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Good Practice Guide Information for organisations working with volunteers

Contents Getting Started


Do You Actually Need Volunteers? You Have Decided You Want Volunteers– What Next? Why Have A Volunteer Policy? Writing A Volunteer Policy Developing A Volunteer Agreement Role Descriptions Writing an Effective Role Description Why Not Call It A Job Description? Volunteer Handbook

How To Find Your Volunteers What Your Organisation Does How Volunteers Make A Difference Volunteer Motivations Making It Easy How to Get Your Message Across Print Talks Events Local Media Social Networking and Online Communities General Media Tips Diversity In Recruitment Disabled People Young People Older People People from Minority Ethnic Groups Unemployed People


7 7 7 8 9 10 10 11 11

13 13 13 13 14 14 14 15 15 15 15 16 16 16 16 17 17 17


Initial Enquiries Application Forms Interviews References Screening The Need to Screen Convictions Disclosures Disclosure Information Handling of Disclosures Vetting and Barring ISA and CRB Code of Practice for Disclosures

19 20 20 21 22 22 22 23 23 24 24 25 26

Who Is Allowed To Volunteer?


Volunteers From Overseas Ex-Offenders Children Vulnerable People

27 28 28 29



31 31 32 32 32

Allowable Expenses Mileage Non-Money Benefits Honoraria

Keeping Your Volunteers


Induction Training Supporting Your Volunteers Supervision Other Ways To Keep Your Volunteers Happy

Health and Safety Duty of Care Health and Safety Law Basic Principles of Health and Safety Health and Safety Policy Risk Assessment The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Registering Your Organisation’s Activities First Aid Insurance

Volunteer Drivers

35 36 37 37 38

39 39 39 40 40 40 41 41 41 41


The Driver The Vehicle Insurance Training Breaks Minibus Driving Reimbursement of Expenses Tax

45 45 45 46 46 46 46 46

Volunteering and Benefits


Job Seekers Allowance Income Support Incapacity Benefit Employment Support Allowance Carer’s Allowance Disability Living Allowance Housing Benefit and Council Tax Pension Credit Working Tax Credit Good Practice

47 47 47 47 47 47 47 47 47 48


49 - First Steps - Formal Steps - Suspension - Dismissal

49 49 50 50



Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Appendix 3 Appendix 4 Appendix 5 Appendix 6 Appendix 7 Appendix 8


Helping Volunteers Move On When You Want the Volunteer to Move On Exit Interviews

51 51 51

Sample Volunteer Policy Sample Volunteer Agreement Role Description Template Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form Sample Volunteer Induction Checklist Problem Solving Procedures Risk Assessment Template Sample Volunteer Leaving Form

52 54 55 56 57 59 60 61

The material contained in this book is provided for general purposes only. Although we endeavour to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date, Herefordshire Volunteer Centre accepts no responsibility for loss or misinformation arising from reliance on information contained in this book.


Introduction Commissioned by the Herefordshire Infrastructure Consortium and funded by Capacity Builders, this new edition of the Good Practice Guide has been produced for all those organisations involved, or considering becoming involved, in working with volunteers. It provides basic information on all the main areas of good practice ranging from practical issues, such as insurance, to more complex issues, such as screening and retention. The guide draws on the information and good practice provided by Volunteering England, the national body for volunteering. Herefordshire Voluntary Action hopes you find this guide useful and that it will support the undertakings set out in the Herefordshire Compact Code of Volunteering Practice (2009). Should you require more detailed information or have any queries, problems or issues that are not dealt with in this guide, please contact our Volunteer Centre staff for more information. Angela Legg Volunteering Services Manager Herefordshire Voluntary Action February 2010

Herefordshire Volunteer Centre Herefordshire Voluntary Action Berrows Business Centre, Bath Street, Hereford HR1 2HE Tel: 01432 343932 Email: Charity no:1096451

Company no:4625595

General Contacts and Further Information Volunteering England. The experts on all issues relating to volunteering. Tel information line: 0800 028 3304. Open 10.30am–12.30pm and 2pm-4pm Monday to Friday. Sport England has downloadable resources for volunteers, including documents on the roles of chair, treasurer and secretary. National Council for Voluntary Organisations. The umbrella body for the voluntary sector has a free helpdesk for good practice enquiries. Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9TL. Tel: 020 77136161. Helpdesk: 0800 2798798. Email: Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP. Tel: 020 72095151. Community Matters, 8/9 Upper Street London N1 0PQ. Tel: 020 78377887 or email: Herefordshire Compact Code of Volunteering Practice 2009. Copies available from Herefordshire Voluntary Action or downloadable from Herefordshire_Compact_Volunteering_Code_091102.pdf



GETTING STARTED So your organisation has decided it needs volunteers but if it is to be really successful in recruiting and retaining them, it is very important that you are well prepared. There is no point in running a volunteer programme if you do not really know why you want volunteers, what they will do, how you will support them, or what procedures you have for recruitment, selection and retention.

Do You Actually Need Volunteers? For many groups, involving volunteers is the only way they can carry out their work, but for the larger organisation with paid staff, considering taking on volunteers for the first time must be thought about carefully. The whole organisation, from employees through to the trustees or the management committee, should consider why it wants to involve volunteers, what their role will be in the organisation, what they will bring to it and how they will be treated. Your service users should also be involved in these discussions. Allay any fears they may have that volunteer involvement will lead to a second-rate service by emphasising the unique benefits volunteers bring, namely:


Greater flexibility – volunteers may be prepared to or prefer to work hours that staff may not. This might mean for example increased service delivery, expanded hours of operation or the ability to provide different or new types of services. New or alternative ideas and skills. Increased diversity – volunteers may be different from salaried staff in terms of age, race, social background, income etc. This leads to many more points of view and gives a broader perspective to the organisation. Greater participation by the local community. Research suggests that satisfied volunteers frequently become donors of money and goods as well as supporting special events and fundraising either by themselves or by involving family and friends.

Please be aware that:   

Volunteers should never replace paid workers, nor should they be thought of as a second choice or regarded as temporary workers until more money can be raised and ‘real’ staff recruited. Rather they should be seen as complementing paid work and bringing ‘added value’. Although people are giving their time for free, it should not be seen as an opportunity to dump unpleasant jobs on them! Salaried staff should not feel volunteers threaten their jobs.

You Have Decided You Want Volunteers – What Next? Before you start finding your volunteers, you should bear the following in mind:


Are you clear about what you want your volunteers to do? You may have a core task such as supporting people with physical disabilities to undertake recycling projects. However, you may not have considered involving volunteers in other areas of your project such as marketing, administration, website maintenance etc. Is there someone in the organisation who has the time and skills to be responsible for managing volunteers? You may have to provide that person with training or, if you are taking on a large number of volunteers, you may need to consider having a dedicated volunteer co-ordinator. Being unsalaried does not mean there are no financial implications for your organisation. You will need to budget for out-of-pocket expenses such as reimbursement of travel expenses, equipment and insurance. Volunteers may require space and equipment. It is pointless asking a volunteer to come in to the office every Monday if there is nowhere for them to sit. Are there policies and procedures in place that cover day-to-day situations which crop up? In particular, do you have a volunteer policy, volunteer agreement and role description?


Why Have A Volunteer Policy? A volunteer policy provides the basic framework for a volunteer programme and has a number of advantages:

It gives an overall cohesion to all the various policies and procedures that affect volunteers – recruitment, expenses, health and safety and so on.

It helps define the role of volunteers within the organisation and how they can expect to be treated.

It demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to its volunteer programme and its individual volunteers.

A written policy ensures that decisions are not made on an ad hoc basis and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly.

Volunteers know where they stand and what their rights and responsibilities are. It offers them some security.

Helps to ensure that paid staff and trustees fully understand why volunteers are involved and what role they have within the organisation.

Writing A Volunteer Policy There is no single ideal volunteer policy that ‘fits all’. Each organisation will need a policy that reflects its own needs and services but the following suggestions might assist in formulating one:

Consult with as many people as possible – staff, trustees, volunteers and service users. If people feel that a policy has been imposed on them, it is unlikely to be effective.

Consider whom the policy is aimed at and how it will be distributed. Use clear English – it should not read like a legal or technical document. You may need to provide translations where English is a second language. Use a clear font so that is easily readable by people with sight problems, avoid ornate typefaces, use a sans serif font such as Arial and also use a minimum size of 12-point type.

Keep it as brief as possible. Regard the policy as a statement of intent that refers to other policies where necessary. Provide all the day-to-day procedures and policies in a volunteer handbook.

Some of the key elements you might like to include are: 

Introduction and statement of principles – start with an explanation of what your organisation does and why it involves volunteers in its work. This section should also set out the principles guiding your involvement of volunteers e.g. you will not replace paid staff with volunteers.


Induction and training.


Supervision and support.


Equal opportunities and diversity.

Health and Safety.


Problem Solving Procedures (see Page 49).

Ensure that everyone gets a copy of the policy, even those staff who will not be working or involved with volunteers. Put a copy in induction packs for staff and volunteers. It is a good idea to put a copy on the office notice board as a permanent reminder of the principles of volunteer involvement in the organisation.

Give a copy to your service users. Sometimes people can be worried about accessing services involving volunteers because they may feel volunteers are amateur or untrained. A good volunteer policy helps to show why and how your organisation involves volunteers in its service delivery.

Review the policy regularly to adapt and improve it as the needs of the organisation changes over time.

A sample Volunteer Policy can be found at Appendix 1 (Page 52) to assist you in formulating your own policy.

The Next Stage – Developing A Volunteer Agreement While organisations should be careful to avoid creating a contract of employment with their volunteers, a volunteer agreement helps both the organisation and its volunteers. Agreements set out what the volunteer can expect from the organisation in terms of treatment and support, and what is expected of them. It helps clarify exactly where both volunteer and organisation stand from the outset and helps avoid possible misunderstandings in the future. A sample agreement can be found at Appendix 2 (Page 54). When drawing up an agreement, avoid language that is indicative of employment so that you avoid the potential risk of creating a contract of employment. Terms that are less likely to imply employment are listed below:

Instead of using the term:



reimbursement for out of pocket expenses

Annual Leave

arrangements when you want time off

Sick leave

arrangements when you are ill

Disciplinary procedures

arrangements if there are problems with your work

Grievance procedures

arrangements if you have a complaint or are unhappy

Commitments an organisation might make are:        

To provide a full induction and any training necessary to carry out the volunteer role To provide a named supervisor for the volunteer, with regular supervision/support meetings To treat volunteers in line with its Equality and Diversity policy To reimburse out-of-pocket expenses incurred during volunteering To provide insurance cover for volunteers To implement good Health and Safety practices To provide training to enable the volunteer to undertake their role Meal arrangements

Volunteers might agree to commit to:  

Follow the organisation’s policies and procedures, particularly its Equality and Diversity, Health and Safety and Confidentiality policies. Meet with the mutually agreed time commitments, or give notice if this is not possible.


