We are so excited you are looking into our volunteer opportunities! Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you:
PLEASE NOTE: During these difficult times with COVID-19 (coronavirus) all in-person events and meetings are currently being reviewed. We are running an e-recruitment and e-training programme for volunteers: please see Currently Recruiting for information.
Can I volunteer during the pandemic?
Yes. Although you won’t be able to volunteer in-person at the Meeting House until further notice, we do have a number of e-opportunities/volunteer-from-home roles we are currently recruiting for. As long as you can access the internet on a computer/laptop, you can still give back to your community even when self-isolating or social distancing.
Is there an age limit for volunteers?/how old do I need to be?
We will support DoE/student placement/retired people, all are welcome.
Can I choose my own role?
Yes – we have a number of roles available and you can choose which you feel is the best fit for you. At times we may ask you to do other roles as well to help us and to give you a broad experience.
Can I change roles?
Yes – if you would like to try other options we will try our best to arrange a change, subject to role availability.
How much time do I need to put aside to volunteer?
Depending on the role it can be as little as 2 hours per month, through to 6 hours a week. All our role descriptions give an approximate time commitment.
How long do I need to volunteer for?
6 months minimum to get the full benefit of the experience and a reference.
How long does it take before I can start volunteering with you?
Depending on the role and whether a DBS check is required, usually 1-2 months from the interview date to make sure all checks are done and are satisfactory.
Do I have to complete an application form?
Yes – this gives us all the essential details we need to support you. If completing a form will be difficult for you, get in touch and we will do our best to support you.
What do I have to put on my application form?
Tell us about yourself, your experience, interests and any support you may need.
Do I have to have an interview?
Yes – it’s really an informal chat to ensure we understand you and can place you in the right role. We understand this can be scary, but please remember this it’s so we can ensure we are providing you with the best volunteering experience, rather than any kind of assessment of you.
Why do you ask for references?
As we work with vulnerable groups, it’s important we double check you are who you say you are. A reference is also an opportunity to check with someone who knows you better than us to see if they think you are suitable for the role.
Who can be my referee if I haven’t worked before?
Ideally a reference should be from someone you have worked for (either as a volunteer or as an employee) but if this isn’t possible for you you can also ask a teacher/lecturer/tutor, doctor/health/social worker, religious leader, landlord/lady or accountant/lawyer/professional. Remember that a reference shouldn’t be from a relative.
Do I have to do a DBS Check?
This depends on the role and associated legal requirements. If you are working with vulnerable groups, children or adults then this usually means you will need to complete a DBS check. Your volunteer manager will discuss this with you at the interview.
For remote/home working roles NOT in contact with vulnerable groups no check is required.
What if I have never worked or volunteered before?
That’s ok, we understand that – and will try to match you with a role that will help you gain the valuable experience needed to progress to work.
Can I volunteer if I have a criminal record?
This depends on the role and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act requirements. You must disclose relevant convictions on your application or during your interview but depending on the details of the conviction, it may not preclude you from volunteering. Each case is discussed individually and we always operate in line with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Will volunteering affect my benefits?
The following information is taken from the NCVO website. If you need further information please visit their website.
If you are receiving state benefits you are still allowed to volunteer.
However, there are some rules that you need to be aware of to make sure that your volunteering doesn’t have an impact on the benefits you receive.
This guidance aims to help you start volunteering by giving an overview of what you need to know and providing some answers to some of the questions you may have before you start volunteering.
This doesn’t cover every situation and you may have questions about your individual circumstances. If you’re unsure about where you stand in relation to the rules, you can contact your local Volunteer Centre, or you should speak to your job coach or benefits adviser. Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau may also be able to help.
Can I volunteer when I’m receiving state benefits?
People are allowed to volunteer while claiming state benefits, including means-tested benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), incapacity benefit, income support, and employment and support allowance (ESA).
You can volunteer as many hours as you like while you’re getting benefits as long as you keep to the rules for getting them.
What are the rules?
Please see the full rules here: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/volunteering-and-benefits
Can you support my visa application as a volunteer?
Can I volunteer if I am not a citizen?
If you are an asylum seeker/refugee/citizen of EEA/EU and/or already resident in the UK then depending on legal restrictions you are most likely to be able to volunteer. (If you are in doubt, please check with our Volunteer Manager and the UK Border Agency).
If outside EEA/EU you will need to contact the UK Border Agency for advice.
Who pays for my DBS check?
If a DBS check is required for your role with us, we will pay for it. We will NOT pay for a portable DBS check in your name. DBS checks are not transferable.
What expenses do you pay?
Subject to approval reasonable out-of-pocket expenses associated directly with carrying out your role will be reimbursed.
What if I don’t like volunteering, can I just stop?
We would always prefer you to be happy and enjoy your role with us. If you aren’t enjoying volunteering, please tell us, so we can discuss the best way to move forwards. We ask that you give us plenty of warning if you are planning on leaving, so we can find someone else to fill your role. We may be able to change you to a new role which you might enjoy more, however we will never force you to stay.
Please note: we won’t be able to provide a reference if you volunteer less than 6 months with us.
Do I need qualifications to be a volunteer?
No! All we ask is for your enthusiasm, reliability and hard work. You don’t need any qualifications unless you are volunteering in a role that is high-risk or specialist in nature.
Do you give me any qualifications after volunteering?
No. We are not able to give out qualifications. However we will be happy to provide on the role training and a reference for volunteers who are with us for 6 months or more.
What training do I need to do?
All volunteers are required to undergo our induction and any relevant training for the role. This includes Safeguarding, Health and Safety and other mandatory training. You’ll also be required to attend regular refresher training and workshops following induction.
Can I work and volunteer at the same time?
Yes. We have volunteer roles that cover days, evenings and weekends so you can volunteer in your spare time when it suits you or for a specific task or project period.
Can I volunteer remotely/from home?
Some but not all of our roles are home based. Please ask if you would specifically like a home/remote based volunteering role and we’ll let you know what is available.
How does volunteering help my future job prospects?
Volunteering can help you master a new skill, learn something new, build your team working, leadership and prioritising skills among other things. If you have gaps in your skills or knowledge base, volunteering can help fill these. It doesn’t matter whether you learned your skills as a volunteer or paid staff – all employers value competence! We also provide a reference to volunteers with us for 6 months or more, which can help to plug any gaps on your CV.
Will anyone support me when I’m volunteering?
Yes we have a dedicated Volunteer Manager and a great team of staff who are supportive and will help you develop.
What if I’m nervous about volunteering?
That’s understandable. It can be daunting trying something new. We have a range of volunteer opportunities to suit all needs and you will not be expected to do anything without training or support.