Recruitment in the Voluntary Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

Corinne Morrison-Gillies

Professional, energetic and passionate about people, Corinne Morrison-Gillies, CrossReach Head of HR Operations and People Development recently co-published reflective paper with Dr Doug Young, Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University: “Recruitment in the Voluntary Sector: Challenges and Opportunities”. 

Having read the insightful paper, we caught up with Corinne to ask her a bit more about herself and how the project came about.

What is your background?
“Human Resources!  I’ve been in HR for over 20 years now.  I did a general Business Degree at Napier University and was fortunate to have some really good people support me in terms of the lecturers there.  Dr Sandra Watson, who has now retired, recognised a natural passion I had for the people focussed side of my work and encouraged me to follow these instincts into an HR focussed career.”

“Long story short, at the end of my degree, she supported my decision to pursue a Masters in Human Resource Management. It was a pilot and was the first time there had been an opportunity to study for a Masters in HRM, whilst working to gain professional qualifications.  I was really pleased to have the chance to go from graduating with my general degree straight into studying for a Masters in HRM whilst working towards and gaining graduate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) at the same time.”

You have a wealth of experience in working within finance and legal sectors throughout the UK, so why come to the Third Sector and in particular, why CrossReach?
“I think I have always had a passion for how we can support people in business and I gained experience over a wide range of sectors.

 “Prior to coming to CrossReach, I worked in retail and one of the big focusses within my time there was working with Job Centres to support people who had been unemployed get into work.  That really ignited my passion for that type of thing – it wasn’t only about HR but it was working with people who are less advantaged in recruitment.  This seemed to be a theme that was following my career and whilst I would say that I am an HR generalist and cover all areas like Employee Relations and People Development, I would say that my passion is supporting people to gain employment, particularly if they have had challenges.

“I guess there were a couple reasons why I wanted to come to CrossReach. I have always done some form of voluntary work.  For example, when I was a student, I volunteered with Radio Lollipop in the Sick Kids Hospital.  I also trained as a volunteer counsellor with Childline before becoming a supervisor and supporting them with their recruitment and training.  I knew I wanted to work in this type of sector. 

“The second thing was I was looking for something that I could use my faith with as well and CrossReach provided a combination of all I was looking for. The opportunity was just perfect and I have been with the Organisation now for 9 years.”

How did the opportunity to co-write the recently published paper with Dr Doug Young come about?
“The significant challenges that the care sector has are not dissimilar to those of retail and hospitality where you have very low paid staff that are working really hard on the front line, albeit different front lines.  Bringing this experience to my ongoing connections with Edinburgh’s Napier University, where I occasionally lecture on Employee Resourcing and Recruitment and am also on a working party that researches and looks at how programmes are constructed, I was keen to provide this research with a view from the volunteer sector.  The differences between HR work in the volunteer sector and that of the commercial world are marked in that whilst you are still working with people, the challenges are very different.

“The reason that this paper was attractive was the fact that it was something that affects every care organisation and is not unique to just CrossReach.  I think that the SSSC’s Making Change Happen Award really highlighted that because it spoke to other organisations, the Scottish government and the SSSC.  It said, “Look, we are not just saying here is a problem, because we know there is a big problem, what were are trying to do is do something positive and proactive about it.” There came a point during this reflective learning and research paper where I thought that the wider we can communicate this the better. 

“The challenges are all too familiar to most care organisations, but with heart felt passion and care, knowledge about the sector and the challenges it faces and a drive to do something about it, these challenges are not insurmountable.  It’s not enough to sit back and say ‘these are the problems we have’. Making a difference for your staff and in so doing for the service users too is what it’s about.”

Our grateful thanks to Corinne for sharing something of her career story with us.

Read the reflective paper

Dr Doug Young - co-author of the reflective paper
Dr Doug Young - co-author of the reflective paper

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