The notification that the organisation would like if a volunteer leaves.

There is no need for the agreement to be signed – remember it is not intended to be a legal document. While it will not hurt to add a disclaimer to the effect that the agreement is not intended to be legally binding, this is likely to be ignored by an employment tribunal if they consider the actual relationship between the organisations and volunteer to be employment.

Beware! There have been a small number of cases where an individual who was volunteering has been able to prove that they have been working under a contract. As a result, the individual has either been regarded as an “employee” or a “worker”. Employees are entitled to full employment rights. Workers have more limited rights but are covered by anti-discrimination legislation and the National Minimum Wage Act including paid holidays. To avoid this situation you should:

Avoid any hint of obligation (for instance volunteers agreeing to volunteer for the next six months). It is better to talk of hopes and expectations, with the understanding that volunteers are free to come and go as they wish, and that there are no obligations placed upon them. One idea is to suggest that if the volunteers stay in the role for at least a specified time then both they and the organisation will get the most out of the experience.

Ensure that volunteers are reimbursed for actual out of pocket expenses rather than receiving a set amount of money. If you provide training or small thank you gifts, then it should be made clear that no payment for their work or time is intended (see section on Expenses Page 31).

Do not use procedures which would usually be associated with a paid employee, (examples could be using a staff holiday booking form or a sickness/absence form).

What Is The Volunteer Going To Do? Role Descriptions You should give careful consideration to the role you are expecting your volunteers to undertake. Whilst not everything a volunteer is going to do will be scintillating, many will not stay if the role is repetitive and boring with no opportunity to develop. It is worth thinking carefully about the time commitment you are expecting particularly as the greatest barrier to volunteering is time. In a recent survey published by the Cabinet Office of the Third Sector ‘Helping Out: A national survey of volunteering and charitable giving 2007’, 82% of those not volunteering in the last year stated that this was due to lack of spare time while 41% of respondents gave lack of time as the main reason for stopping volunteering. So you might want to divide the role up into shorter time chunks. Although you may consider this rather formal and feel it might put off a potential volunteer, it is advisable to produce a written description of a volunteer’s tasks or roles. Volunteers like to be clear about what is expected of them and a written description will reassure them that you are well organised. It will also indicate what skills and the type of person you are seeking, thereby helping a prospective volunteer to decide more easily whether or not to apply. This will save both of you time. It is also a helpful tool to help structure future supervision and support sessions. A description will also prevent any misunderstandings about the nature of the volunteering. Whilst you may have made it clear in your recruitment campaign that you are seeking to fill a specific role, people will have very different ideas about what a role involves. There may be some tasks that do not justify a full role description, such as when volunteers help with a one-off task, like stewarding at a festival. However you will still need to think about how to pass on instructions and guidelines to such volunteers.

Writing An Effective Role Description Leave room for flexibility – by careful wording you may find there are ways of involving people who do not have all the skills you are seeking, for example, you may have a training budget which could provide


for someone with limited IT skills to learn and then assist with computer work. If a volunteer is likely to need support then consider taking on another volunteer to support them. An example role description template is set out in Appendix 3 (Page 55) but a description should include:

Title of role – be specific, don’t just call it a volunteer position.

Purpose of role.

Main activities/tasks.

Qualities/experience/skills sought.

Training provision.



Main point of contact/supervisor.

It is also useful to provide a role specification as this will set out the type of skills, attitude and knowledge that your organisation requires from the volunteer.

Why not Call It A Job Description? The term “job description” has fallen out of favour as it blurs the line between staff and volunteers, which can be confusing and, in a small number of cases, legally problematic. The term “role description” seems to be one most commonly used but you can call it what you like—task description, volunteer specification, role definition, etc—but definitely not job description.

Volunteer Handbook While the volunteer policy sets out the principles of your volunteer programme, a volunteer handbook will provide your volunteers with a useful reference book on day to day information that they will need such as how to claim expenses, the location of the first-aid kit, where they can lock their valuables and all the essential policies. It can also be a useful back up to the induction process as a volunteer is unlikely to take everything in during their first few sessions. As with all volunteer documents, it is important to ensure that it is both accessible and readable. It is pointless going to a great deal of trouble putting together something that people will not read as it is boring or too long, or that excludes readers with sight problems, dyslexia or learning difficulties.

Further Information The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book, Susan J Ellis, Energize Inc., 3rd edition (2004). The Quick Reference Guide to Effective Volunteer Involvement, Linda L Graff, (2005). Essential Volunteer Management, S. McCurley and R. Lynch., Directory of Social Change, 2nd Edition, (2000). The Good Practice Guide, K Bowgett, K Dickie and M Restall, Volunteering England, (2002). Deciding Whether to Involve Volunteers, Kate Bowgett. Volunteering England, (2004).



HOW TO FIND YOUR VOLUNTEERS All the thinking and consultation has been done, everyone knows why volunteers are being involved and the kind of work they will do. A volunteer policy has been written, as have role descriptions and a volunteer agreement. So how do you actually find those volunteers? Although the most common way that people find out about volunteering is through word-of-mouth via existing staff, clients, supporters or other volunteers, you will probably need to run a recruitment campaign. You will need to try and ‘sell’ the benefits of volunteering with your organisation and, as with any marketing or advertising, it is critical that you have a clear message. The nature of the message will depend on your organisation and the work you want volunteers to do. However, in general it should include:

What Your Organisation Does Before someone will decide to volunteer with you he/she will need to know about your organisation and its aims and activities. So tell your potential volunteers about the difference your organisation makes to people’s lives. For example, for a telephone helpline volunteer, you might start with “Sometimes people have worries and fears that they are too scared or embarrassed to discuss with someone they know”. Or for a befriending scheme for the elderly “Many older people have no family or friends to visit them, yet everyone needs someone to be interested in them and with whom they can have a chat over a cup of tea…”

How Volunteers Make A Difference The next step is to demonstrate how volunteers can meet this need. Do this by describing the activities that volunteers carry out in your organisation. A would-be volunteer needs to be able to see themselves in the role so, rather than just referring to roles such as befriender, mentor, trustee (all of which may mean little or nothing to the general public), describe briefly some of the activities that the volunteer will be doing e.g. laying a path in the garden of a day centre for people with learning disabilities; making breakfasts in a drop-in centre for the homeless. Also allay any possible fears they might have around their ability to undertake the role by stating when no experience is necessary, or that training and support will be given, or that the role is time-flexible, or can even be undertaken from home.

Volunteer Motivations Everyone who volunteers is motivated to do so for a variety of reasons and in one way or another they want it to be a satisfying and rewarding experience. This part of the recruitment message is your chance to ‘sell’ your volunteering based on some of the benefits it can bring. These could be:

A good way to meet new people and make friends

Learn new skills

Use existing skills or experience to benefit others

Gain a qualification

Gain experience

Obtain references

Looks good on a job application, CV or UCAS form

Raises self esteem and confidence

Makes people happier and healthier

Gives a sense of personal achievement


Gets people out of the house

Meets the desire to improve things and help others

Share interests or hobbies with others

Support a cause

In the National Helping Out Survey published by the Cabinet Office of the Third Sector in 2007, it was found that people mostly started volunteering for broadly social and practical reasons. The motivation which received the largest support was ‘Want to improve things and help others’ (53%), with 41% opting for ‘Want to Support a Cause’ and ‘Having Time to Spare. 30% wanted to meet people and make new friends while only 2% said they wanted to gain a qualification. However, there were differences between age groups. For example, in the 65+ age range, the largest factor (56%) was having time to spare, whilst new skills and qualifications were far more important for younger people. These facts could be useful if you want to target a specific age range.

Making It Easy Putting themselves forward as a volunteer can be quite daunting for many people. They may not be sure of what they are getting into and might be worried that they will not be up to it or that the commitment will end up being greater than they want. Give some idea of the amount of time you are expecting from a volunteer. Finally you will need to tell people what action they will need to take next. Do they phone you for an information pack, or fill out an application form? Do they need to make an appointment? Try and make this step as easy as possible. If your recruitment message has fired people up to help you, the last thing you will want to do is put them off by making this step complicated or lengthy. So make sure if you give out a phone number that it is staffed as much as possible, that there is an answering machine for when it is not and that any messages are responded to promptly. If you send out application and/or information packs, do so quickly.

How to Get Your Message Across Firstly, tell Herefordshire Voluntary Action about your volunteering opportunities. Through its extensive publicity programme, including a weekly column in The Hereford Journal, monthly posters in 70 different venues and leaflets in 40 other venues, the Volunteer Centre staff see a wide range of people wanting to volunteer. All your requirements can be posted through its database on to the national volunteering website and for opportunities for young people 16-25, there is a dedicated website

The word volunteer can be meaningless to some people so here are some alternatives to the word volunteer: Sign up, get involved, join in, be special, come forward, help out, speak up, stand up, step forward, a chance, an opportunity, a place, a position, participate, make a difference, campaign, assist, support, engage, devote, offer, pitch in, try, a challenge, share, lead, link up, get active, give time, timegiver. Print If your budget allows, produce some posters, leaflets and postcards. With the right design and an appealing message, they are a good way of getting your message across. Do try and make them as accessible as possible – use clear and easily understandable English and avoid jargon. As with all written material, make sure they are easily readable by people with sight problems. You may also need


to translate them into other languages. Publicity can be targeted at those groups of people to whom the volunteering role would appeal and should ideally show what they would get out of it. For example, if you are seeking volunteer drivers, try and put leaflets in places where drivers are likely to see them e.g. petrol stations and car showrooms. Consider using different forms of printed materials - postcards with a short punchy message will be more attractive to younger volunteers than a folded leaflet. People waiting in a doctor’s surgery will notice an eye-catching poster on the notice board.

When designing your message, it can be useful to keep in mind a series of words that have been found to grab readers' attention:

Gain; Achieve; Win; Avoid; Special; Easy; Health; Discover; Love; Unique; Amazing; Free; You. However you advertise your volunteering role, remember to remove all advertising once the role has been filled. Also tell Herefordshire Volunteer Centre when you no longer need a volunteer. Not only will this enable the Centre to keep up-to-date records of volunteering opportunities to show to enquirers, it will also ensure that they don’t keep signposting potential volunteers to you when you no longer need them.

