Sunday, 4 August 2013

Volunteers and the Masjid

Having written a post with comments and suggestions for masajid on the topic of working with volunteers and community engagement, it seemed fair to also write one for volunteers hightlighting some of the ways that volunteeers can help make projects run successfully.

But firstly, it is worth mentioning that volunteering is a great activity. By definition is ensures that you get to work with people who have a good heart and are interested in actively helping people and making good stuff happen. Often these good people have fascinating stories to tell of from other projects they, or their parents, have been involved in. And often these good people are very intelligent and have interesting jobs or education.

Frankly, money can't buy this kind of environment.

And of course, voluntary work is great stuff to put on your CV and to talk about at your job interview. It shows that you are not a selfish person, that you can see beyond the end of your nose and they you are prepared to go the extra mile just because it is the right thing to do.

To get the most out of your volunteering experience, there are a few points worth bearing in mind...

If you say Inshallah, mean Inshallah
Sadly, BFTF often hears people say that will do a particualar thing "Inshallah" when it is perfectly clear that what they really mean is "No" - this has a bad effect on activities as organisers simply can't rely on people to turn up and do what they said they would do. Perhaps it is better to be clearer about what you mean, perhaps saying "I'd like to participate, but I can't commit for sure" if you have are not sure whether you can make it, or "I'm afraid this event really isn't for me" if you aren't interested.

BFTF cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is to turn up on time at events and to actually undertake whatever actions you have taken on.

Are your suggestions practical?
BFTF can recall being at a meeting some years ago when the atendees were asked what this particular organisation could do to improve. There was no end of suggestions. But when the chairman asked who was going to do the work to implement these ideas everyone went all quiet.

Tumbleweeds rolled across the floor.

Clouds raced across the sky time-lapse stylee.

You get the picture.

The policy BFTF adopts is to only suggest small actions that BFTF will actually do, but needs the organisations support for (and perhaps mentioning at Friday prayers) such as challenging the government on cvilian deaths in air-strikes - or at least to do some of the work and be clear about what the rest of the org needs to do (e.g. draft up a volunteers policy and ask organisation to implement it)

Do not be afraid to say "No"
Volunteers can easily be swamped with too many activities, or be asked to do something that it not particularly effective. BFTF's view is that volunteers are precious and should have no hesitation in saying "No" if they do not wish to take on a particular job.

Be adventurous
As a volunteer, you have access to many people (councillors, academics, local government, police etc) who would not pay you much attention if you were just an ordinary person - you may wish to think what information or work you would like these bodies to do for your organisation, and engage with them to make it happen. Your CV will thank you in due course. Your organisation should thank you right now!

Can you be the source of a positive story?
The Muslim community badly needs positive stories about it to be publicised - it would be great if you could make such a story happen.

Related Content :
Mosques and the community

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