Who can Volunteer?
Volunteering is for everyone regardless of your age or background or where you come from. Being employed (full or part-time), a student, unemployed, refugees, retired people or anyone else can volunteer.
Can I volunteer if I’m under 18?
If you are under 18, you can still volunteer in some organisations. If you are under 16, you will need your parent or guardian’s consent to volunteer. Very few organisations take on volunteers under 16 due to insurance issues. If you still want to volunteer you could talk to your school about helping you get into volunteering or with the support of a parent or guardian you could contact local community centres or youth groups to see if they run activities that you could get involved with.
Can I volunteer whilst on benefits?
You can volunteer whilst on benefits and there is no set limit to the numbers of hours you can do. It is always a good idea to discuss your volunteering with your benefits agency so they are in the picture.
You must be able to demonstrate that you can meet the conditions for receiving your benefits. For example on Job Seekers Allowance this means you are actively looking for work, willing to stop volunteering if you get a job (you must be able to start a job within a week of being offered one).
Most benefits advisors are supportive of volunteering, however if they are unsure you can refer them to the Direct.gov volunteering page or the Job Centre Plus leaflet: Volunteering While Getting Benefits .
Can volunteering lead to paid employment?
Volunteering can really help you get a job – but it is not guaranteed and not always as quick as you would like. Have realistic expectations to get the most out volunteering. Volunteering can have huge benefits including keeping your skills fresh and gaining new ones, transforming your CV, increasing your confidence levels, getting references and socialising.
Your volunteering experience will help you to complete job applications and will help you in interviews. Think about what you want to get out of volunteering, it will help you to identify what roles you will be interested in. This could be a particular skill or experience.
Can family and friends volunteer together?
Yes but the choice of roles will not be as varied. This is because organisations often are looking to fill one volunteer place. Some volunteering can be done in groups and two or more people can join in together.
Can I volunteer if I have a criminal conviction?
Many people with criminal convictions do volunteer. It depends on the nature of your conviction, how recent it was and the type of volunteering role you are interested in as well as the organisation. It is always best to be honest about any prior criminal convictions.
Do I need qualifications or particular skills?
It will depend on the role. If a skill or qualification is needed this should be made clear in the volunteering role description. Training should be provided to enable you to do the voluntary role. The level of training will again depend on the role.
What kind of roles are available?
The range of volunteering opportunities is vast – there is something for everyone. Roles include befriending, administration, fundraising, business mentoring, sports coaching, gardening and much more. Most roles involve 3-6 hours a week, occasionally a role might involve two or more days a week.
How often do the roles change?
Roles are being filled all the time and new ones being registered. So if you can’t find a role your interested in today it’s worth checking our self-search facility regularly, as new roles are constantly being registered with us.
Can I speak to a person?
Volunteer Connect is a self-search system, you can contact organisations advertising roles directly if you want to find out more about a specific role. In addition face-to-face, email and telephone volunteering advice tailored to suit your needs is delivered across North East Lincolnshire by our local partner agencies; see our Sector Support Page for direct links to these.
What happens when I speak to someone?
Volunteer support providers will ask you some key questions to help them find roles that are hopefully to your liking. The questions could include: what kind of roles are you interested in? What would you like to give or gain from volunteering? When are you available? Only you can tell them what kind of activities you might enjoy so advisors will not pressure you into taking on a role.
What happens when I have identified a volunteer role I like?
Once you have identified a role that you like, register on Volunteer Connect. You can contact the organisation offering the role via the system or you can call them in your own time. You will be given more information about the role and details of the application process from the organisation.
How soon will I be able to start volunteering?
This all depends on the organisation’s recruitment process and the type of volunteering role you are interested in. For example some roles are one-off such as fundraising events or some environmental opportunities like gardening days or beach clean ups.
How do I start volunteering?
Again this depends on the organisation’s recruitment process and the role. Generally the organisation will ask you to attend an informal chat or interview to discuss the role and the tasks involved. They may also send you a pack or a simple application form. You may be required to provide referees. If you will be working with young people or vulnerable adults you will need to have a DBS check (formally CRB). This can take about four weeks.
What will happen when I start volunteering?
You will be welcomed by the organisation and you will go through an induction (where you will learn about the organisation, its people and day to day activities). Training will be given about the role you will be carrying out – this is one of the benefits of volunteering.
Can I leave if I don’t like it?
If for any reason you don’t like the volunteer role, you are under no obligation to stay and can leave. It is always worth talking to someone before leaving as it may be possible to resolve any issues or concerns you have, which might mean you no longer want to leave. If you’re experiencing a problem others might be too; by talking about it you might improve the situation for everyone.
You should talk to the volunteer co-ordinator (if there is one) or the person in the organisation responsible for you. If you feel that you can’t or there is something seriously wrong or you are being treated badly it is worth checking if the organisation has a complaints procedure. If you would like advice or support with raising issues that concern you, please seek support see our Sector Support Page for direct links to help agencies.
Who can use North East Lincolnshire Volunteer Connect?
People looking for volunteer roles as well as organisations that are looking to recruit volunteers can use Volunteer Connect. We work with not-for-profit organisations whose work benefits local communities. This includes community groups, charities, statutory bodies and social enterprises.
Is there anything else important I should know?
Most organisations are good at letting us know when a role has been filled. There are some occasions when they don’t – if this happens please let us know.
Some organisations have few staff and a shortage of resources and can sometimes be slow to respond to volunteer enquiries or applications. If this happens to you, we suggest you give them a week and contact them again. They will usually state how long it will take them to get back to you in the role advertisement.
What are my rights as a volunteer?
It is best practice for organisations involving volunteers to provide:
- an induction and relevant training
- travel expenses
- support and supervision
- safe working conditions
- insurance cover
- access to a complaints procedure
Volunteers should also be treated in accordance with the organisation’s equal opportunities policy
What are my responsibilities as a volunteer?
As a volunteer you will work within the organisation’s policies and procedures (these will be explained to you). You will also need to work within the boundaries of the volunteering role and maintain confidentiality as required. If you experience any problems you should inform the person who manages the volunteers.
Where can I find further reading about volunteering?
There are many websites online where you can find out about volunteering type ‘volunteering UK’ into a search engine and you will find a whole host of UK sites offering information about volunteering in the UK and abroad.