Volunteer Meeting - Sunday 6th September 2009

Working group and other such Forest meeting minutes
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Volunteer Meeting - Sunday 6th September 2009

Post by Hannah » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:04 pm

Ok, i just typed the minutes. thanks to tim for taking them.
if anything's missing/wrong please correct me!


Volunteer Meeting – 06/09/09 – 5pm-6.60pm – Hall

Present: Tim, Laura, Gary, Stephen (KM), Scout, Milk, Graeme, Torstein, Frank, Ilaria, Gavin James, Gavin, Osama, Emma, Elodie, Tim, Hannah (KM), Hannah (EVS)

Festival Review
Updates / Things to be discussed from last meeting
Other – A4E

1. Introduction:
Name round
explanation of Forest body language

2. Festival Review
-we think the Forest ran well during the Festival
-main stream media reports that they have loved the Forest and various performances
-well done, may thanks to all volunteers, we've done a good job
-what we should keep in mind for next year:

- volunteer campaign in June/July for August, set up rota very early
- clarify situation regarding BYOB before the Festival starts
Emma, Gavin, Hannah, Osama interested in setting up a plan for the future/next year's volunteers
→ we ran out of cups again – remember for next year to order more, to plan ahead
→ we need more people for the late night shifts and for recycling

3. Updates
- we want to update the volunteer contact list – Hannah hands list around to get details from volunteers attending meeting

- Alcohol Licence Update:
-Emma explains the process for the Forest to get a permission to sell alcohol
-at the last hearing the decision was deferred because of the building size, certain requirements (extra toilets etc.)
-Forest applies again, will take some time until decision will be made
-Scout mentions possibility of restrictive hours for the Forest to sell booze
-if we get the licence volunteers need a training to be allowed to sell alcohol
-there will be a liquor licence training on 18 September from 2-4pm, everyone interested can sign up and come
-question: how is decided who can be a night manager? – Scout explains that persons who are reliable, calm, good, with people and have volunteered a while will be asked

- Conflict Engagement Training – Hannah mentions what this entails in general and will keep us informed if there's one available for volunteers

- Volunteer Party – 17 September

- Encouraging Volunteers to come and stay

-Stephen suggests making a leaflet with information about the forest, how to get involved, a part of the constitution in a nice and fancy way for tables/the menu → ask Alex (he did something “What is the Forest”-like last year?)
-we would like to put information about the forest as a volunteer run place on the menu
-Gavin would like to have a map of positions/people of the Forest, Stephen suggests something visual/a flexible poster for the café that clarifies the structure of the forest → this might encourage new vollies
-we want to introduce a fortnightly event for new volunteers to show them around, explain the forest etc. in a nice atmosphere (more personal than vollie guide) → Hannah, Tove, Scout, Tim will work on it
-Frank discusses the Forest's menu – too spicy? → Café&Events Meeting – Thursday 10th September 7pm

-Milk gives an update about the FAAUQ
-Milk talks about new website, it should be more user friendly; everyone who'd like to be involved should contact Milk

- Working Group Meetings / how to bring information to the people

-Dates of Working Group meetings should be put on the weekly programme in the future to make them more open to everyone interested: next meeting are Artists Facilities (Wednesday 7.30), Café&Events (Thursday 7.30)
-so far you find the dates on the BB → maybe have reminders on facebook/another channel?/set up forest volunteer facebook page? /when we put dates of events and meetings together on website it might confuse people
-discussion of different facebook options → Osama will be facebook admin
-Hannah wants to email volunteers once a month reminding them about future meetings/events → email list needs possibility to withdraw oneself easily

4. A4E
-Frank explains that the forest is hiring people from this company who apparently forces people to volunteer (when they refuse to volunteer their benefits are reduced), he brings a pre-written letter on the subject and wants to discuss it
-we are all not very well informed but we know that A4E works with unemployed people, they suggest options to them to make them gain experience, one of the registered options is the forest
-so far we didn't have the impression that any volunteers felt forced/uncomfortable

on the one hand/pro A4E:
-staying with the company might help the people who come from A4E to gain work experience in an alternative environment, they can get in touch with international people...
-if they don't want to work in the kitchen there should be many other ways how they could volunteer at the forest
-the forest is a good opportunity for the people sent by A4E, forest should be open to all
- Gary, experienced with A4E: really helped him, has had a good experience, they seem to have a good knowledge, he personally didn't feel forced
on the other hand/contra A4E:
-employing people makes their carbon footprint expand
-Are they actually volunteers if they are forced to work here? → if that is really happening we should be working with that company

before coming to a conclusion more info on A4E is required, Emma volunteers to find out more, until we have more information and discussed it again we won't take volunteers from A4E any more

