Volunteering means giving your time freely in order to help others or benefit the local community.
There are allsorts of different volunteering roles available, for example:
Art, administration, befriending, caring, campaigning, catering, driving, drama, foodbanks, fundraising, environmental work, gardening, healthcare, retail, supporting children & families, youth work, walking and exercise groups.
Volunteers get involved in all aspects of community life. They are involved as befrienders, sports coaches, as fundraisers, retail, environmental, as magistrates and trustees, guides and scouts…the list is endless and there is something for everyone.
Opportunities range from formal volunteering that involves a regular weekly commitment, to informal volunteering where you can dip into different roles and activities linked to one-off community events, intensive projects, for example producing a sensory garden in a week, or even one to one volunteer exchanges through the time bank.
If you want to find out about the different volunteering opportunities you can ring us or pop in for a chat. Alternatively you can have a look at the latest opportunities posted on our website below or go to the regional Do It volunteering website at www.do-it.org
Volunteering is not just about giving, and alongside the satisfaction of making a difference in the community, there are many personal benefits to volunteering your time. People volunteer for many different reasons particularly to meet new people, to have fun or to help gain experience to move into paid employment. Volunteering can really help your CV to stand out.
Volunteering should be fun so have a think about what you enjoy doing; how much time you have to spare; and what you want to get out of your volunteering.
Think about the following:
It is important to find out as much as you can about the role and the organisation before you commit. Also be realistic about the time and energy you have to give. You might want to ask the following questions about the volunteering opportunity to help you to decide:
Yes – there are opportunities to volunteer that do not require you to be available during the day on Monday – Friday. Organisations such as Childline or The Samaritans, and places that offer services such as befriending, campaigning, conservation and sports all take place during the weekend.
This is down to you and how much time you want to commit. You can volunteer as a regular commitment or register to get involved with one-off projects. There are volunteering opportunities at evenings and weekends too, depending on what you want to do. How much time you can offer can help you decide on the volunteering opportunity most suitable for you.
Organisations will ask you to come in for a chat about the role and to complete a registration form. For roles with more responsibility, or for those supporting vulnerable adults or children, this will be more formal and include a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service).
Whatever the opportunity will give you an opportunity to discuss the role and to make sure it is right for you. Make sure you ask questions about anything you are uncertain about including:
You will of course get the training and support to do the role. The amount of additional training depends on the role; some organisations and roles require substantial training for example at The Samaritans, befriending services or CAB advisors.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to improve your confidence and to keep your skills up-to-date. Employers always look favourably on volunteering, recognising the important skills it offers: teamwork, customer care skills, flexibility and commitment. It also help you stand out, employers are looking for people who can bring a little extra to the role. Always remember to include it on you CV.
Sometimes the volunteering role is not what you expected, or perhaps your circumstances have changed. Please talk to the manager of the project if you have any concerns or would like to change role. If it is something more serious, ask to see their grievance procedure. The Bureau can also offer support.
Still not right for you?
Make an appointment at The Bureau to find out about other volunteering opportunities… there will be one suitable for you!
The Job Centre and other work place providers recognise that volunteering is a great way to keep you work ready; just make sure you keep them informed. The benefits regulations are clear that you can volunteer and still claim benefits. You should always keep your advisor informed, and follow all regulations and requirements.
Yes, you can. Most organisations cover your out-of-pocket expenses that arise from volunteering. Sadly, not all organisation pay expenses. This could be because they don’t have enough funds. Before starting your volunteering, ask about expenses.
You may be asked by the organisation you are volunteering with for information on your criminal record. Voluntary organisations will run a Criminal Records check on volunteers working with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults. Your suitability for a particular voluntary role may have to be assessed considering the nature of any previous offence and how long ago it was committed. The Disclosure and Barring Service has issued a list of ‘considerations’ to take into account:
The circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation offered by the applicant.
If you have a criminal record you can still volunteer in most roles, depending on your offences. You might need a Disclosure and Barring Service check also called a DBS check if you want to volunteer with children or vulnerable adults.
So, what are you waiting for?