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To ask a lady to stop volunteering?

(307 Posts)
Mumofone1862 Tue 15-Oct-19 09:11:50

I run a non profit playgroup and for the past month I have had a new volunteer.

There are a few issues- on several occasions I have been talking to mums about something they have asked me about and the woman cuts in to tell a story about herself and it's like she is trying to cut the mum out of the conversation and just talk to me.

As volunteers the main thing is to just welcome new mums and make sure they are happy ect. But two mums have come to me because she doesn't listen when they ask her not to take their children or tell them what to do with their child.

This is the same with my child, he cries whenever she comes near him as he knows she will pick him up. I told her atleaat 4 times last week not to pick him up but she doesn't listen. In the end it means I have to carry him around as he is scared which makes running a group alot harder.

One woman has stopped coming as the volunteer is so 'in your face', you can politely end a conversation and walk away and she will follow you.

I set up a playgroup as I hated being left out at playgroups and by following me around and talking over the mums it isn't a great environment.

I understand she probably just wants to be my friend but I want to talk to everyone and as volunteers we should be talking to different people to help everyone feel welcome.

She doesn't help set up or put away, her idea of helping is looking after my son, but he honestly was better before she came. I have politely said multiple times for her to not go near my son. I explained he is a mummy's boy and doesn't like strangers so is better left alone or with me but she ignores me as though she knows best.

She is in her late 60's and has said she is lonley as her child has grown up, but the last two weeks I've barely made enough to run the group whereas before her I was doubling the money and we were able to do really fun crafts and have lots of fruit for the children rather than just bananas!

The fact multiple people have come to me makes me think more people think the same but are being polite.

Should I ask her to leave? My husband said to ask her to do kitchen duties (tea/coffee ect) but I don't know how I would go about it as I already have a specific volunteer to make drinks who is happy as they are and it would be obvious I was trying to push her out? I could just be honest but she seems very emotional (e.g. almost crying when my son doesn't want her to hold him)

NoSauce Tue 15-Oct-19 09:17:00

Sit her down and explain to her the things that you’ve written here and how they must stop if she’s to carry on volunteering. I would at least give her a chance. I understand how her behaviour must be annoying and off putting and it can’t carry on though.

But at least give her the chance to correct it.

Orangeblossom78 Tue 15-Oct-19 09:20:35

That sounds difficult. may e you could chat as mentioned and give her another job such as collecting the money, for example of making a snack..or or helping cut out stuff for sounds like they want to be with the children though not help in other ways.

theruffles Tue 15-Oct-19 09:23:55

I think you should explain to her kindly the issues you've been having with the way she's approaching her role and make a few suggestions that might help. Give her a chance to put it right - she may just be a little OTT because it's been a while since she was last around mums and young children.

AmIThough Tue 15-Oct-19 09:24:48

I'd normally agree with @NoSauce but as you've asked her 4 times not to interact with your child in a certain way and she's still choosing to ignore you, I don't really think talking is going to work.

I don't think you'd be unreasonable to thank her for her time but let her know it's not necessary for her to volunteer anymore.

WaterSheep Tue 15-Oct-19 09:26:57

It's only been a month, your takings are down, people are leaving and already you're getting annoyed at her behaviour. Being subtle hasn't worked so I think you now need to be more direct. I would sit her down and explain that unless her behaviour changes, and state what it is you want her to change, then she won't be welcome to help at the group.

Mrsjayy Tue 15-Oct-19 09:27:01

You need to do a training day and put in place dos and don'ts she probably doesn't realise the parents don't like some of her ways if she still does the butting in and lifting off children then you might need to be more direct.

Sicario Tue 15-Oct-19 09:27:38

Sorry. I'd say get rid. People don't change.

Not sure how best to do that with minimal upset. Perhaps thank her for her time and say she's not needed any more. And if she won't listen to that, then you'll have to be a bit blunter and say that she has upset some of the mothers and children and she might be better to volunteer her valuable time elsewhere.