Talks Once you have identified a possible source of new recruits you need to take your message to them. Preparing a talk or presentation may take some time but it can produce good results. Try to be as well briefed as possible about your audience and what is likely to appeal to them about volunteering. Potential volunteers need to be able to visualise themselves in the role, so if you are using visual images such as photographs or a DVD, tailor them to your audience. A pre-retirement group is probably not going to be so interested if they see only pictures of young volunteers. If you already have volunteers, take some along, as their own stories provide effective inspiration. Make sure you have some of your written literature to give to your audience so that they have the chance to go away and consider before committing themselves.

Events An event such as National Volunteers Week (first week in June) is a great chance to recruit new volunteers. You might have a display in a shopping area or local library. Herefordshire Voluntary Action celebrates the week with different events (contact our staff to see what they will be doing); similarly, during the year it runs Charities Markets and Information Exchanges throughout most of the county. Details of other events being run in the county can be found on

Local Media You don’t always have to pay for costly advertisements, you can write articles for local newspapers and ask parish magazines and local newsletters to profile your organisation and highlight your need for volunteers. Herefordshire Voluntary Action has a list of contacts for the parish and village newsletters for Herefordshire.

Social networking and online communities Online social networks are becoming an increasingly popular was to connect people together; people with similar interests, people who know each other. Some national charities are beginning to experiment with these online networks as one way of finding a new generation of supporters and campaigners. The online resource, Volunteer Genie, suggests that this new ‘participatory media’ could be a useful way to recruit volunteers, particularly younger people who have embraced these networks with great enthusiasm.


Advantages are: 

Spreading the message about the volunteering opportunities you have to offer.

Current volunteers can engage in online conversations with others about the volunteer work they do for your organisation.

Sharing volunteering experiences and inspiring others to do the same.

Helps to engage 'hard to reach' communities. For example, Shelter has found that homeless people use social networking sites and email as their only constant means of communication.

General Media Tips 

Press releases should be short, snappy and interesting. They should also be as current as possible.

Use plain English and avoid jargon and acronyms.

When using quotes, go for direct speech and try to find something sensational, shocking or powerful.

To produce good print quality, photos need to be at least 2mb in size. They shouldn’t be blown up or stretched as they will become pixilated or blurred.

People scan rather than read websites so use lists, bullets and ensure that sentences are no more than 30 words.

Avoid bright background colours and use a mix of pictures and text to make your website more accessible for people with visual impairment.

Make sure your marketing materials and publicity are consistent both in writing and style.

Statistics can be very impressive but made sure they are reader friendly. Rather than stating 25% of volunteers, a quarter sounds much more dramatic.

Get someone else to proof-read everything and don’t rely on the computer’s spell-check. Try reading from the bottom line upwards as you’ll then be reading just the words, not the context.

Mix symbols with text.

Diversity There are numerous benefits to an organisation from having a diverse volunteer team. For example your organisation will:

Present a more welcoming face to volunteers, client groups and the general public.

Be more representative of and able to respond to the needs of the local community.

Benefit from new ideas and fresh approaches generated by people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, ages and outlooks.

Attract more customers and service users.

The following suggestions provide a brief introduction to some of the issues associated with recruiting from groups which are often under-represented as volunteers:


Disabled People Over 6% of UK volunteers are disabled making them a valuable and relatively untapped volunteering resource. People who have been discriminated against in the past because of their impairment may not apply without encouragement. So state your commitment to equal opportunities and to making reasonable adaptations. Publicise the fact that you are keen to welcome volunteers with disabilities and show that you are accessible in the broadest sense, e.g. offering to produce information in large print or Braille and publicising a textphone number. Although it is also important to choose effective places to advertise, such as promoting your opportunities in venues like day centres and drop-in centres, remember that people with disabilities also visit the same places as everyone else. Specialist organisations can provide information and support on making your volunteering opportunities more accessible. The RNIB ( can advise you with regard to people with visual impairment whilst the British Deaf Association ( can advise you on induction loops and sign language. Abilitynet ( can help you with adjustments to computer equipment whilst the Centre for Accessible Environments ( provides information on adjustments to improve wheelchair accessibility or fitting equipment such as handrails. SCOPE has produced an excellent book on how to involve disabled young people as volunteers entitled ‘Can-Do’; the information is equally applicable to all ages and can be downloaded free from its website. CHANGE also has a free downloadable guide to producing easy to read documents ‘How To Make Information Accessible – a guide to producing easy read documents’.

Young People Whilst young people may have interests in common, they are not a single homogenous group. What appeals to a 16 year old may not interest a 25 year old, so don’t expect one campaign will attract everyone. Their interests change frequently too, so make sure you update your messages regularly. The Media Trust recommends:

Choose your medium carefully when targeting this audience; leaflets tend to be less effective than postcards or flyers.

Design is important, how you look will count so think about involving some young people in the actual design work as volunteers.

New media should be key to your campaign. Almost all young people go online and have a mobile phone. A text message about your project will have higher impact than a leaflet.

Make sure you keep your website current. Out of date content puts people off and they will be unlikely to return.

Language is important too. Don’t patronise or talk down. Don’t try to use ‘yoof’ speak unless you can pull it off otherwise you’ll seem like the ‘trendy parent’.

Focus less on your charity message and more on the experience you’re offering. Messages that primarily entertain will be more effective than those that might seem worthy or bland.

Evidence shows that this age group is far more likely to adopt a brand if their peers recommend it. Run focus groups with your existing young volunteers to get ideas or provide opportunities for them to go out and recruit volunteers on your behalf.

Since 2008 there has been a vinvolved team in Herefordshire which forms part of the government’s initiative to increase the number of young people aged 16-25 who volunteer. The team is based at Herefordshire Volunteer Centre and can advise you on how to target and recruit young people.

Older People Volunteering by older people has increased in recent years. A recent study of volunteering by older people suggests that organisations need to ‘think laterally’, so that older volunteers are given sufficiently challenging work which makes the most of their skills and experience. Avoid being influenced by appearances or chronological age and also do not subscribe to negative views of ageing such as: older people are resistant to training or it is not cost effective to train older volunteers.


People From Minority Ethnic Groups In 2009 it was estimated that 4.4% of the population of Herefordshire is of black or ethnic origin. Many residents from other countries are very keen to volunteer particularly to improve their English and to feel part of the local community. The majority of these are from Eastern Europe and Portugal, with the predominant nationality being Polish. It may therefore be worth considering producing some literature or signage in these languages and Herefordshire Council’s Equality and Diversity Team can provide a recommended list of translators. Alternatively, you could consider recruiting volunteers to do this.

Unemployed people People who are unemployed often have a lot to offer and can gain a great deal from volunteering. They need not put their benefits in jeopardy, although they should tell the Jobcentre about their volunteering (see section on Volunteering and Benefits Page 47). Unemployed people can gain skills and experience from volunteering and that will be helpful in getting paid work.

Further Information Recruiting Volunteers – Attracting the people you need, F.Dyer & U.Jost, Directory of Social Change, (2002). Involving Older Volunteers: A Good Practice Guide, A. Dingle, Volunteering England, (2001). Route to Opportunity. A series of 5 books involving people in volunteering from different sections of the community. £5 each from Volunteering England. The books cover: Young People; Unemployed; Older People; People with Disabilities; Black People. Turn your Organisation in to a Volunteer Magnet, edited by Fryar, Jackson and Dyer, Volunteering England (2004). is the UK’s leading media solution agency for the third sector. It provides an excellent downloadable ’20 Top Tips for Good Writing for Charities’ and also free monthly information sheets. Communication for the next generation - interactive guide, Media Trust. Downloadable guide provides information on how to communicate with and market to young people. - has lots of information on how to run a volunteer recruitment campaign. Helping Out: a national survey of volunteering and charitable giving (2007). Copies can be downloaded from The Cabinet Office of the Third Sector website. Can-Do! A Guide to Involving Young Disabled People as Volunteers, SCOPE. Downloadable free of charge from CHANGE.


RECRUITMENT The recruitment process that you adopt for volunteers will depend on what they will be doing in the organisation. If you are recruiting a taskforce of volunteers to plant trees on a one-off basis, you may not wish to undertake a very rigorous selection process. On the other hand, if volunteers will be working on a one-to-one basis with a vulnerable person, you will need to adopt a very careful screening process. Some organisations are in the enviable position of having more people wanting to volunteer than they can take on, so they need to be selective. Recruitment of volunteers is not the same as recruitment of paid employees since the application process is just as much about the volunteer deciding to join the organisation, as about the organisation deciding whether they wish to involve the volunteer. Consequently, a formal or complex application process will put off many volunteers from the outset and is therefore inappropriate for many volunteer roles.

Initial Enquiries Most potential volunteers are likely to contact you by phone so it is really important that the person answering the phone knows how to deal with the enquiry or knows who to pass the call to. If you ask volunteers to ring back, the likelihood is that they won’t, so if you really cannot speak to them, take a contact number and ring them back. Also, for those potential volunteers who ring when the office is closed, have a welcoming message on the answerphone, which also reassures them that they know they have come through to the right place and that you will return their call as quickly as possible. It is very disheartening for people to offer their time and then to feel that the organisation cannot be bothered with them. Not only will they not contact you again, but it’s also quite possible they will never contact any other organisations to volunteer with. Avoid asking potential volunteers too many questions over the telephone; they will not be expecting to be interviewed so it is not really fair on them. Remember that many people find this method of communicating quite difficult. However, you may want to check that they know about anything essential, for instance if you only need volunteers on a Wednesday afternoon then there is no point in them continuing with the application process if they are in paid employment all day on Wednesdays. It is a good idea to have an information pack available to send to people interested in volunteering. The pack could contain a welcome letter, information about the organisation, the volunteer role, practical information about expenses and training, and maybe information from existing volunteers about what they get out of volunteering with your organisation. Avoid including formal policies as it is better to deal with these in the volunteer's induction. You should view the information pack as an extension of your recruitment materials. You need to provide information for the potential volunteer to decide if your organisation is right for them, but at this stage you are still selling volunteering with your organisation. It can be helpful to invite potential volunteers to come and visit your organisation and talk to existing volunteers before deciding whether they want to apply to volunteer with you. Not everybody wants to, but for some people an informal visit with no strings attached is a good first step and makes them feel in control of the situation. Remember that for many people who have never volunteered, applying to an organisation is a nerve-wracking experience and they do not know quite what to expect. Anything that you can do to put them at their ease will be much appreciated and should ultimately result in more committed and informed volunteers who really feel that they have a stake in the organisation.

