact and reach to your funders and partners. If you would like to see our infographic please message through the system


It has been a very busy year at RunAClub HQ – we have welcomed some great new customers and renewed contracts with councils such as Devon, Dorset, Essex, Guernsey Youth, Manchester, Wiltshire, and sporting bodies such as Black Country Consortium, Lincolnshire Sport, Parkour UK, Sported, UK Dodgeball, Walsall Sport and Leisure, and national umbrella organisations such as the Royal Voluntary Service and UK Youth.

We are delighted to continue working with so many clubs, groups and projects and are really excited about getting all of the new clubs onto our system and working with them over the coming months and years. We have now supported over 24,000 sessions across the country and that’s a fantastic measurement for us. Volunteers have put in over 140,000 hours of support to their clubs during those sessions.

The RunAClub team are really chuffed when our customers decide to extend our agreements and recognise how they are getting, even more, value from our platform – have a look at some of our reviews of the fantastic groups using our system here and please do ask if you would like to see our more in-depth case studies or examples of our very visually appealing quarterly reports.

We were also delighted to receive the South West Women in Business Award for Innovation this year, which we’ve added to our trophy cabinet at HQ!

So 2016 has been another great year and we want to say a big thank you to our customers, our backers Nominet Trust, Big Issue Invest, Big Venture Challenge and Creative England and our partners – but 2017 looks like its going to be even better with some exciting new developments to the RunAClub platform which we think will help those hard-pressed volunteers keeping the countrywide sports clubs, arts groups, youth organisations and community groups alive and kicking.

Merry Christmas and have a very Happy New Year.