Balloons for baboons
Published: Aug 16, 2017What does a Volunteer Coordinator do? Well, they coordinate volunteers... and blow up balloons for baboons...
I’m the Volunteer Coordinator for Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts. When people hear my job title, they tend to ask me two things. Firstly, ‘Are you paid to do that?’ (I think the word ‘volunteer’ tends to confuse people!) Secondly, ‘…What exactly do you do?’
My job is a very varied and interesting one. I am responsible for the recruitment and induction of all the volunteers at Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts (well over a hundred people between the two sites) and I also assist with organising training, ensuring records are kept up to date, and generally just helping to look after the department.
A typical day for me can include a fair bit of paperwork or admin, adding new volunteers to the system, going through potential new volunteer interest forms, putting together induction packs and so on. There are also a lot of meetings – with possible new volunteers to talk through the roles they’re interested in, with staff who want to add in new volunteer roles or adapt current ones, and other discussions to make sure we’re supporting the WWCT in every way we can.
Lastly, there are the things I would class under ‘other’. This can be anything from helping blow up balloons to make piñatas for the baboons to helping our Head Vet get into a giant rhino mascot outfit! The best bit about my job is that every day is different, and I am able to meet a huge variety of people from all walks of life. Even when I’m in the office, right outside is the wildlife garden and macaque enclosure, so I’m never very far from an animal or two! I feel very lucky to have the job that I do and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Frankie Lawrence-Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator, Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts