Onboarding New Autistic Volunteers
Existing volunteers and staff members are well-placed to facilitate and support new and emerging members of your volunteering community. You can also implement practical strategies to make the onboarding process easier for everyone involved.
Our focus in this section is supporting autistic volunteers to navigate new relationships, expectations and tasks during the onboarding process. We have done this by giving you an overview of what a supportive role might look like, and three practical tips you can consider in your current onboarding process.
Providing a sense of support for a new autistic volunteer is particularly important, given they might have a range of unique preferences and characteristics.
How a new volunteer is onboarded and supported will vary, but may include a mentor, buddy and peer support arrangements. Sometimes there is no defined relationship or arrangement, with all members of a volunteering community working together to create a supportive culture. What we are trying to say is there is no correct or one way to onboard and support new volunteers.
Yet, there are several autism affirming ways you can fulfill a supportive role for an autistic individual entering the volunteering sector. This could be as a mentor, buddy or throughout your organisational culture. It all depends on the situation, role and resources of your volunteering organisation.
In this section, we aim to capture the general principles of a supportive role and culture that offers encouragement and guidance. You can find out more about specific mentoring and buddy arrangements in our Downloadable Resource.
Here are some examples of what is a supportive role, and what isn’t. You can use these examples to guide the support and culture of your organisation when onboarding and welcoming new volunteers, whilst also identifying where a more professional or specialised service is more suitable.
- A supportive relationship and culture are key to facilitating and navigating a new role for an autistic volunteer in the onboarding process.