Mark Birkett Named Swim England South West Volunteer of the Month

Communications TeamBath AS

Huge congratuations to our Volunteer Co-ordinator Mark Birkett who was named Swim England South West Volunteer of the Month for December 2019.

The Swim England South West  Award is designed to recognise and promote the hard work and dedication of volunteers within Aquatics clubs across the South West. The decision is made by a voluneer panel agaist the following criteria:

1.       Has been an inspiration to others (volunteers, participants, members) in the Club.

2.       Has successfully used initiative, creativity or innovation in undertaking their volunteer role to have an impact on the Club, participants or other volunteers.

3.       Providing excellent support to others in the Club.

4.       Achieved impact through determination under challenging circumstances.

 

Here's why Team Bath AS thought Mark deserved this accolade....

(Mark's nomination - by Karen Bowen and Karen Saunders)

Team Bath AS consider Mark a ‘star’ volunteer after taking on the role of Volunteer Coordinator for the club several years ago. As we know Swim England sees this role as vital for club’s survival and this is certainly the case for when it comes to managing our volunteers experience.

Part of Mark’s role is to ensure the smooth running of our Open meet competitions by recruiting and co-ordinating volunteers. These competitions enable swimmers to gain qualification times for county, regional and national Championships and we have clubs attending from all over the country.

Mark assigns volunteers to tasks and is well organised and approachable and last season organised the volunteers at our four meets (September, November, February and June). Since the start of this season we have already had two large meets, a Level 4 Sprint and Relay Invitational meet in September at Horfield and a Level 2 meet with our new meet partner, Millfield, on 18th-20th October.

All the volunteers for these competitions are members of Team Bath AS and Mark must ensure that he recruits new members and retains existing volunteers. Mark is part of the Team Bath AS Open meet team that plan the meet, timings, numbers, refreshments and officials and at Team Bath AS we have a relatively small membership. In terms of figures, covering a 3 day meet, with up to 140 volunteer sessions per meet to fill. The competitions often run from 8am to 7pm and require extra time for setting up and tidying up.

Planning enough volunteers takes an enormous amount of energy and dedication to ensure all jobs are filled and that volunteers have a good experience so that they will be happy to volunteer again. This is where Mark excels as he is a confident and effective communicator, enthusiastic and a good motivator. He will take on any volunteer role and makes sure everyone is aware of what they are doing giving clear instructions in advance and buddying volunteers until they are more experienced.

He allocates time slots and provides job descriptions, meets and greets people and teams and more importantly he values the volunteers with thanks in person and by emails.

The Volunteer Coordinator job has a heavy workload and time commitment. You need to resolve problems, be fair to people and communicating well and deal with pressure. If any of you have done this role you will know that is it not a job for the faint hearted. You know a job is done well when Mark can confidently pass the role to another volunteer to take charge if he cannot attend a session.

Our Volunteers are able to be recognised by swimmers and parents because they are all wearing the club T-shirts. They can easily be approached for information and answer questions. It also helps Mark’s volunteers to feel part of a team and valued for providing an excellent level of professionalism whilst providing a significant increase in profile for the club.

Mark is also a qualified Team Manager having attended both Team Manager 1 and 2 training and has a Safeguarding and Protecting Children certificate. He will coordinate the club’s volunteers for County and Regional Championships with the Competition Secretary.

This was a message sent to our meet promoter at our most recent meet with MillfieldI have just made it home after what has been an outstanding swim meet.  Whilst my daughters have only been competing for three years, this weekend was without doubt the best organised and facilitated meet I have ever attended.  

Your team were simply outstanding, thank you.’

Mark has been key to a Volunteering Scheme that started at Team Bath AS earlier this year in which every family with a swimmer in the Performance squad was asked to commit to 30 hours of volunteering for the season from January. The aim was that volunteering could be spread evenly across all members rather than falling on just a few. Many stepped up and Mark co-ordinated with the Club Development Officer to ensure that jobs were fulfilled in all roles not just at competitions. He was asked to keep a register of hours for the committee so that the club could monitor and evaluate volunteer commitment.

It is the ‘little’ improvements that make the difference to Team Bath AS providing an environment for the swimming community that everyone can be proud to of. Swimming, like all amateur sports are reliant on the skills, knowledge and commitment of volunteers like Mark for their future and he is a tremendous asset to the club.

Here is a chance to Mark talking about helping as part of ‘Volunteers Week’ which is uploaded on our Facebook page and went out on twitter

https://www.facebook.com/teambathas/videos/1685519121533510/