Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve listed some of the most frequently asked questions here, to help you get a better idea about volunteering.
How soon will I be able to start volunteering?
This depends on the recruitment process. However, you can sometimes dip into one-off fundraising days & events, gardening days and some environmental roles.
What will happen when I start volunteering?
You will be welcomed by the organisations and will go through induction (learning all about the organisation, its people and day to day activities). You will be trained – this is one of the great benefits of volunteering.
Is there anything else important that I should know?
Most organisations are very good at letting us know when a role has been filled. There are occasions when they don’t – if this happens to you please come back and see us. Sometimes organisations can be slow to respond to your inquiry or application. In our experience this usually results from having few staff (or none) and a shortage of time and resources. If this happens to you, we suggest give them a week and contact them again. You can always come back and see us again too.
How do I start volunteering?
The recruitment process depends on the role and the tasks it involves:
The organisation will ask you to attend an informal chat or an interview
They’ll send you a pack including an application form (usually a simple form)
You will usually have to provide two referees
If you’ll be working with young people or vulnerable adults – you’ll need to have a DBS check (formerly CRB). This can take about four weeks
What can volunteers do?
Volunteers can do almost anything! We have over 350 volunteering roles, such as befriending disabled young people, helping with office and reception work, giving emotional
support to drug and alcohol users, or helping to look after your local nature reserve.
Roles vary in terms of time commitment. You could get involved in one-off events or take on a regular weekly commitment. Most organisations don’t ask for much more than 2-3 hours a week.
I want to volunteer! What do I do next?
Before choosing a volunteering role, it is a good idea to think about the following: which
type of role you would like to perform, what type of organisation you would like to volunteer with, and how much time you are realistically able to offer.
To find current volunteering opportunities you can search our online database of volunteering opportunities.
Once you find something you are interested in, you will need to register a few details and then we will email you further information about the role. If you are still interested, then it is up to you to contact the organisation. If you are having difficulty finding a volunteer role, then please feel free to drop in to our office, which is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 10am – 4pm.
I’m working full-time. Will I still be able to volunteer?
Yes, there are many opportunities to volunteer that do not require you to be available Monday to Friday during the day. Don’t be put off volunteering because you work full-time. Many organisations would love to find volunteers that are able to volunteer evenings, nights and/or weekends.
Some examples of out-of-office-hours volunteering include campaigning, manning helplines (e.g. the Samaritans and others), working with homeless people, befriending, environmental and sports activities.
It is important, however, to check with any organisation you are interested in volunteering for, what time commitment they have in mind. You will need to work out how many hours you will volunteer for, and how long you wish to volunteer for.
How much time do I need to volunteer for?
This is really up to you. You can find volunteering that only takes an hour a month –
there is a trend towards short-term volunteering, requiring minimal commitment. Having said that, the less time you have, the harder it can be to find something that is right for you.
While much volunteering takes place within office hours, you can also volunteer in the evenings and at weekends, depending on what you want to do.
Can I be paid something to cover my expenses?
Yes, you can. It’s a good idea for organisations to cover any extra expenses that may arise from your time volunteering. This can include such things as the cost of travelling to the location of your volunteering and any meals taken while volunteering.
Unfortunately not all organisations do pay expenses. This could be because they do not have enough funds or simply because they do not realise that volunteers should be paid expenses. It is worth asking about an organisation’s expenses policy, before you commit to volunteering with them.
Do I need to have qualifications?
Usually you don’t. Some very skilled work may demand qualifications, but usually
organisations offer training to enable you to do the work.
Can I get qualifications whilst volunteering?
It’s becoming more common for organisations to offer volunteers qualifications such as an NVQ, but it is still unusual. You may well learn a lot and gain valuable experience, skills and a reference though.
Can I leave if I don’t like it?
Yes, of course. You are under no obligation to keep volunteering for an organisation if you are unhappy there.
Having said that, it is always worth talking to somebody about any problems you are having, before deciding to leave. This could be your volunteer co-ordinator (if there is one), your supervisor or simply someone who you have got on well with in the organisation. You can then discuss with them why you feel unhappy and what you feel would improve your time as a volunteer in the organisation.
If you feel that something is seriously wrong or someone is treating you badly it is also worth checking whether your organisation has a complaints procedure.