Nyheter - 26th April 2019

April Volunteer Update

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Welcome to this month’s volunteer update. Here is some of the key information for the coming period:

  • Virtual Volunteer App
  • ICE Details (In Case of Emergency)
  • The Role of the Run Director
  • Encouraging volunteering at your event

 

1 Virtual Volunteer App

 

Many of you will by now have heard about the Virtual Volunteer App, which we are increasingly using for new events. Currently we are still starting new events here in the Nordics with the full kit of timers, scanners, and tokens, but before too long we will be moving over to starting events ‘App-Only’ and the same will apply for replacement kit for our existing events.

 

There was recently an article about the App in the UK newsletter, which you can read here.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to try out the App, here are the download links and also to the User Guide.

 

Download the Android version: http://parkrun.me/0et1v

Download the iOS version: http://parkrun.me/w1pf2

Read the user guide: http://parkrun.me/4yj0m

 

The next phase of development hopes to allow the direct download of the timing/scanning data into the web-FMS for that event, therefore cutting out that step in the process. This will be a big step forward when this is achieved.

 

In the Nordics we also have also expressed our concern about the battery life of phones in the winter, and we strongly recommend using a powerbank for the very coldest winter months. We continue to discuss what is the best solution to using the phone in rainy weather. Current advice is to use an umbrella and/or a waterproof case to protect the screen from raindrops if you are scanning, and using your phone in your pocket for timing (with headphones in you can hear the beep, and even use the volume button to time).

 

If you have already been a user, then you can help the development of the App by filling in a short survey to give feedback. Click here to access the survey.

 

Volunteer app cover

 

2 ICE Details (In Case of Emergency)

 

Having a runner collapse or experience a medical emergency at a parkrun event is fortunately rare, but statistically speaking, with over 1 million runs being completed at a parkrun event each month, it does happen. We wrote a blog piece on this for the newsletter a while ago (before this was being sent to people in Denmark).

 

So that’s why parkrun tries to collect the ‘In Case of emergency’ details for everyone taking part – so we are able to contact their give contact person when this happens. It’s also another crucial reason why we ask people to bring their printed barcodes (paper, cards, or wristbands) – so we can find out who this person is if they collapse and are unable to communicate

 

Since 2014 this has been an obligatory question for any signing up for parkrun, so all runners from Norway, Sweden and Finland should have these details on their barcodes. But in Denmark the question was optional, so many parkrunners will not have this information recorded.

 

We will be sending a ‘nudge’ reminder to Danish parkrunners in the near future to ask them to update their contact emergency information by logging in to their parkrun profile. Every additional runner who has this information recorded is a positive step in the right direction.

 

 

Toyen2

 

 

3 The Role of the Run Director

 

The Run Director role is the single most important one on any given parkrun day. The RD has overall responsibility for the event on the day, is the ultimate decision-maker on whether to cancel or not, and oversees all aspects of the event.

 

It is really important that the RD is free to deal with any issues or incidents that may occur and therefore the RD should not participate in the event as a walker or runner. The RD is usually expected to stay close to the start/finish area, as this is where the majority of any potential issues would occur.

 

For our smaller events, it is recognized that the RD may need to manage one of the finish line roles like timer or scanner, but they should still be able to react to and deal with any issues that may occur. As many events already do, you can also encourage some of the first few finishers to help out with roles (like scanning or tokens) when they arrive at the finish.

 

Please also remember that the RD does not need to be the same person who processes results or helps to coordinate volunteers – these are tasks that can be shared out amongst the event team.

 

Uppsala-selfie

 

4. Encouraging volunteering at your event

 

Here in the Nordics, we have a number of events where a lot of the work to put on parkrun each week falls to a relatively small group of individuals. How can we help to encourage more people to help out and spread the weight a little bit more evenly? Well, one way is to try and recognise all the different ways that people can contribute to helping out at parkrun and give credit to these people.

 

Read on for some good tips about recognising all these people…

 

Very few parkruns have a “Communications Person”

 

I know often smaller and newer parkruns have the ED doing most of the communication. However, with big parkruns surely all communications, including emails, Facebook, etc must be done by somebody – most likely not by one person only who is the ED? And even if it is done by the ED, he/she should be credited with the Communications volunteering role.

 

Very few parkruns use the “Equipment, Storage and Delivery” role

 

In fact, not even one parkrun I looked at use this volunteering role. I know in many instances the RD’s are responsible for most of it but are they also washing the high-vis-vests etc?

 

Very few parkruns have a Run Report Writer

 

Most parkruns publish a report with their photo album but very few give recognition for this role. It might very well be that the photos are published by the photographer on Facebook but does it mean he/she in all instances does the report as well?

 

It seems as if it is mostly “behind the scenes” roles that are not credited.  However, I have learned the following:

 

  • Give credit where it is due.
  • If you don’t give a person credit for a “small” contribution he/she might not be interested in becoming involved on a more regular basis and often also in a more visible role.
  • Other people realise the group of volunteers is not an “exclusive clique” and feel more confident to step forward and offer to volunteer. If they see week after week that only a handful people “manage” it is easier for people to remain on the side lines and feel they are not really needed.
  • We have started to specifically state the number of volunteers for the specific week at the announcements and I could see the impact it has. People all of a sudden realised there is more people involved to make the event happen than those they see as marshals on the route and in the funnel.
  • Never turn a person away who offers to volunteer. From time to time we will have people pitch up the morning because of an injury, feeling a bit under the weather, etc. We have a few marshal points which are not CRITICAL and I don’t stress if we don’t have them filled the day before the event. However, I use these points for those unexpected arrivals because most often it is the start of their volunteering journey. Once they see volunteering can be fun, they offer their services on a regular basis – even after they recovered from their injury.
  • If you have a timekeeper who also assisted with pre-event set-up and close-down, it is important to credit him with all three tasks and not just for Timekeeping.

I know some of the above add to the workload of the Volunteer Coordinator/ ED who complete the roster for confirmation, but in the long run it is really worth it. It cultivates goodwill amongst your volunteers and often leads to the old saying of “the more you do the more you want to do” – but for most people only if they receive recognition for it.

 

Deri Thomas

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