Application Forms While application forms are useful to record certain information, they can be off-putting for some people, particularly as they can look very formal and have definite associations with applying for paid work. Remember that at this stage potential volunteers are still making their minds up about your organisation and an unnecessary or overly complicated application form could easily put them off. So opt for a simple layout and consider using tick boxes to reduce the amount of writing that is necessary. Only try to ask questions which are relevant to the volunteer role and which will help you to decide whether the person would be able to perform the tasks. Include a section on additional support needs and on the disclosure of disability. Remember that some disabilities like epilepsy are hidden so you should never make assumptions about your volunteers. You may find that people are much more forthcoming about why they want to volunteer and their skills and experience when chatting to you, rather than on paper. It may also be preferable for you to complete


the form as the interview progresses so you can help those who have sight problems, those for whom English is not the first language or where literacy levels are low. In this case read through the information with the volunteer to check its accuracy and ask them to sign. Even if you are not required by funders to collect equality and diversity monitoring information, it is useful to collect this information to shape future volunteer recruitment strategies. This data should be entered on a separate sheet and stored apart from other personal details.

MONITORING VOLUNTEERS COLLECTING AND USING DATA Organisations collect data and monitor volunteers for a number of reasons including planning services, reporting to funders, equality and diversity information and meeting quality standards. Volunteer co-ordinators often wonder how they should collect this information and how it should be stored. Information about volunteers should be stored safely and securely and in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the organisation’s data protection policy. The Institute of Volunteering Research has issued the following guidelines:


Explain to volunteers why you are collecting information about them and what you will do with that information Obtain consent from volunteers to hold their personal details Store personal data securely and share information with others only as needed or appropriate Store data only as long as necessary. Equality and diversity information should be kept separate from general data collected for volunteers. It should also never identify the volunteer. It should be kept by the person who has responsibility for collating the information and reporting on it. If necessary, equalities forms can be pre-coded by project, location, programme or unique identity code. Only collect this information if you have a clear purpose for it which will benefit your organisation. If you are not going to monitor the data, then there is no point in collecting it.

Source: Monitoring Volunteers: a guide to collecting and using data – Institute of Volunteering Research. Email: Or website: Tel: 012075208900

Interviews An interview is the opportunity for an organisation and a potential volunteer to find out more about each other. The word ‘interview’ can sound very formal and daunting and it might be friendlier to ask prospective volunteers to ‘come in and have a chat’. Consider the following:

Check when arranging the interview whether they have any accessibility requirements.

Make sure that you are there at the agreed time and that you have set aside sufficient time for the meeting and that there will be no distractions or interruptions.

You should also ensure that there is somewhere private for you to see volunteers.

Try and make it as informal as possible – don’t sit behind a desk!

Only make notes that are factual, not an opinion, and reassure the volunteer that what they say will remain confidential.

Always be objective and fair and avoid being influenced by appearances or age.


For volunteers with support needs, particularly learning disabilities, it might be helpful to send them a copy of the questions before the interview. This will give them to time to think about and prepare their answers. Some people will also need a support worker at their interview.

This is a good opportunity to tell them: 

About the organisation and the role of volunteers.

Who the service users are.

Support and training offered.

What you expect of volunteers.

Time commitment – frequency and duration.

Resources available to volunteers e.g. equipment.

Whether you will need to take out references, a CRB disclosure and from 2010, an Independent Safeguarding Authority Disclosure (see Section on Disclosures Page 23).

You may wish to ask them: 

What has interested them in volunteering with your organisation.

What are they hoping to gain from volunteering.

Relevant skills, interests and experience.

Is the time availability and commitment right.

Transport – in Herefordshire this can be a real issue.

Do they have any particular support needs.

At the end of the interview check whether they have all the information they need and agree what will happen next and when you will contact them or when they will start. However, if you are not certain about an individual’s ability to undertake the role, you perhaps could suggest a ‘trial period’ where another volunteer could shadow them or consider adapting the role, or offering an alternative. If none of these solutions are practical or if you really feel that the volunteer is not suitable, you should give an honest explanation as to why you are saying no. You could suggest some alternative organisations that might be more suitable or refer them to the Volunteer Centre staff at Herefordshire Voluntary Action who will be able to offer other volunteering opportunities.

References References can serve many purposes, from a basic check that the person is who they say they are, through to a detailed recommendation of their suitability for the role. Whether you request references will depend very much on the type of work that the volunteer will be doing and the risks involved. You may feel that references would not be justified for individuals just turning up to volunteer for a few hours as a steward at a one-off outdoor event, for example. Certainly there is no legal requirement to ask for references, but where volunteers work directly with clients, organisations might be failing in their legal duty of care towards their clients if references were not taken up and a client was harmed. Bear in mind that if you have never had to provide a reference before it can be quite scary and seem very formal and off-putting. Explain to the potential volunteer why you take out references, what you will ask the referee and how you will use the reference. Remember to remind volunteers that they should check first that their proposed referees are willing to give references.


You should consider

Who the referees could be, as this can be yet another barrier to groups or individuals who already find themselves excluded. Requesting a reference from a previous employer immediately creates a huge difficulty for anyone who has not been recently employed. You may feel that it is really important that the referee knows the volunteer in a ‘professional’ capacity or you may be happy to accept a character reference from someone who knows the volunteer in a personal capacity. If it is the latter, you may need to decide whether close family members or referees under 18 should be excluded.

The length of time a referee needs to have known a volunteer. If it is a long time, you may be creating an unnecessary barrier. The time may depend on the volunteer role, but usually two years or more is a generally accepted period.

That volunteers know they will have to provide references before they read it on your application form and also that they understand why they need to provide them. People who, for example, have been unemployed for a long time, may panic when they see the word ‘reference’ and may result in them not applying at all. It may help not to use the word ‘reference’. Instead ask for ‘names and addresses of people who know you well’ – this sounds less off-putting.

If a volunteer has a problem in providing referees, sit down and see if you can come up with any suggestions. In the case that somebody is completely unable to provide this information, such as a migrant worker who has only recently come to England, you may have to make a balanced judgement of the risks involved and decide whether there is a safe way of involving that person.

If a reference should give cause for concern, you will need to seek permission from the referee to discuss it with the volunteer.

Screening Screening generally means checking if someone has a criminal record. It is one way of reducing the risk of recruiting volunteers who may be unsuitable to work with young people or vulnerable adults. Screening is a valuable tool in identifying unsuitable volunteers, but it is not foolproof. For example, 90% of child sex offenders have no relevant criminal record. It is not enough just to screen volunteers - it is vital to always carry out effective recruitment, training and ongoing supervision of all volunteers.

The Need To Screen The need to screen volunteers will depend entirely on what the volunteer is doing and the client group they are working with. Except for organisations whose services fall under the remit of the Care Standards Act 2000 or are ‘Childcare Organisations’ under the definition in the Protection of Children Act 1999, the only legal obligation that organisations have to screen their volunteers is the ‘duty of care’ that they have towards the people they work with. Duty of care requires that you do everything ‘reasonable’ within your power to protect others from harm. If your organisation involves volunteers in working with vulnerable people, it could be argued that part of your duty of care is to screen volunteers. Look carefully at your client group and volunteer roles and carry out a risk assessment to decide whether clients would be at risk if volunteers were not screened.

Previous Convictions The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act ( ROA ) 1974 applies to England, Scotland and Wales, and is aimed at helping people who have been convicted of a criminal offence and who have not re-offended since then. Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence and has received a custodial sentence of not more than 2.5 years benefits as a result of the Act, provided he or she is not convicted again during a specified period otherwise known as the 'Rehabilitation Period’. The length of this period depends on the sentence given for the original offence and runs from the date of the conviction. If the person does not re-offend during this rehabilitation period, they become a ‘rehabilitated person’, and their conviction becomes ‘spent’. For example, if a person receives a sentence of imprisonment or detention in a Young Offenders Institute of between 6 months and 2.5 years, the rehabilitation period is 10 years, or 5 years if the individual was under 18 at the time of conviction. For an absolute discharge the rehabilitation period is six months. Custodial sentences of 30 months or more can never become spent.


Once a conviction is ‘spent’, the convicted person does not have to reveal it or admit its existence in most circumstances. However, where a person wants to apply for a position that involves working with children or working with vulnerable people they are required to reveal all convictions, both spent and unspent. If you have decided that your volunteers will be involved with vulnerable adults or children, it is only fair to let people know from the outset that they will be required to provide information about all convictions and you should explain this both at the interview and on your application form. You should also make it clear that a conviction does not necessarily exclude someone; many convictions have no relevance to someone’s suitability to be a volunteer. Remember that one in five adult men have had a criminal conviction. If your organisation discriminates against ex-offenders, you could well be losing out on valuable volunteers.

Disclosures As well as asking about past convictions, you may decide after careful consideration that it is necessary to undertake a criminal record check i.e. a disclosure. There are currently two levels of disclosure available from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) – the level required depends on the kind of work or activity being carried out.

Standard Disclosure – is primarily for roles that involve supervised working and volunteering with children and vulnerable adults and will list unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.

Enhanced Disclosure – this is suitable where there is largely unsupervised access to under-18s or vulnerable adults, for instance roles involving supervising, training or being in sole charge of children and vulnerable adults. The disclosure will list not only current and spent convictions and cautions, reprimands or warnings, but also ‘soft intelligence’ such as police information on suspicions that did not lead to a caution or conviction and details of inclusion on lists held by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills of unsuitability to work with children.

Disclosures have to be accessed through an umbrella body – an organisation that has registered with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to undertake disclosures. There are no fees payable for standard and enhanced disclosures for volunteers but an umbrella body is likely to levy an administration charge. This is not a set amount. To find an umbrella body you should contact the CRB. Alternatively, if you will have to undertake disclosures frequently, you may wish to consider registering your own organisation as an umbrella body. At the time of going to print, Herefordshire Council’s Human Resources Department was undertaking disclosures free of charge for voluntary organisations.

Disclosure Information Disclosures have no period of validity – they are only accurate up to the date they were printed. Nor is there much guidance about which offences would make someone unsuitable to volunteer. Organisations should also carefully assess whether a disclosure showing a minor or irrelevant offence that took place a long time ago should prevent someone volunteering. There are important equal opportunities, civil rights and rehabilitation issues that need to be balanced with the need to minimise risk and you may wish to consider the following before making a decision:

Whether the conviction is relevant to the volunteering opportunity.

The seriousness of the offence.

The length of time since the offence occurred.

The circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation offered by the applicant.

