Frequently Asked Questions - Volunteering
Click on the relevant questions below.
What can I do as a volunteer?
There are many types of volunteering opportunities for you to choose from. You could decide to use skills you already have or use volunteering to try something new. Many organisations will offer you training as a volunteer, so volunteering is an opportunity to learn new things.
Here are a few examples of volunteering opportunities that you might want to pursue:
- Administration – help an organisation with various office duties
- Media – design leaflets and posters for a charity or run social media
- Events – help plan and organise fundraising events
- IT – show other volunteers and staff how to use computers
- Sports – coach sports at after school clubs
- Mentoring – work with a young person to help them overcome life’s challenges
- Governance – become a charity trustee
- Practical conservation – keeping the environment safe for wildlife
How do I start volunteering?
To get started you can either search online here or call us on 01243 840305 for a chat with one of our friendly volunteering advisors.
What should I think about before I volunteer?
There are all sorts of volunteering opportunities. You need to think about:
- How much time can I or do I want to give. Once a month, once a week or just for a short time. It is up to you but have an idea how much time you can give comfortably without impacting on other things.
- What skills can I give or do I need skills at all? There are opportunities to share your skills or learn new skills, or are perfectly doable or completely different from what you are doing now.
- How far do I want to travel? Do I want to stay local?
- Is there an issue or group that I am really interested in supporting – what are they looking for in a volunteer.
Why should I volunteer?
There are many benefits to volunteering and people volunteer for many reasons. These include:
- Helping your community
- Meeting people and making friends
- Gaining experience to becoming more employable
- Try a change in change in career e.g. working with children/elderly
- Strengthening your CV
What can I expect from the organisation I volunteer for?
It varies a little from organisation to organisation when you make contact:
- It may take a while for them to get back to you as some organisation volunteer coordinators are volunteers themselves. but they should be in touch quickly.
- They may only want an informal chat or to interview it depends on what role you are doing. They should discuss the role with you so you have a clear idea of what you are going to do.
- They should identify someone who will support/look after you in your volunteering role.
- Will by expenses be paid? Although organisations are encouraged to pay reasonable volunteer expenses, such as travel and refreshments, there is no obligation for for groups to do so. You should discuss any expenses that you feel you need to help you volunteer (such as bus fare to travel to your place of volunteering) with the organisation before committing to a volunteering role.
Will volunteering affect my benefits?
Genuine unpaid volunteering should not affect any state benefits you receive. You will need to be available for interview with the Job CentrePlus if asked.
If you are receiving Universal Credit you will still need to provide evidence that you are seeking paid work, available for job interviews. It is best to keep in touch with the Job Centre about your volunteering so that they know you are keeping to the rules and are aware of your situation.
How old do you have to be to volunteer?
There is no legal age limit to volunteering although organisations involving volunteers do tend to have a minimum and maximum age limit because their insurance policy does not cover certain age groups (such as under 16s and over 80s). Often, when a group meets a volunteer who they feel offer something worthwhile, a phone call to their insurers can extend the age limit but this is entirely a decision for the organisation.
Can I volunteer if I have a disability?
Yes, many organisations are fully equipped to deal with a variety of access and support needs.
Can I volunteer with a criminal conviction?
Criminal convictions don’t necessarily mean that you cannot volunteer, but they may limit the type of volunteering you can do. You will need to declare any criminal convictions when you apply to volunteer. If you are working with children, young people or vulnerable adults you will be asked to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check which will inform the organisation of your criminal record.
I have applied for a volunteer role but not heard anything. What should I do?
Often in small charities, the volunteer manage works part time or is a volunteer themselves. This can mean it may take a little longer than you expect to hear back following your application. Please be patient. If you have any queries, please contact us on 01243 840305.
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