Vampyress Tue 15-Oct-19 09:27:43

I agree with the first poster about a chat, I had an issue with an older worker at my childrens nursery as she was quite pushy and made me feel uncomfortable as she wouldn't accept mine nor the doctors conclusions regarding my youngest's teething making him snotty. It got so bad that I dreaded collecting my sons so I spoke to the room manager. Ironically after the chat she and I get along extremely well now and will casually chat when collecting the boys and the original issues have faded so it's worth a try as I am sure she was just trying to be helpful too but crossed into overbearing.

She certainly can't go on making mums feel uncomfortable or your son and if she doesn't take the feedback on board then you would certainly not be anywhere close to unreasonable in asking her not to volunteer anymore, parents need to feel safe and heard in a playgroup xxx

limpylegs Tue 15-Oct-19 09:28:27

If it has been spoken about multiple times already and you have asked her not to interact with your son I would predict she isn't going to change.
Do everyone a favour and tell her that she isn't needed anymore. Nip it in the bud. Enough of the subtle hints that obviously aren't working.

billy1966 Tue 15-Oct-19 09:29:59

OP, your group wasn't set up to facilitate women in their late 60's whose children have left home, was it?

You have asked her politely to not pick up your son.

She is turning off the section of people for which the group was set up.

Apologies if this is harsh but I would be done.

She needs to be told that her repeatedly ignoring your requests is not acceptable and that she is no longer welcome.

As I've grown older, I have developed a completely zero tolerance of people who refuse to not do something that upsets others when they have been asked politely.

Absolutely zero tolerance.

Your group sounds like a great resource for mother's, why should this women ruin it for everyone.

This is her problem, not yours.

Tell her plainly she is not welcome after upsetting others.

Get the word out that she will no longer be attending.

The alternative is that you shut the group down because of this one person.

Your choice.

NoSauce Tue 15-Oct-19 09:30:19

I think if it’s done in a formal way eg sat down alone with notes on her behaviour to cast your eyes on and made abundantly clear if she carries on then she must leave that would be kinder than just dropping her.

She may not change but at least you will have tried and be certain then you’ve made the right decision.

What was it about her you liked enough to take her on OP?

Anniegetyourgun Tue 15-Oct-19 09:31:11

I think she's chosen the wrong sort of organisation to volunteer for. It doesn't seem as though she's good at getting on with other people's children - or their mums for that matter! It's unfortunate and of course you don't want to be unkind, but your playgroup is going to fold at this rate, which isn't doing anyone any good, least of all this unsuitable volunteer. If nothing else, put your son first - her presence is upsetting him, and it's your job as a mother to avoid that very thing.

Difficult to know how to broach it, and there may be tears. It's a wretched thing to have to do but really, you are a playgroup, not a support group for lonely older people. If you can combine the two, great, but in this case it just ain't working. She's gotta go sad

BravoStrong Tue 15-Oct-19 09:34:11


As she’s an older woman and has said she’s lonely, I wonder if an option might be to say she can’t come to the playgroup anymore as she’s upsetting the children (I’m sure you can find a nicer way of putting it!) but maybe she’d like to come round to yours for a cup of tea? Make a cake, have the baby in a high chair and have a coffee morning with her once a week or something.

@AmIThough I think the problem with saying it’s not necessary is that she’ll just say it’s no trouble and continue coming.

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff Tue 15-Oct-19 09:36:14

OP I would sit her down and say

"It is really hard for me to say this as I hate hurting people's feelings but I have had some complaints about some things you do. I need you to change a few things or I will have to ask you to stop volunteering here. Please can you listen if people ask you not to pick up their children as some children don't like it. And please can you focus on getting the mums who come here to talk, with you and each other. I value your help a lot so I hope we can work this out."

That is plain, factual, takes account of her feelings and gives her a clear chance to put the main two things right.

I will add two things though - from a mum's POV, people like this are really off putting. When my DTs were small, I had a volunteer at a baby group decide I was 'struggling' and use my private mobile to message me repeatedly offering to refer me to HomeStart. I stopped going to that group.

Also, as a manager, people will rein in their behaviours generally when spoken to - but they also generally slip back and you need to keep watching all the time. It is emotionally exhausting but it's part of managing!