Whether the behaviour that constituted the offence is still a cause for concern.

Whether the context behind that behaviour is still a cause for concern.

Whether the applicant has a pattern of offending behaviour.


Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed.

The applicant’s attitude to the offence. Is it one of remorse? Does he/ she take responsibility for it and recognise the harm he/ she caused?

If the answers to most of these questions are reassuring, then the presumption may be that the potential volunteer is not a risk. References can be taken and referees can be questioned where necessary to aid the decision-making process. If there is a serious discrepancy between what a potential volunteer has revealed and the information recorded on the disclosure then it is possible that a mistake has been made. If this happens, making a decision about whether to recruit a potential volunteer can be delayed until the person has contacted the CRB to rectify the mistake. A new disclosure will then be issued.

Transferring CRB Checks Where a person already has a CRB check from a previous role, the organisation needs to decide whether they are willing to accept it. Considerations include:

How long ago the CRB check was dated (CRB checks do not have an expiry date).

Level of the CRB check needed.

How similar the previous position is to the one applied for.

Whether the person’s identity can be validated—is this the person for whom the check was done?

Whether the person is still living at the same address.

If it is an enhanced check, and, where the applicant has given permission to approach the other organisation, whether the counter signatory received any additional information released by way of a separate letter? (All they can tell you is yes or no).

The CRB has guidance for organisations on how to weigh up the risk of transferring a CRB check.

Handling of Disclosures Disclosures should be dealt with in a safe and confidential manner. This is very important because it is a criminal offence to pass on someone’s conviction details without their prior permission. Your organisation must have a clear confidentiality policy outlining how information is stored and with whom it is shared. Only specific people within your organisation should have access to the disclosures, which should be stored securely. Once a decision has been reached on whether to take someone on or not, allowing for a suitable period for an individual to raise any queries or concerns, the disclosure and any related correspondence should be destroyed within six months of its receipt. When deciding to take someone on, information contained in disclosures should only be discussed with a set group of individuals within the organisation. The volunteer should be made aware from the beginning who these people are and how they will be involved in the decision making.

If someone has lived overseas can they have a check? The CRB website has a section with information on how to get criminal record information from 22 countries. If the person is not from one of the listed countries, you will need to get in touch with the Embassy or High Commission of the country concerned for information on how to proceed. Further information can be found on the CRB website. Refugees and asylum seekers resident in the UK often lack the correct combination of identity documents to present with their completed CRB form. Volunteer Centre Sheffield has produced a pro-forma letter (available to download at: that can be used for any volunteer who does not have a passport or other documents needed to apply for a CRB check. Using this pro-forma will result in the CRB requesting that the volunteer goes to the police station to get their fingerprints taken .


Vetting and Barring As a result of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, a new Vetting and Barring Scheme is being phased in. It aims to stop unsuitable people from working or volunteering with children and/or vulnerable adults by improving the CRB procedures outlined above. The scheme is run by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which will assess every person who wants to work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults in ‘regulated’ or ‘controlled’ activities, (a full list of these is available from the ISA website). Those adults who do not pose a risk will be given an ISA unique registration number while those who are found to be unsuitable will be placed on a barred list and will be unable to work or volunteer with vulnerable groups. Barred individuals will have a right of appeal. The scheme was due to fully commence in October 2009 but actual registration has been postponed until July 2010 when all new volunteers and employees can register with ISA. From November 2010 it will be a legal obligation to register new volunteers working with vulnerable people. There will be a phased rollout of the programme from 2011 for existing volunteers. Organisations are now legally required to let the scheme know if there has been a dismissal or resignation of a volunteer because they have harmed or may harm a child or vulnerable adult.

ISA Registration As with CRB checks, ISA registration for volunteers is free. Once successfully ISA-registered, an individual is ISA-registered for life in most cases and does not need to reapply. This means that it will be possible to check a prospective volunteer’s registration status online, free of charge. Only then, when a volunteer’s ISA-registration has been confirmed, can they be taken on. The volunteer will also be ‘subject to monitoring’ so if their ISA registration status changes, the organisation will be notified. Where a person isn’t registered, this is not an indication that they have been barred, as they may simply not have applied to the scheme yet.

How CRB and ISA work together ISA registration does not replace the need for a CRB disclosure but represents an extra level of protection. The new vetting and barring system will provide continuous monitoring via ISA registration whereas the CRB checking gives a snapshot of information at just one moment in time. A CRB disclosure will reveal if the person has convictions that might make them unsuitable to do the specific job, such as convictions for theft, fraud or dishonesty. From July 2010 a new application form will enable people to apply for both ISA registration and an Enhanced Disclosure simultaneously. Application forms will be obtainable from either a Registered Body or an Umbrella Body, which will then send them to the Criminal Records Bureau for processing.

Code of Practice for Disclosures Where you carry out Disclosure checks, you are legally bound by the Disclosure Code of Practice. The Code sets out rights and responsibilities in relation to Disclosures. These provisions, which are briefly set out below, represent good practice, whether or not the volunteer work on offer is subject to Disclosure checks. Written policy: you are required to have a written policy on the involvement of ex-offenders. This should give someone with a record some indication of the likelihood of them being accepted as a volunteer. Application forms: if you have a formal application form you should ensure that where Disclosures will be required it contains a statement to this effect. If you don’t have an application form, people should be informed in writing that a Disclosure will be required. Blanket bans: you are required to have a statement on the application form or other recruitment material that a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to voluntary work. Discussion: you are required to discuss any matters revealed on a Disclosure with the applicant before withdrawing a voluntary position. Discrimination: you should not unfairly discriminate on the basis of matters revealed on a Disclosure.


Further Information Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Criminal Records Bureau Checks - Guidance for Volunteering, Cabinet Office, (June 2008). The ISA website contains a number of factsheets and Frequently Asked Questions about the new Vetting and Barring Scheme. Tel: 0300 123 1111 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5.30pm) or email: Website: Nacro Resettlement Plus Helpline. Nacro’s helpline can provide information on Disclosures, including the interpretation of information on certificates and the relevance of offences.169 Clapham Road, London SW9 0PU, Tel: 020 7840 6464 Email: Website: Volunteers and the Law, Mark Restall, (June 2005). England.


Download free from Volunteering

WHO IS ALLOWED TO VOLUNTEER? Everyone has something to offer as a volunteer but there are a few legal and safety restrictions, some real and some imagined, that can create barriers to certain groups offering their time.

Volunteers from Overseas There are no restrictions on nationals of EU countries or other countries in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, volunteering in the UK. People from non EU/EEA countries are generally prevented from taking paid or unpaid work in the UK. People whose passports are endorsed with this or who are subject to any other restrictions applicable to unpaid work should not do any volunteering until they have obtained consent from the Border Agency. Apart from au pairs, most people who are entitled to work in the UK may also undertake volunteering as well as paid work. If your organisation is approached by a potential volunteer from outside the EU/EEA, you should explain that the volunteer must check their visa or entry clearance conditions. The person must make sure that they are allowed to volunteer, in addition to their main purpose for entering the country. On official documents, this will probably be described as ‘unpaid work’, rather than as ‘volunteering’. It is important that individual volunteers take responsibility for this, because, as a worst case scenario, a person could jeopardise their visa status by working or volunteering when they are not allowed to. If a potential volunteer cannot find the answer clearly on their immigration documentation, you can suggest that they contact the UK Border Agency (UKBA). The following are rules for specific groups but please note that some of these rules may be subject to change as part of the government’s review of immigration laws. For further information, please read the statement on UKBA’s website latest news page.

Charity Workers At the end of 2008, the UK Border Agency launched a new immigration category for migrants who want to visit the UK in order to work on an unpaid basis for a charity. It is called the "charity workers" subcategory and replaces the previous category for "voluntary worker visas". Eligibility for this category is that the volunteer must be sponsored and have a certificate of sponsorship (more information about becoming a licensed sponsor is available from the UKBA) and fulfil the following requirements:

The volunteer is providing a service for a registered voluntary or charitable organisation (or organisation that raises funds for either).

The work is directly related to the objects of the charity.

There should be no payment, other than for accommodation, meals and living allowance as allowed under the minimum wage legislation.

There should be no contractual obligations on the volunteer.

The service is not a substitute for employment (i.e. fulfilling a role that a salaried worker would normally fulfil).

The volunteer will not be in the UK for more than 12 months.

Visitors Anyone holding a ‘visitor visa’ is not allowed to take up volunteering during their stay in the UK.

Students A person with a genuine ‘student visa’ should not need permission to take part-time or holiday work, including volunteering. Some restrictions remain in place, including a limit of 20 hours per week during term-time, unless the college agrees otherwise.


Note that a new short-term category of ‘student visitor visa’ was introduced in 2007. This is different from a ‘student visa’, and has the same rules as visitor visas meaning that these individuals aren’t allowed to volunteer. If you are still uncertain, please contact the UKBA for further information.

Refugees People (and their family members) who have refugee status or who have exceptional leave to stay are allowed to volunteer provided they are completely unpaid. Meals can be provided and fares reimbursed but it is best to check first with the Refugee Council.

Asylum seekers Many people seeking asylum want to use their skills and contribute something to the society in which they wish to live. Since April 2000, asylum seekers (people in the process of applying for refugee status) have been allowed to volunteer in certain types of organisations. Asylum seekers generally receive a document which states that they cannot take up paid or unpaid employment, but this does not apply to volunteering. Guidance on Prevention of Illegal Working issued by the UK Border Agency clarifies where asylum seekers can volunteer:

“Asylum seekers are allowed to volunteer, as long as they are carrying out the work on behalf of a registered charity, voluntary organisation or body that raises funds for either. Any voluntary activity undertaken should not amount to either employment, or job substitution.” Asylum seekers are entitled to receive out-of-pocket expenses just like other volunteers.

Ex-Offenders (see also section on Disclosures page 19) Volunteer co-ordinators often struggle with involving ex-offenders. Firstly, they should bear in mind that according to NACRO almost a quarter of men and women of working age have a criminal record – some will have been convicted by the courts, some will have been to prison while others will have been cautioned by the police or convicted of less serious offences such as motoring offences. For a significant proportion, the offences will have occurred in their youth or a long time ago. This means that exoffenders form a sizeable proportion of the population and among them will be many people with the ability, experience and enthusiasm to be excellent volunteers. Obviously, there will be ex-offenders who will cause harm and they must be excluded from doing so. The involvement of ex-offenders as volunteers is an equal opportunities issue and failure to adopt volunteer recruitment and retention policies and practices that incorporate ex-offenders is discriminatory. For more information on spent and unspent convictions and disclosures see page 19.

