Frequently Asked Questions
- I’m on welfare benefits, can I volunteer?
- Do I need to have a Disclosure check?
- Is there extra support available?
- Will I get expenses?
- Can refugees and people seeking asylum volunteer?
- How can I use my particular skills?
- What should I expect as a volunteer?
- I’ve applied – what happens next?
- Do I have rights as a volunteer?
- Who can I complain to?
I’m on welfare benefits, can I volunteer?
Yes you can. People receiving Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance are entitled to volunteer without losing their benefits because the Department for Work and Pensions believes that volunteering can improve your employability. There are some important rules though, which potential volunteers should follow before going ahead with their voluntary work.
Do I need to have a Disclosure check?
About half of all opportunities available via the Volunteer Centre don’t require criminal record disclosure. If, however, you are going to be in contact with children or supporting ‘vulnerable’ adults, the organisation you are looking to offer your services may have a legal obligation to conduct a disclosures application on you. This is undertaken to ensure that you do not have any impediments or previous convictions that would make you unsuitable for working alongside children or vulnerable adults which could put them at risk. If you have a criminal record, this may not exclude you from volunteering. If you do disclose convictions you will likely be given a opportunity to explain the circumstances. Most convictions do not automatically exclude people from volunteering.
Is there extra support available?
If you are not sure about what you would like to do, or if you lack confidence, have a disability, illness or literacy need that means you’ll require some extra support in your volunteering then see our Guidance and Support page to assist you in finding the right opportunity. Support given to volunteers varies greatly across the voluntary sector and the Volunteer Centre can help in overcoming barriers to make your volunteering experience rewarding.
Will I get expenses?
Most organisations are keen to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses to volunteers and will do this appropriately. Some choose not to and others would like to but cannot afford it, thereby creating a barrier for people unable to meet the costs from their own pocket. Every opportunity that we’ve listed online indicates whether expenses are paid or not.
Can refugees and people seeking asylum volunteer?
Yes they can. The UK Border Agency recognises volunteering as a purposeful activity and will not prevent people from volunteering. In fact, volunteering is a great way to integrate into a community and for improving spoken English. More details are on “I’m a refugee/seeking asylum“.
How can I use my particular skills?
If you have a specialist skill, and can’t find any opportunities that need it, then email firstname.lastname@example.org We can promote your talents to over 100s of organisations through our monthly ebulletin and blog. Skills offered have included photography, finance, marketing, IT, languages, art, therapies and business.
What should I expect as a volunteer?
The experience will vary for every opportunity/role and for every group/organisation that you may help, but you should expect:
- An induction where you are introduced to the opportunity/role and the organisation, its procedures, and to colleagues. Also a health and safety brief, remit of your role, and how expenses are paid.
- A named contact who you can go to with any problems or queries.
- Initial training in order to be able to carry out your role. This can vary from an hour to several months.
- Ongoing support to provide you with development opportunities and to sustain your skills, motivation and interest in the organisation.
I’ve applied – what happens next?
You should hear from the opportunity provider in the next few days but some can take longer. If you hear nothing from them after the individual opportunity stated response time then contact us and we will follow it up for you. You may then be asked to visit for a chat/interview; complete an application form/references/disclosure check; wait for the next training intake or start tomorrow! Selections methods are varied but you should be kept in the loop at all stages.
Do I have rights as a volunteer?
Volunteers don’t have a legal status in the same way that paid workers do in the UK. Volunteers are not covered by employment law and therefore do not have formal rights to redress in an Employment Tribunal. This means that volunteers don’t have the right to have an organisation follow proper investigative procedures when things go wrong, and they don’t have the right to appeal a decision made by the organisation. You have the right to complain or walk away, but we’d encourage you to complain to give the organisation the chance to investigate and do their best for their volunteers.
Who can I complain to?
If you have an issue, concern or problem that relates to the governance of the organisation, health and safety, data protection or harassment, then there are some external agencies that may be able to help. It should also be noted that whilst volunteers are not covered by employment legislation, they are covered by some other types of legislation. It is recommended that complaints or problems should initially be discussed between a volunteer and their supervisor or line manager through an ad hoc discussion or in a supervision meeting. If things go wrong, Volunteer Centre Glasgow may be able to intervene and help to suggest possible solutions to the issue or problem.