It's the 1st May and the sun is shining (about time!!). Today we're running volunteer training up in Liverpool, so it seemed fitting to write the latest blog about volunteering ... and all the questions that arise!!

I always get asked the same few questions. And to be fair, I always ask the same few questions!! Before I sign up to something, I want to know how much or how long I'm committed for,  and what it will involve. 

So, to that end - here are all the FAQs you need if you're thinking about volunteering for The OR Society and helping with the outreach and education work we do. 

We hope they'll answer all your questions and more! If you read down to the event, you'll find some lovely quotes as well from our volunteers. 

1-    How much time do I need to give up?
However much you can! We’re very flexible, but to give a guide; most events last between an hour and a day; Career Talks and Maths Workshops are shorter (generally an hour or two) whereas Careers Fairs and Big Bang Fairs are longer (typically held during the day from 11am until 3pm).

2-    What would I do?
Volunteers for OR in Schools (ORiS) do a mixture of things. The most common activities we need volunteers for are:

·    Careers Talk - this involves talking to a group of school, college or university students about your experience. This is formal(ish) event and you are likely to have somewhere between 10 minutes to 40 minutes to talk about what you do. We have PPT templates, example talks and assistance to help you prepare for these events.
·    Maths workshop - This is where you would run an interactive exercise, demonstrating a real life application of OR (which has been simplified for student use). We have all the resources for this – including interactive exercises, complete instructions and worksheets. Generally a morning or afternoon. 
·    Careers fairs - these involve attending a local school or university and being an exhibitor. The idea here is to man a stand and chat to interested students about what you do / where you work / how you got into OR. We will provide you with all the equipment such as tablecloth, banners, flyers, pens and keyrings etc.
·    Big Bang Fairs - A cross between a careers fair and maths workshops. You will be exhibiting and talking to students but also providing them with interactive exercises to have a go out. Always great fun! We provide you with all materials for this.

3-    What about the resources?
We’ll provide you with all the resources you need to attend a careers fair, school visit or university talk. We’ll provide you with all the resources you need to attend a careers fair, school visit or university talk. If you’re attending a careers fair to promote OR we can provide you with pens, keyrings, DVDs and flyers for you to hand out (we find freebies always go down well with students!). We also have banners and promotional material to ensure everyone knows you’re representing The OR Society. If you’re visiting a school and running a workshop, again we will provide you with all the equipment you need including Lego bricks, worksheets and everything else. (The resources that have been developed for the workshops are all based on real projects and have been adapted to make the suitable for school use. They are tried and tested and are “off-the-shelf” resources, meaning there’s minimal prep involved).

4-    Do I have to pay for anything?
No. We will cover all reasonable travel (such as a bus or train fare) to carry out the activity on behalf of The OR Society. We don’t want you to be out of pocket by volunteering so we’ll cover expenses related to the event –such as the cost of sending out / returning materials and travel.

5-    Do I have to arrange all the logistics / paperwork / security check myself?
No – we will sort all this out for you! We will liaise with the school in advance to work out dates, times and of course to ensure you are registered and the school are expecting you. We will handle all the paperwork – you simply need to turn up at the school on the arranged day!

6-    Why would I do it?
To have fun, to learn new skills, to give something back to the community. We could go on and on about the benefits of volunteering – but these are just some of the reasons why people get involved. In the last year alone, volunteers have said the following about volunteering with us …  

“What I loved was the friendliness of staff and fellow stall owners at the venue, as well as the politeness and enthusiasm of the students" - Liverpool Hope University (2017)

“The teacher and student were really committed , interested and engaged. In the second session we even talked about shortest path, travelling salesman problem, simulation, queuing theory and dynamic programming!” – UTC Warrington (2017)

“Video was brilliant and handouts were popular. Really useful resources” – Careers Talk, High Wycombe School (2017)

“Went really well, and really enjoyed it” – Manchester Met University (2017)

“It was heart warming and exhausting! So many children!! The puzzles went down a treat and we used them to talk about problem solving and resilience and looking at hints from different perspectives etc.” – Big Bang Fair (2017)

“There was genuine interest in the variety of OR work. The engagement of the students was brilliant” – Lancaster Uni (2017)

Sign up to volunteer with us by clicking the link here 

**EDIT 03/05/18 - someone asked a question around the PPT templates - these are designed to be downloaded and used immediately! If you're going into a school, college or university and talking about what you do you can use the PPT template on the OR in Schools part of the website to support you. It is 25 slides long and contains background around what OR is, a short video link to watch and examples of where / how OR is used in real life. The PPT can be edited or amended to include your own experiences if you wish, or can be used by itself straight off.   


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