Children Whilst people under the age of 18 are legally classed as vulnerable, people over the age of 16 are free to undertake paid work. So Volunteering England recommends that child protection measures should be strong and robust for the pre-16 age group but less rigid for post-16s. You will need to make a careful assessment as to whether you would be placing a young person, or the people they will be working with, at risk through their volunteering activity. Volunteering England recommends the following basic principles:

Young people should not be left unattended.

It is safer if two or more adults at the same time supervise young volunteers.

Any potentially dangerous activity should have constant adult supervision.

For volunteers under 16 you should obtain parental/guardian consent so that they understand what the organisation does, what the young person will be doing and when and where they will be volunteering. Volunteer co-ordinators should strongly encourage volunteers in the 16-18 age group to discuss their activities with their parents or guardians.

You should also check your insurance cover (public or employer liability) as it may not automatically cover people under 16. It is generally easy to extend the policy to include young people, but there are occasions when the insurance company may decide that because of the types of tasks involved, the risk for young people may be too high.


Your organisation should also put child protection policies in place which provide adequate safeguards both for young and adult volunteers and paid members of staff. You will need to ensure that all staff and adult volunteers working alone with young volunteers should obtain criminal record checks.

Vulnerable People Sometimes adult volunteers may be classed as vulnerable if they have a substantial physical or learning disability, are very elderly, have mental health problems or are recovering from addictions. People who fall into these groups have a lot to offer as volunteers but, just as with young people, you should ensure that they would not be at risk and are adequately supported. Many people have varying support needs and individuals are usually the best judges of what they can and cannot do and of the types of help that they need.

Further Information Prevention Of Illegal Working: Immigration, Asylum And Nationality Act 2006: Comprehensive Guidance For Employers On Preventing Illegal Working, UK Border Agency, Home Office, (February 2008). Involving Ex-offenders in Volunteering, Volunteering England and Nacro. Downloadable free from their websites. Volunteers and the Law, Mark Restall, Volunteering England, (June 2005). Downloadable free from Volunteering England website.

Other Agencies UK Border Agency (UKBA) (formerly known as the Border and Immigration Agency and as the Immigration and Nationality Directorate) Public Enquiry Offices are located in Croydon, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow. Tel: 0870 606 7766 Refugee Council. The Refugee Council has a number of offices and advice lines for different areas of the country. Telephone or visit their website to find the nearest office to you. Tel: 020 7820 3085 Email: Website: If you do not have internet access, you can contact their Head Office at 240-250 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London SW9 8BB.

UK Visas Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH. Tel: 0845 010 5555 (this service is temporarily suspended) Email: Website: Or contact Volunteering England Information Service Email: Freephone Information Line: 0800 028 3304



EXPENSES It is really important that volunteers should never be out of pocket because of their volunteering. However volunteers must only be reimbursed for expenditure genuinely incurred rather than given a set allowance.

Money over and above out of pocket expenses is regarded as income by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and is therefore taxable. Note that the entire sum a volunteer received will be taxed, not just the portion above the actual expense. It is likely too that the organisation would have to put such volunteers through PAYE, as HM Revenue and Customs would treat such ‘volunteers’ just as they would employees.

If volunteers in receipt of state benefits were to receive more than their actual expenses, they would probably lose part of their means-tested benefit, and the nature of their volunteering might also be called into question.

Expenses payments that exceed volunteers’ actual costs may be regarded as a payment in return for the work they have carried out. This could be regarded as a contract by a tribunal or similar body, giving the volunteers the same rights as workers or employees (including the national minimum wage).

Allowable Expenses The following are allowed as reimbursable expenses by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), provided the volunteer receives no other payment or remuneration from the organisation:

Travel to and from their home to the place of their volunteering.

Travel during the course of their volunteering.

Actual cost of meals taken during time of volunteering.

Care costs for dependants incurred whilst volunteering.

Postage, stationery and phone calls etc incurred through the volunteering role.

Cost of protective clothing and equipment or uniforms.

Actual cost of purchasing materials or services required to do the work.

Good Practice 

It is sensible to set a minimum volunteering session to qualify for a meal e.g. 5 hours, and also a limit on the amount that can be claimed for meals, but do ensure that it is sufficient to allow a volunteer to have a basic hot meal and drink. Similarly it would be sensible to set a maximum amount for reimbursement of childcare and other expenses.

It is advisable to get volunteers to complete a claims form and to attach their receipts. The form should set out the volunteer’s name, date of expenditure, nature of expenditure and reason for it and the amount. You should always keep a record of these claims and of money paid out in case there are any queries in the future.

Volunteers should never have to ask for their expenses; they should be automatically reimbursed at agreed times and, if they are on benefits or known to be on low income, should be offered the opportunity to be reimbursed with cash at the end of each volunteering session.

It is now permissible for volunteers on benefits under the Social Security Amendment (Volunteers) Regulations 2001 to be given their expenses in advance. This was introduced to recognise that it


can be difficult for a person on benefits to find the money for travel, food etc, even if it is reimbursed later. Note that this is still reimbursement. Any unspent money should be returned and evidence of the expenses should still be collected.

Should volunteers not wish to be reimbursed, they should still be encouraged to submit claims and donate the money back to the organisation. If they do not do this it could be awkward and embarrassing for those who may really need to claim. Additionally, you will have a clearer idea of the true cost of volunteer involvement and be able to cost it in future budgets – otherwise you may be unable to reimburse future volunteers. If volunteers are tax payers, they could Gift Aid the money back.

Mileage Organisations are sometimes unclear about what mileage rate to adopt. Ask other similar organisations what rates they are paying. However if the Inland Revenue rates are exceeded, they will attract tax. Permitted rates are:

Rates for 2010-2011 Cars and vans: Motorcycles:

40p per mile for first 10,000 miles, 25p for every following mile. 24p per mile regardless of overall total.


20p per mile, regardless of overall total.

Non-Money Benefits Any regular low-value perk given to a volunteer e.g. reduced entry to events, or a regular discount, offered to a charity shop volunteer, are not usually classed as income by the benefits agencies or taxable by HMRC. Training can also be counted as a ‘consideration’, but this should only be a danger where you are giving a volunteer training that is in no way relevant to their role in return for the volunteering that they have done for you. For instance, if you pay for all volunteer gardeners who have been with your organisation longer than a year to go on a computer training course, even though they will never be using a computer during their volunteering, you are in effect making a payment in return for the time donated to your organisation and creating a contract of employment. Whilst some organisations may choose to thank their volunteers by buying them a small gift such as a free Christmas lunch or a small gift of flowers on a volunteer’s birthday or when they leave, it is good practice to avoid giving anything that sets a precedent for expectation on the part of the volunteer. If a gift is regarded as a ‘perk’ (something that the volunteer gains in exchange for volunteering), this may contribute to the creation of a contract with the volunteers, giving them employment status with the associated rights. Also, it is important not to give gifts that the volunteer can benefit from financially such as money, vouchers, tokens and gifts of appreciable value, as this can affect benefit claims, and may be taxable. In cases where you may wish to recognise an individual’s long-standing contribution to your organisation, it may be appropriate to give a more significant gift, such as a commemorative paperweight. This may also be the case when volunteers leave or ‘retire’ from volunteering with your organisation. As this would be a one-off event, there would be no reason for the volunteer to expect such a reward on a regular basis, so the issue of setting a precedent would not apply.

Honoraria There are no clear legal rules on what constitutes an honorarium and Volunteering England advises against making payments of this kind to volunteers. However, should you wish to consider making this one-off payment, check with HM Revenue and Customs to ensure that it meets the criteria for tax exemption. To be tax exempt, an honorarium has to be totally unexpected with no precedent surrounding it. It can also cause problems if the recipient is on benefits, as the Jobcentre will treat this as a payment and more than likely will deduct it from an individual’s benefits. Another good reason for not paying honoraria is that it can also create bad feeling amongst other volunteers who do not receive it.


Further Information Volunteers and the Law, Mark Restall, Volunteering England, (2005). In particular, chapter 2 on “Benefits and Tax� This publication is free to download from Volunteering while on benefits (DWP1023). Department of Work and Pensions, (September 2008) For information on mileage rates HM Revenue and Customs: travel.html



KEEPING YOUR VOLUNTEERS You’ve found your volunteers but how are you going to maintain that initial enthusiasm and motivation and hang on to them? Key elements can include:

Induction Supervision and Support Training Involvement Recognition

Induction Just like starting a new job, it can be quite daunting for a volunteer to start a new placement in a new organisation. He or she will be coming into unfamiliar surroundings, with people they do not know and into an organisation which has its own ways of working and a culture that the new volunteer knows little, if anything, about. If your organisation wants to make the volunteer feel welcome and comfortable it is vital to introduce and induct them correctly. A sample induction check list is available at Appendix 5, page 57. Do, however, try and keep the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy to a minimum, as this can often be very offputting to volunteers. Obviously the nature of your organisation and the volunteers will influence the level of formality for the processes you undertake along with being strongly influenced by the type of roles that the volunteers in your organisation undertake. For example, if the nature of the work your volunteers undertake involves a high level of responsibility, the more formal your processes will need to be. The way you go through the induction process will depend on a number of factors, including whether you have a number of volunteers starting at the same time. Group induction can take less time overall, and allows for discussions to take place where appropriate. It can also enable volunteers to start to build relationships and provide a support system for each other. On the other hand, if you only have volunteers starting from time to time, it might put them off if they have to wait a while for enough others to join and form a group, so it could be as well to start people one at a time. Some things might be covered more effectively in a group context, such as confidentiality for example, and you may choose to wait and deal with that as part of a specific training session when you have more people to contribute to the discussion. On the first day tell them what they will be doing over the next few weeks. Don’t overload a volunteer with too much information, but he or she will need to know some of the basics that you might take for granted, such as:

A brief background to what the organisation does.

The volunteer agreement (see section on Volunteer Agreements page 9).

Introduction to other staff and volunteers.

Showing them around the building, where they can put their things, where the toilets are and where they can make themselves something to drink.

Who they can go to if they have any questions or problems – it is very important that a volunteer always feels there is somebody within the organisation to whom they can turn.

Showing them where they will be sitting and where they can find any equipment they need.

If they are volunteering out of the office, explain your lone workers’ policy and procedures.


Let them know about breaks - can they take one any time they want or do you have set times.

Where can they go locally if they need to go out and buy some food.

How to claim expenses.

Your organisation’s policy on volunteers using phones, computers and the internet for their own use.

