The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore and describe the training needs of ten community volunteers from the STAR project in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan area in the Eastern Cape. The STAR project focuses on the manner in which teachers can support resilience in high-risk communities. The project, involves a strengths-based intervention. Based on the outcome of the STAR project, the need arose to transfer existing knowledge and skills to community volunteers in their own and a neighbouring school. The theoretical framework that was employed in this study was the asset-based approach.
I followed a qualitative research approach, guided by an interpretivist epistemology. I purposefully selected ten community volunteers who were part of the STAR project, as participants. The data were collected though face to face semi-structured individual interviews with two of the participants and a focus group discussion with the remaining eight participants. The data-collection process assisted in exploring the training needs of the participants. In addition to the individual interviews and the focus group discussion, I employed field notes and audio recordings in the data-collection process.
Five main themes emerged from the data, along with twelve subthemes. The five main themes included the following: challenges community volunteers face, responsibilities of a community volunteer, motivations for becoming a community volunteer, the training needs of community volunteers, and how community volunteers cope with the challenges they face when performing their duties. Based on the findings of the study, it is suggested that the training needs of the volunteers, namely to become computer literate, to communicate better, to understand how to counsel members of their communities and the children they work with in their schools, emanate from an overarching training need to be able to cope with the adverse circumstances community volunteers experience as a result of poverty. In essence, this study suggests that the STAR volunteers need training on how to cope with poverty.