Nacoa training – Model of Good Practice

New Research Describes Volunteer Training as a “Model of Good Practice”

A systematic review conducted by Dr Anna-Marie Barron finds that The Nacoa Volunteer Foundation Programme provides a training and service “greater” than the sum of its parts.

New research conducted by Research specialist Dr Anne-Marie Barron has assessed the “voluntary training and its contribution to the aims of Nacoa”. She has found that Nacoa produces outstanding opportunities for its volunteers and “created a community which is greater than the active volunteers delivering its current operational activities”.

In systematically reviewing experiences from volunteers old and new, Dr Barron has found that the Nacoa Foundation Training Programme is “very helpful” in preparing volunteers for their time working with Nacoa as Helpline Counsellors. She describes the professional structuring of the charity’s training programme as a “model of good practice” and has established that volunteers find “Nacoa has contributed to their own lives” as professionals and individuals.

The Nacoa Foundation Programmes is the standard training for potential volunteer helpline counsellors. It offers a wide reaching overview of the issues facing children with parents suffering with alcohol problems, and gives professional training in approaching issues faced by helpline callers.

The programme incorporates specialist talks given by industry leading researchers and professionals, structured over a period of five weeks, led by Nacoa Helpline Supervisor, Martin Williams. Following completion of this initial training, continuous support is given to volunteers through induction sessions and on-going personal development and training.

Dr Barron says that “It is clear that Nacoa has developed a people focussed model of volunteering that suits its objectives, which is to work closely to promote the needs of an extremely vulnerable group of individuals”.

As well as volunteers reporting that the volunteer training has helped develop their personal and professional experience and skills, Nacoa has created a “community of people who share common goals” in helping children affected by a parent’s drinking. This is reflected by many of Nacoa’s long-standing volunteers celebrated at the annual Nacoa Volunteer Awards Evening, where contributions are celebrated and commemorated through awards and commendations for volunteers both long-standing and new.

While Nacoa’s Training Programme operates with a very small budget, received entirely from voluntary donations, Dr Barron’s findings show the high value and commitment Nacoa offers its volunteers. Her findings suggest that “At the current time there appears to be an equilibrium in the organisation, where the different requirements of staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders are combined in such a way as to produce an extremely effective body which exists on extremely limited funds, but has the support of a large number of people, and the gratitude of countless more”.

Dr Barron’s research was inspired by her four years as a helpline volunteer. She is a Director of Leigh and Barron Consulting Limited, and her career boasts twenty years’ experience in sector analysis and research consultancy. Her in-depth structural review of Nacoa has given an overview of things volunteers think and feel about the Nacoa, with whom they commit their time and energy for the benefit of such a vulnerable section of society.

This vital research into the lifeblood of Nacoa, its volunteers, is elucidated by Dr Barron’s list below:

  • Volunteers contribute to the work and development of Nacoa and are proud of this.
  • Volunteers are brought together by a better and shared understanding of the issues around alcohol and how individuals and families deal with this.
  • Volunteers develop capabilities and experiences that improve their skills and promote their life chances.
  • Volunteers increase their self-confidence, well -being and connection with others.
  • Volunteers are keen to ‘spread the word’ about Nacoa and continue to do this even when they have ceased to volunteer in a formal capacity.

If you are interested in volunteering for Nacoa in any capacity, visit the “Get Involved” section of the Nacoa website or contact Martin Williams on 0117 924 8005 and