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Sarah Davies: the first Macmillan professional to achieve Volunteer Management Quality Standard

Congratulations to Macmillan’s Sarah Davies, who is the very first Macmillan professional in Wales to be presented with the Macmillan Volunteering Quality Standard (MVQS).

Sarah, who is an Information and Support Facilitator, received her award at presentation attended by staff and volunteers at the Macmillan Information Support Service in the University Hospital of Wales.

The MVQS, recognises the development and improvement that Sarah has made to the volunteer experience at the three information centres she runs.

Sarah is supported by a total of 18 volunteers across the three sites in the University Hospital of Wales, University Hospital Llandough and Barry Hospital.

Volunteer Clive Hall volunteered with Sarah since November 2018. A Cardiff resident, who recently retired, Clive decided to join the team when his neighbour who already volunteering with Sarah already, recommended he give it a go.  Sadly, Clive had lost his sister to cancer and he felt that this was a good way to give something back.

Speaking about his volunteering, Clive said: ‘’The best parts are also the most challenging – often you chat with someone, and literally 30 minutes before they have been receiving a cancer diagnosis. You know you have made a difference to that person, even if it’s just by listening to them and giving them some useful information to take away’’.

The MVQS is an optional development programme that Macmillan offers to staff and professionals. It is delivering through one-to-one coaching over a 12-month period.

Sarah has been managing volunteers for a number of years but decided last year that she would take on MVQS.

‘’I wanted to do the qualification to improve the service for both volunteers and the people who benefit from it, to make sure that everyone has the best possible experience’’.

Reflecting on how MVQS had helped her, Sarah said:

‘’It’s definitely helped me to make changes. For instance, I’ve started logging volunteer hours as a way of demonstrating how much extra resource the volunteers add to the centre and put in place things like the volunteer newsletter and the comments board’’.

Sarah and Clive pictured with members of the volunteering services team from Cardiff and the Vale Health Board who celebrated their award with them.

Talking about his experience of volunteering with Sarah at the information centre, volunteer Clive said: ‘’Sarah is definitely the right person for the job! She trusts us to get on with things, but she’s always there (or we can phone her) if we need her.

“She knows when to put the kettle on and have a chat too if we’ve had a challenging conversation with someone.’’

Asked what the MVQS award meant to the team, Clive said:

‘’It’s good to know that volunteers are valued. Sarah put’s a lot of time into making sure that we have what we need, so for instance when I started she didn’t leave me on my own in the centre to greet people dropping in, until we were both happy that I was ready.’’

Being the first professional in Wales to receive the MVQS award, Sarah is now keen to share the experience and inspire other Macmillan colleagues who work with volunteers to undertake the quality standard.

‘’I would definitely recommend it. I’ve received a lot of support along the way in terms of the coaching I’ve received from Sandy, and I’ve found the resources really helpful. It’s been useful to reflect on how I could make changes to improve things for volunteers.’’

Macmillan operates a number of quality assurance standards that ensure services are delivered to the best possible quality for people living with and affected by cancer.

Sarah and her team of volunteers are delighted to have also completed their Macmillan Quality Environment Mark (MQEM) and the Macmillan Quality Information and Support Service (MQUISS) standards this year.

These quality frameworks relate to the standard of the ‘environment’ in the centre itself, and how they deliver their service. The standards cover all manner of things such as the comfort and cleanliness of the centres, to the types of information booklets they have available and how they signpost people to other services such as welfare benefit advice.

Sarah and her volunteering team are really pleased to have gained all three quality standards in one year, a testament to the hard work of everyone involved.

Reflecting on how they work together, Sarah added: ‘’Working with a team of volunteers, you realise how much everyone contributes in different ways, often with the life experience they bring with them. One of the team, Sheila, has travelled a lot, and she is fantastic at giving advice about how a cancer diagnosis can affect holidays and travel insurance, which comes up a lot when people have had a diagnosis. Another volunteer, Steve, is great at supporting people who have diabetes and are worried about what this might mean for their cancer journey, as he has diabetes himself.’’

Clive Hall, Sarah Davies and Sandy Clubb

If you are a Macmillan professional working with volunteers and would like to find out more about MVQS, get in touch with Sandy, she’d be delighted to chat with you.

And if this blog has inspired you to volunteer for Macmillan, take a look at the volunteering opportunities in Wales on our Volunteer Village