Frequently asked questions about volunteering

What is a volunteer?

A volunteer is a person who offers their time, energy and expertise to benefit others in their community without payment or any other financial gain.  Volunteers can only expect to be reimbursed for 'out of pocket' expenses but not all organisations are able to offer this.

Why volunteer?

Many of us have time to spare and feel volunteering could be a constructive use of our time and skills. People who volunteer do so for a number of reasons, they may be looking to enhance their CV by gaining some practical experience, increase their self confidence, maintain or learn new skills which in turn could enhance their employment prospects. They may be retired and bored and not ready to give up their work ethic. They could be students with time to spare. 

What can you get out of volunteering?

  • You can get a sense of satifaction and achievement knowing that you are doing something worthwhile. 
  • Meet new people, make new friends and have new experiences.
  • Get out of the daily routine and have some fun while helping the causes you care about.
  • Seeing life from another person's perspective whilst widening your own knowledge and interests.

 Volunteering benefits the volunteer, the organisation and their service users.

 Who can volunteer?

Everyone can volunteer regardless of gender, race, beliefs, disability, mental or physical health, religion, sexuality, criminal background or age.

Will my State Benefits be affected?

It is wise to check with the Job Centre. You may wish to check with your medical practitioner if you are under their care, before you commit yourself to volunteering.

What if I have a criminal record?

You may be asked for information on criminal record.  Reformed ex-offenders deserve to have an opportunity to volunteer as others in society.  However, your suitability for a particular volunteer role may have to be assessed considering the nature of the previous offence and how long ago it was. Enhanced Criminal Bureau Records Disclosures should always be asked for when dealing with children and vulnerable people. 

Vetting & Barring Scheme

 From 12 October 2010, it will be a legal requirement for individuals applying to work or to volunteer with children and/or vulnerable adults to be registered with the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS). For more information just click on our News Page.

Some things to remember when you are volunteering

  • Volunteering should never become a ‘chore’ or stressful, remember you should always be able to decline a task.
  • If you agree to take on some voluntary work make sure you understand what is expected of you.
  • Do not over commit yourself.  Offer only as much time as you are able to give regularly.
  • You must be reliable – people are depending on you!
  • Make sure you know who is your point of reference within the organisation.
  • If you are unable to keep an arrangement, inform the group with whom you are working, and if necessary, the client.
  • You should never be ‘out of pocket’ although there are a few organisations not able to reimburse expenses.
  • If you are offered expenses always accept them because others may not be in a financial situation to refuse.
  • Some organisations regularly hold team meetings with their volunteers. This is a very useful exercise because it brings people together to get to know one another, share ideas and off-load problems. It is also a way of getting ‘involved’ with what is happening in the group.