VictoriaBun Tue 15-Oct-19 09:37:36

" Hello ( insert name )
I'd like us to review the time you have been here with us as a few concerns have been bought to our attention.
Firstly how do you think the last (xx weeks )have gone ?
Thank you for you input , we have observed that you continue to do xxxxx
despite being on several occasions asked not to do this and I have had a few mum stop bringing their little ones because of this .
I'm afraid ( name) that we cannot continue this way and would like you to reconsider your role here for the good of the group.
( Name) may say I'll try / will stop doing xxx in the future. You say I'm sorry but it's gone further than that and I'd like this to be your last day but understand if you'd prefer not to stay. Once more I'd like to thank for for thinking of us when volunteering "

Mrsjayy Tue 15-Oct-19 09:37:36

Could you adjust her hours say can you do 10 to 11 then she isn't around for set up put away or do you do snacks get her to do that give her a job delegate an area so she is busy.

Mumofone1862 Tue 15-Oct-19 09:39:07

I feel like I am not that subtle, the last time I said something along the lines of 'please don't pick him up as it keeps upsetting him, he only likes to be picked up by me'.

I do agree I haven't actually told her about talking over mums and following me. I think my worry is that she really pushes what I should do with my son, I think if I tell her we should 'work the room' and talk to other people she will end up saying things to other mums I won't catch, and as we have a few mums with newborns I don't want to risk her saying something that might stick with them?

She just doesn't seem to be able to read facial expressions of a room to see when she is being innapropriate. We had a woman nearly crying about an issue she was having and while I comforted her the volunteer came over and spoke about her experience which was 'worse'.

AmIThough Tue 15-Oct-19 09:39:37

@BravoStrong I did think that too. I just couldn't think of a way that's to the point but not mean and was hoping OP has a better way with words grin

mummmy2017 Tue 15-Oct-19 09:40:24

Tell her the truth.
That the way she acts with the children and the mums is not working.
That regretfully you think she is not a good fit and you think she needs to find somewhere else to volunteer.

fernandoanddenise Tue 15-Oct-19 09:40:48

You need to give her a way to leave with dignity.
The first option is to be absolutely clear with no room for misunderstanding that “some of the mums have complained about her and that as it’s a mother and baby group - however unfair it may seem- they must take priority as you set it up to deal with vulnerable mothers”
Or - lie and say the council have told her you’re over the quota for volunteers who aren’t also members with children so for health and safety compliance she must move on. Then bring in a cake to sat ‘goodbye!’ And if you feel really bad help her find other volunteer roles in another group.

Zaphodsotherhead Tue 15-Oct-19 09:40:57

Does she have some form of social disorder? I wonder if some kind soul has suggested she volunteer at a playgroup because she can't cause as much upset there as she maybe has in the past in a shop or at groups of adults. Did you pick up any references that were offered and what did they say about her?

Because it sounds as though this may be more deeply rooted than just 'not listening'. Like she wants to play babies and that's more important that what the mothers want for their children?

I don't think telling her will help. I suspect she will 'yes, yes, of course, anything you say' and then carry on doing what she's doing. I'd tell her, quite openly, that you don't think she's suited to working with small children and maybe she'd be better volunteeering (or getting paid work) in a different sector, perhaps with adults.

miaCara Tue 15-Oct-19 09:41:03

I know her situation isnt your problem but I dont think you can change her approach to others now and you definitely need to let her go.
Before you approach her could you find an alternative place she could volunteer? Maybe the church lunch club or foodbank where there may well be lonely people ready for a chat.
Mind you she does come across as a self centered person who might not fit into either of these scenarios either as she doesnt seem to want a chat but to talk about herself all of the time - very boring and dispiriting to have to listen to.

But she has to go and you can get back to your happy thriving group.

SarahAndQuack Tue 15-Oct-19 09:44:40

To be perfectly honest, she sounds like an illustration of the fact that some people are lonely because they are not very nice.

Some of what you mention sounds unfortunate or accidental, but telling a person nearly crying your experience is worse? That's just plain nasty.

Mrsjayy Tue 15-Oct-19 09:44:59

Urgh it sounds a nightmare you are might have to say it isn't working out or maybe put her in charge of fundraising get her to organise something to raise funds so she is still helping out but not upsetting anybody.

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