5. The next volunteer meeting will be Sunday, 11 October 5pm.

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Re: Volunteer Meeting - Sunday 6th September 2009

Post by milk » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:47 pm

i met with gavin (ah, that one!) today and described how the forest works. he's going to make a graph representing the working groups and write up some bumf that can be used for the grant applications and also merged with the website and volly guide (if it makes things clearer than they currently are anyway).
hey, if you don't like it, post on the BB (so you can ask about participating for better) | MilkMiruku

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Re: Volunteer Meeting - Sunday 6th September 2009

Post by milk » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:05 am

i've created a forestvollies e-mail mailing list.

http://theforest.org.uk/mailman/listinf ... est.org.uk

Hannah - you're to be the administrator of this yes? anyone else? i'll set it so it's an announcements only list rather than a discussion list.

also, i was bored last night so went ahead and created a The Forest fan page on facebook.

hey, if you don't like it, post on the BB (so you can ask about participating for better) | MilkMiruku

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Re: Volunteer Meeting - Sunday 6th September 2009

Post by Emma » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:22 pm

I checked into the A4E stuff a bit more. I have spoken with a guy at A4E that I know. I just asked him questions around how they work and what the links are with benefits etc. I asked him to hold back on the company line and give me the facts.

A4E is a private training company that won a tender with the government as part of the "New Deal" scheme. This is aimed at getting people who are long term unemployed back into work and who have been claiming benefits for a long time. They are the only company that won this contract in Edinburgh and Lothians so we would not receive these people from another company in our area. They also do this around the UK but not in every county/region e.g. Glasgow has another company.

The process goes like this... you are unemployed for a long time (I think a year but forgot to ask exactly), you get sent by the job centre to go on a course with A4E, part of the course is going on a voluntary work placement related to your skills/area of interest, the rest of the course has things like doing a CV, interview skills and help with job searching such as learning how to use a computer. If you are sent on this course then its compulsory and your benefits could be stopped if you don't attend it (but by the job centre not A4E- more on this to come).

The volunteer work placement is part of the "work experience" element of the course. The person chooses their placement. They can nominate somewhere that they know of or they will discuss with their A4E person what would suit them best. They have a number of places to choose from (especially charities/not for profit orgs) and are trying to cover various types of work - for example; we come under the cafe/catering heading, charity shops would be retail, Cyrenians are on it and they have the Botanics for gardening.

I asked the question about what if someone chose us and changed their mind if they didn't feel comfortable or happy here. I was told that they would work with the individual to find another placement. Noone is forced to volunteer somewhere that they didn't like. We know this is the case for one of our A4E guys as this happened with him - he vollied at three other places before here. I guess we could speculate that if people kept rejecting placements this could get to be an issue (this is my thoughts not what I was told).

I asked the question about would someone's benefits ever be stopped if they didn't work with The Forest. I was told that noone would be forced to come here in the first place so benefits would not be linked because of this. We should only get people that choose us. They told me that its important for the A4E people that the companies they work with have positive experiences with placements as they want to keep the door open for others who might come along later. Benefits are linked to attendance though so technically if someone didn't show up here when they said they would then if we report back that then their benefits could be affected.

A4E cannot stop benefits themselves. They will report back to the job centre anyone that doesn't show up on their courses. The job centre may then choose to stop benefits if the person doesn't have sick line/compassionate reasons or whatever.

I asked about the fraud (Gavin mentioned). This was to do with several of their employees in an English branch of the company making up people getting work to fix their figures. These employees were sacked.

So that's the chat from A4E. I don't know if this helps. I do think that it seems unlikely that the scenario we were told actually happened the way we were told. It would be good to get our KMs perspective on this whole situation too. I had a brief chat with Mati and he said that his experience was really down to the individuals that come through. Some people really seem to enjoy it and are great for the kitchen as they stay on for a while. Others perhaps are less keen and comes over.

I've also put it on the FWG agenda. If anyone else wants to add anymore views feel free and we'll take it all forward for discussion.

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