The location of the first-aid kit, fire exits, fire extinguishers, etc as well as pointing out potential hazards.

Other policies and procedures can be introduced gradually over the first few weeks, starting with the most important ones first. There will be policies that are specific to your organisation but generally you will want to cover the Volunteer Policy, Equal Opportunities, Confidentiality, Problem Solving procedures and Health and Safety. Don’t just hand over files – go through them so volunteers understand them and are comfortable with them. It also makes it easier for anyone with literacy difficulties who might otherwise be too embarrassed to ask for help. It is a good idea to work closely with the volunteer for the first few weeks as it will give you a good idea of what level of support the volunteer will need, what their interests are and what they are hoping to get out of their volunteering. In order to make them feel part of the organisation, you might also want to consider them shadowing another volunteer or member of staff, trying out different roles in the organisation and inviting them to any social events that are taking place.

Training Through the induction process you will have provided some training but you may wish to continue this to extend the volunteer’s skills, refresh their knowledge or enable them to take on further roles. Obviously the training you give will very much depend on the kind of work volunteers will be doing and whether it is possible to achieve within the available financial resources. There are three main methods of training available to you – you may choose to use one or a combination of methods:


Training on the job

One of the most common ways of training volunteers is to train them on the job. This is suitable when you take on one or two volunteers at a time and if their role will be relatively simple. A member of staff or another volunteer could show the new volunteer how to do the task and then supervise them as they do it. It may be helpful to back up the training with written instructions which the volunteer can then refer to. This is an effective and cheap method of training but it may well demand a lot of time and patience.


Training courses with a qualified trainer

Where volunteers need to learn something complex or something that requires a certificate (e.g. first-aid, food-handling) then training from outside the organisation may be the best option. This can be quite costly, so it is always a good idea to factor-in volunteer training into any project budget. Also consider sharing your training with other organisations.


In-house training scheme

If you regularly take on a group of volunteers at one go and there is also a requirement for training in fairly complex tasks, then you may wish to develop an in-house training scheme. If volunteers are working with vulnerable people there will be a need for some fairly in-depth training around areas such as setting boundaries, protection of children or vulnerable adults and confidentiality. These issues are best dealt with in-house so that the examples and case studies used in the training will be relevant and realistic, and so that volunteers’ concerns will be addressed by people who know the way the organisation works in-depth.

Volunteers who don’t want to train At Herefordshire Volunteer Centre we frequently hear from volunteer managers that some of their volunteers have refused to go on training. First of all, is it being made clear to the volunteer why the training is important? Do they realise that it might provide a useful opportunity to discuss difficult situations they have come up against. Or does the training take place outside normal volunteering hours? If so, is it possible to alter the timing of the training or run the same session at different times?


Ultimately, you cannot force an unwilling volunteer to train so if the training is absolutely essential then it would be perfectly acceptable to ask that volunteer to leave or change to a role that does not require that training.

Supporting your volunteers Just as with paid employees, support for volunteers is very important. It can often be overlooked especially if a volunteer appears to be having no problems and the co-ordinator is hard pressed for time. The form that this takes will vary considerably. Volunteers at a one-off event will need a different level of support from a long-term volunteer. What is important is that it is appropriate to the role and to the individual volunteer. Firstly it is essential to ensure that there is always someone in the organisation to whom the volunteers can turn, even if they are only at the end of the phone. If staff are not going to be available, you could pair volunteers with a ‘buddy’, an experienced volunteer who is willing to take a particular interest in the individual new volunteer, to whom they can talk about their work.

Supervision When 3,000 volunteers were asked a few years ago by the Scout Association, “Is there anything we could be doing to support you better?” a common response was, “Talk to us more; ask us what we think about things”. The very act of asking what volunteers want, what they are enjoying and what they are not, says to volunteers that you care and that they are important. So regular supervision provides an opportunity to check that volunteers are enjoying their role, whether they need extra support or more training and that they are getting on with clients, staff and other volunteers. In turn, the volunteers will feel valued and that they are important to the organisation. Supervision can vary from a very informal debriefing chat at the end of a session, to ringing around home-based volunteers, to more formal meetings. The style and frequency will depend on the needs of the individual volunteer, for example, a person volunteering to gain skills to get into paid employment might welcome the chance to be assessed and have a formal record of the skills they have gained, whereas a volunteer with learning or mental health difficulties may very well lack confidence so will need a lot of reassurance. Whichever model the co-ordinator chooses make sure that the sessions are regular, without distraction and private enough for the volunteer to feel comfortable about raising any problems.

The sort of questions you might want to ask could be: ? ? ? ? ?

How are you finding your volunteering at the moment. What aspects do you enjoy, is there anything you dislike or are unhappy about doing. Is there anything we could be doing to make your role easier. Is there any training you feel you need. Is there any other work in the organisation that you would like to try.

This is an opportunity to deal with problems before they get too serious to ignore. Tackled early on, you and your volunteer have an opportunity to resolve the situation – left much later, the volunteer will feel rightfully aggrieved that the problem was not mentioned earlier. A regular pattern of supervision should develop a good relationship where both parties feel able to raise concerns. Use these sessions to praise volunteers when things are going well. Keep them informed of positive feedback or of good news that the organisation receives. You might find it useful to keep records of these sessions and certainly this would be valuable if anyone took over your role. In line with the Data Protection Act, let the volunteer know what kind of notes you are keeping – better still let them have a copy. Keep the notes stored in a secure place and when disposed of, they should be shredded or completely destroyed.

Peer Support Forming a volunteers’ support group may also be a good idea. Problems and ideas they may feel embarrassed about raising individually can then be voiced in the safety of a group. It is particularly useful for people volunteering regularly on their own and who might feel isolated from the organisation, e.g. a home-visitor. A group will provide an opportunity to come together and meet other volunteers carrying out the same role. You might want to treat the support group as a social - it’s a valuable opportunity for


volunteers to mix, which in turn will help them feel that the organisation is part of their lives. But do remember – respect people’s rights to not be involved.

Other Ways To Keep Your Volunteers Happy And Interested The following are some suggestions on how to keep your volunteers:

Involve volunteers in decision-making processes on issues that affect them or the areas they are working on. This might take the form of becoming a volunteer representative on your Trustee Board, participating in formal consultations, focus groups or questionnaires, but equally could be simply asking individuals for their opinions and suggestions on particular aspects of their work or on brand new projects. If appropriate, invite them to staff meetings.

Keep your volunteers updated on what your project is accomplishing and how their contribution fits in by including information in newsletters and regular reports.

Send them Birthday and Christmas cards.

Are volunteers mentioned in the annual report? Are they invited to the AGM? What about other publications or your web site? Do you publicise volunteer achievements or do the public (and even the staff for that matter) only hear about volunteers when the organisation is trying to recruit them?

Try to ensure other staff in your organisation see the positive contribution volunteers make and that they do not treat them with indifference or hostility.

For many volunteers, the most important part of volunteering is working alongside a client group. If a client or service user compliments a particular volunteer, then you could include these comments in a ‘Thank You’ card to the volunteer. Alternatively, you could design a ‘Thank You’ notice board, where clients or service users can show their appreciation by adding comments about volunteers.

Run a party or barbecue for your volunteers and make sure that volunteers are included in the social life of the organisation and are not excluded by factors such as cost.

Make time to chat to volunteers and show a genuine interest in their life outside the organisation.

Mark long-service with certificates and nominate volunteers for awards (particularly for Herefordshire Volunteers of the Year Awards which are run every alternate year by Herefordshire Voluntary Action).

Gifts (see chapter on Expenses page 31).

But most of all value your volunteers – research undertaken by volunteer centres up and down the country shows that the recognition volunteers most want from an organisation is ‘just a simple thank you’.

Further Information The Management of Volunteers – National Occupational Standards, NCVO, (2008). An interactive version is available from Keeping Volunteers: the Art of Volunteer Retention, Steven McCurley & Rick Lynch, Directory of Social Change Turn your Organisation in to a Volunteer Magnet, edited by Fryar, Jackson and Dyer, Volunteering England, (2004).


HEALTH AND SAFETY Despite the increasing importance of volunteering, the legal obligations of organisations towards their volunteers with regard to health and safety are less clear than they are for their employees. Nevertheless organisations do have a duty of care towards their volunteers and it is clearly good practice to treat volunteers with equal consideration when it comes to health and safety. This section has been written as an introduction to the main aspects of health and safety. You are strongly recommended to seek further advice.

Duty of Care The duty of care is a general legal duty on all individuals and organisations to avoid carelessly causing injury to persons. The courts have developed it over many years. The duty is regardless of the size of the organisation, its income or whether or not the organisation has paid staff. If your organisation asks volunteers to undertake a task which results in them injuring themselves or anyone else, the members of your governing body may be liable. No matter what activities your organisation is involved in, from running a major hospital trust to organising day trips to the seaside, you will have to consider the duty of care owed to your volunteers. Liability depends on establishing that the organisation failed to take reasonable care. As an example, imagine that a young volunteer working for your organisation was left unsupervised working with a garden shredding machine, he/she failed to wear the goggles supplied and sustained an eye injury. Your organisation could be held liable if you failed to train or supervise the volunteer in the safe use of the shredding machine. The Court may decide that leaving an inexperienced young person in charge of a machine unsupervised is unreasonable. The notion of duty of care needs to be considered in all aspects of your organisation's work and activities. A duty of care can arise in many ways which may not always be obvious, for example:


loaning equipment to others charity walks and sponsored runs running fetes or fairs organising day trips selling food on a charity stall

Health And Safety Law a) Organisations with Paid Staff and Volunteers Health and Safety law lays down your duties to your employees. The law also imposes further responsibilities on you as an employer with regard to people not in your employment, such as volunteers and other members of the public, who may be affected by your work activities. Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes a duty on every employer ‘to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment, who may be affected by their undertaking, are not exposed to risks to their health or safety’ and ‘to give to persons (not being their employees) who may be affected in a prescribed manner, information as might affect their health or safety’. This generally means that an organisation, which has both employees and volunteers, has a statutory responsibility not to harm or damage the health of volunteers through their involvement in the activities of that organisation. Organisations may also have a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment to determine what level of information and training, if any, is required (see section on Risk Assessment page 40). This would depend on the activities concerned. For example, if a volunteer assisting in a hospice is expected to lift patients in and out of bed, you may have a duty to supply the volunteer with information and training on the correct manner and technique of lifting. This will both allow the volunteer to lift the client safely and enable them to know when not to lift the client but to seek assistance. However, if a volunteer was helping to run a lucky-dip stall at a fete, training is unlikely to be necessary.

b) Organisations With Responsibility For Buildings And Premises Anyone managing non-domestic premises must take reasonable steps to provide employees and volunteers with equipment and premises that are safe, including safe routes of exit. This means if you control or are responsible for premises, you have a duty to make sure that the building is safe to use and


complies with all the relevant Health and Safety regulations (for example, ensuring that signage meets the Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996). This duty also applies to places such as community centres, scout huts, car parks, playgrounds etc.

