Ongoing and productive relationships allow for the growth of volunteers and organisations alike.
We have used The Growth Zone to visually represent this relationship, reflecting the delicate balance of getting outside one’s comfort zone and staying in the ideal environment for learning and development.
While there are many ways you can continue to encourage volunteers and your organisation in the long-term, we have chosen The Growth Zone as a simple way to help frame the progress you have made so far and how you can continually learn and develop into the future.
The Growth Zone Diagram
- Comfort Zone – this is where we spend a lot of our time. This space feels easy, safe, stable, and secure. We may be in an environment where things are second-nature to us, or we feel a solid sense of control.
In this zone, you may not develop meaningful engagement with new and exciting opportunities, such as a thriving partnership with the autistic community. You may also forgo opportunities to develop new volunteers and build on their strengths and unique skills. While this zone may be comfortable, you forgo meaningful opportunities for growth and engagement with a diverse range of communities.
While this zone may be comfortable, you forgo meaningful opportunities for growth and engagement with a diverse range of communities.
- Growth Zone – this is the ideal environment for fostering ongoing and future development. Volunteers and organisations alike are challenged, yet supported, by new experiences and opportunities.
We have aimed at placing you in this zone in all of the resources and tools we have provided so far. We have strived to create a safe yet productive relationship between the volunteering sector and the autistic community.
While this zone might feel different,it is essential forongoing andfuture development. Being in this zone exposes your organisation to new and exciting opportunities, whilst setting up individual volunteers to demonstrate their potential and achieve success.
- Panic Zone – is where we are thrust into an environment vastly different from our norm. It may even be an environment that we have a particular fear about. This space might feel exhausting, stressful, frustrating, anxiety- provoking, and scary.
If you find yourself in this zone, we recommend keeping it simple. You don’t need to change every process and procedure to become an accessible and autistic friendly volunteering organisation. Nor do you need to be confused or intimidated by differences among the autistic community. A little bit of communication, respect and understanding is all you need.
Ultimately, what feels comfortable is different for every person. What you can control is your exposure to situations and experiences that fall within the growth zone.
Along your future journey, reflect on these zones often and adjust your approach as necessary.
- Moving outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself can give you access to a wide range of diverse and valuable volunteers, differentiating your volunteering organisation.