Volunteering at the farm – looking to the future

Volunteering evaluation and survey results (June 2019 – June 2020)

Each year we send out a survey to all of our volunteers to ask how they find their volunteering experience at the farm. We then collate all of the data from the surveys and use this to help us improve the service as well as to produce reports for our funders.

This year 217 local people accessed our volunteering programme on a regular basis, 65 of which completed one of our surveys.  We feel that it’s important to share what we have learnt from our surveys and what changes we hope to make going forward. 

Who volunteers?

Our current funding allows us to run a wonderfully inclusive volunteering programme that is accessible to a wide variety of people living in Bristol.

It is important for us to know that we are enabling a diverse range of people to volunteer, for example those with different backgrounds, life experiences and circumstances, and those that may not always think that volunteering is something they could do.

Having diversity of ethnicity within our volunteer programme is also important to us and is something we recognise we need to put more work into, as is engaging with those who live in the most deprived outer wards of Bristol. Here is what we learnt from the last year!

  • 67% of the volunteers who joined the programme this year were White British; 18% any other white background, 2% other Asian background, 2% Kurdish and 16% preferred not to say. That means that we can record 4% of our current volunteers having ethnicity that is other than white.
  • 72% of our new volunteers identify as female.
  • 62% of our new volunteers were from people identifying as heterosexual, 12% identify as LGBTQ+ (26% ‘Prefer not to say’).
  • 69% of our new volunteers joined our wellbeing focused gardening and animal care groups; 31% of our new volunteers help to support services run by the Health and Social Care team
  • 67% of our new volunteers are aged between 25 – 49
  • 14% of all volunteers who have accessed volunteering this year live in an area identified by Bristol City Council as being deprived outer wards, 86% do not.

The headlines

217 people have regularly volunteered.

7,092 hours of time has been given to the farm by our volunteers. WOW!

Of the people that we have supported to volunteer at the farm:

  • 92% report that their mental health and wellbeing has improved
  • 85% report that they feel part of our community and are meeting new people
  • 81% report they are making positive changes and progress towards their personal goals
  • 78% report improved confidence since starting to volunteer

We cannot begin to tell you how happy we are that so many people enjoy their time here so much and that it helps you as much as you all help us!

Areas for development and what next?

Who volunteers?

From our findings it’s clear that we need to do more for people who experience racism and work harder in becoming a more ethnically diverse service. In the next year (July 2020 – June 2021), we will be working to reach more people from diverse backgrounds with the aim of increasing the percentage of people who engage with us that have ethnicity other than white from 4% (where we are currently) to 16%, to accurately reflect the demographic composition of the city. 

As a way of achieving this target, we are going to adapt the ways in which we advertise for new volunteers, so that people who haven’t previously been aware of Windmill Hill City Farm can find out about us, and also think about how we prioritise people who apply or are referred onto our programmes. This includes reaching out to people from deprived outer wards.

We are also aware that the country’s economic position has changed because of Covid-19. We see that our volunteering programme has the potential to support individuals as they face major life changes because of this. As we move forward, we may priorities volunteering opportunities for these individuals.

Your experience when volunteering

We know how important break time is for making you feel welcome and part of your group. We are going to be looking at ways we can re-introduce this in a way that is in line with the latest government guidelines. Watch this space…

We will continue to look carefully at the groups that we place people in; people need to feel they have a number of things in common to be able to make friendships that have the chance of existing beyond the farm.

People really enjoyed receiving weekly emails during Lockdown, especially the photographs. As most of our volunteers have now returned to the farm these emails are changing but continue to be a good way to share information with volunteers about opportunities we hear about.

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to complete the survey’s we sent out and to all the hours of time and hard work (7,092!) EVERYONE puts in week after week. The whole team value everyone’s contribution, we really do.  Here is to the next year.