Basic Principles Of Health And Safety There are some key areas of Health and Safety which every organisation should examine. Not all of these are legally binding on organisations that do not employ staff. The duties placed on organisations consisting only of volunteers are in italics. For organisations that have paid staff and also involve volunteers, Volunteering England strongly recommends that your organisation should implement the same Health and Safety requirements for volunteers as those required by law for paid employees. Most organisations now support equal opportunities - it would be difficult for any organisation that claimed to have an Equal Opportunities policy to justify offering a lower standard of health and safety protection to volunteers. If your organisation has no employees, it may not be able to achieve the same standards of health and safety as required for employees in the short-term. By setting a timetable to aim to accomplish this, you will be demonstrating to your volunteers and the outside world, the value you place on them and their efforts to support your organisation.

Health And Safety Policy A Health and Safety policy is the foundation on which to develop health and safety procedures and practices. The policy states the organisation’s commitment towards good health and safety standards. The policy can help to clarify procedures and areas of responsibility. Although employers with fewer than five employees are not obliged to have a policy, they are strongly advised to do so. If an organisation involves volunteers, they should always be included in the Health and Safety policy as a matter of good practice. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has examples of model Health and Safety policies which can be used as a template. If your organisation has no employees, you are not obliged to have a Health and Safety policy, but are strongly recommended to draw one up. Developing a Health and Safety policy is a positive step and will help you clarify your procedures and responsibilities. If you also involve volunteers in the process, it will make them much more aware of health and safety issues.

Health And Safety Risk Assessment Risk assessment involves identifying all hazards, assessing the risks, and putting in place measures to control unacceptable risks. A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, such as a faulty electrical socket. ‘Risk’ is the likelihood of it causing harm and the degree of harm it could cause, such as an electrical shock which could lead to a fatality. A simple Risk Assessment template can be found at Appendix 7 page 60 at the back of this guide. The HSE recommends a five-step approach to the actual process:

Look for hazards.

Decide who might be harmed, and how.

For each hazard, evaluate the chance of harm actually being done and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done.

Record the significant findings of risk assessment, such as the main risks and the measures you have taken to deal with them.

Review your assessment from time to time, and revise if necessary.

Voluntary groups with no employees are not bound to undertake risk assessments, but if they take their duty of care seriously they would be well advised to carry them out. Risk assessments are an excellent way to identify and overcome Health and Safety problems.


The Control Of Substances Hazardous To Health (COSHH) All employers have a legal duty to assess the workplace for risks to health which may be caused by substances hazardous to health. They must take all necessary steps to control any risks identified. Items such as household bleach may seem harmless, but in the hands of a small child are extremely dangerous. Assessment is the key to evaluating potentially dangerous substances in the workplace. If your organisation has no employees, it is not bound to do COSHH assessments, but if it takes its duty of care seriously it would be well advised to carry out such assessments as they are an excellent way to identify and overcome health and safety problems.

Registering Your Organisation's Activities Any organisation employing staff, regardless of size or location, must register its existence with the Health and Safety Executive or the local Environmental Health Department. Organisations with volunteers only do not normally have to register their activities with the enforcement authorities unless involved in dangerous activities, such as putting on a fireworks display. Groups that control, or are responsible for premises and buildings, have to register with the local Fire Authority. If food is prepared, stored, supplied or sold on five or more days in any five-week period, groups must register with the local Environmental Health Department. You should always check with the authorities if you are in any doubt about the need for registering activities.

First-Aid All employers have a duty under law to make a first-aid assessment. The level of first-aid will depend on the organisation's activities. An outward-bound centre, for instance, will have very different requirements from a morning coffee club. Again, an assessment of the workplace is the key to deciding what level of first aid to provide. There are minimum standards for organisations with employees. There must be at least one first-aid box and a notice displayed in the workplace that tells staff:

The location of the first-aid box.

Who is the first-aider or appointed person (see below).

Where the first-aider or appointed person can be found.

An appointed person is someone who has basic first-aid knowledge, is available whenever people are at work, who can take charge in an emergency and is responsible for calling the emergency services. Details of one-day courses to train appointed persons are available from the Health and Safety Executive. Voluntary groups with no employees are not bound to undertake a first-aid assessment, although it is clearly good practice to do so. In certain circumstances, such as a large public fireworks display, however, there may be a legal duty to provide first-aid facilities. If you hold a public exhibition without first-aid facilities and someone is injured, you may have failed to meet your duty of care. If you have any doubts whatsoever you should always contact the local Health and Safety Executive office for advice.

Insurance Like paid employees, volunteers are exposed personally to a variety of risks as well as, through their voluntary work, potentially exposing your organisation and service users. Insurance will not prevent things going wrong but it can compensate for the consequences if they do. You have a duty to ensure that your volunteers are adequately covered by your insurance polices. There are several different types of policy, so it is often confusing to work out which is the most appropriate. Basically, volunteers should be covered either under Employer’s Liability insurance or Public Liability insurance and, depending on the type of work involved, the organisation may need Professional Indemnity insurance as well. Policies should explicitly mention volunteers because they may not automatically be covered.


It is good practice to:

Ensure that your policies explicitly mention volunteers because they may not be automatically included in your insurance cover.

Check with your insurer if there are upper and lower age limits for volunteers before recruiting younger or older volunteers.

Make sure that your insurance company is aware of the types of activities that the volunteers will be doing. If the tasks are high-risk then the insurance policies will need to be adapted to accommodate these risks.

Produce a written risk assessment for each of the roles that volunteers will be performing, because this will help your insurer to tailor your policy to suit your needs.

Public Liability Insurance Also known as Third Party insurance, this provides protection to your organisation against claims by members of the public, including service users, for death, illness, loss, injury or accident caused by the negligence of the organisation. It also protects against loss or damage to property arising from any negligent action by your volunteers. This cover can also be extended to protect your organisation against claims from volunteers arising from injury or sickness as a result of negligence by your organisation. (Alternatively they can be covered under Employers’ Liability Insurance). Volunteers are generally covered under this type of insurance but the policy must explicitly state this. As always check with your insurer.

Employers’ Liability Insurance By law employers must have Employers’ Liability insurance for at least £5 million to cover liability for accidents, disease or injury to an employee due to negligence or breach of health and safety by the employer. Although legislation does not enforce employers to cover volunteers under this policy, it is advisable to do so, particularly if your volunteers are not covered under your Public Liability insurance cover. The policy must explicitly mention volunteers for them to be covered by it.

Personal Accident Insurance Financial compensation is provided in the event of injury, accident or death occurring where the organisation is not at fault. This cover is not compulsory but recommended as good practice. There is usually an upper age limit on this type of insurance.

Professional Liability Insurance This insurance covers the organisation for claims arising from loss or injury caused by services provided negligently or without reasonable duty of care. Such loss might arise, for example, from incorrect care or inaccurate advice or information even if it is given free or via a telephone helpline. Professional liability insurance should also cover defamation, inadvertent breach of copyright, confidentiality and loss of documents.


Further Information The Health & Safety Handbook For Voluntary & Community Organisations, Al Hinde, Charlie Kavanagh, Editor Jill Barlow, 2nd Edition, (DSC) Managing Your Community Building - A Practical Handbook for People Running Buildings in Local Communities, Peter Hudson, (Community Matters). Safe & Alert: good practice advice on volunteers working with vulnerable clients, Volunteering England. Health and Safety Executive For more information about all aspects of health and safety you can call the Health and Safety Executive Infoline on 0845 345 0055. You can also check the website at, where you will find lots of useful publications, many of which are free of charge. Charity and Voluntary Workers: A guide to health and safety at work, Health and Safety Executive, (2006). Fire. Guidance can be found on Insurance. Volunteering England has a list of insurers that specialise in charity insurance. Association of British Insurance Brokers, 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ. Tel: 020 7600 3333 or email: Website:



VOLUNTEER DRIVERS If your volunteers will be driving a car as part of their volunteering (not simply to get between home and the place of volunteering) there are a number of issues you may need to consider:

Driver When involving volunteer drivers you should consider the following:

Check the volunteer possesses a full driving licence, not a provisional one. It is up to the organisation to decide whether it will accept endorsements.

You should check the licence at the time of recruiting of the volunteer and at regular intervals afterwards to check it is valid and that there are no serious driving convictions.

So long as a younger driver is experienced enough and an older driver is in good health, age should not be a barrier to volunteer driving.

Drivers should be asked to sign a declaration about any disabilities or illnesses that may affect their ability to drive or assist passengers. If a driver has had a serious or lengthy illness, it is good practice for them to produce a certificate from their GP showing that they are fit to drive again.

If the volunteer will be driving children or vulnerable adults, a Criminal Records check should be undertaken and, from November 2010 should be registered with ISA (see page 25).

You may want to set a minimum requirement for driving experience.

You may wish to consider a driver’s ability through a short assessment drive.

Vehicle If the driver is using his or her own car as part of their volunteering role, you should check the following:

You need to feel reasonably confident that the vehicle is safe.

An MOT certificate should be provided for any vehicle over 3 years and it is good practice to see this.

Cars must have front and rear seatbelts and all passengers should wear them. In rear seats all passengers over 14 years are legally responsible for wearing a seatbelt; under 14 years it is the responsibility of the driver.

All drivers must have up-to-date insurance cover.

Insurance Although a driver only legally requires Third Party insurance, it is good practice for a driver to have Fully Comprehensive insurance. The organisation should also take out Public Liability insurance. If an organisation owns the vehicle being used, then it is responsible for arranging insurance. If the volunteer owns the vehicle, then they are responsible for arranging insurance. Owner drivers must inform their insurance company in writing that they will be driving in a voluntary capacity, otherwise the policy can be invalidated. This will result in the driver being personally liable for any damage or injuries sustained in an accident. Many organisations find it useful to provide a standard form for this purpose and Volunteering England has one to download from its website (see the Health and Safety Section of the Good Practice Bank). It is also good practice for the organisation to take out an insurance policy to protect volunteer drivers’ no-claims discounts. Should there be any problem with the insurance of the vehicle and a driver has an accident during their volunteering, the organisation could be held responsible whether or not it owns the vehicle. The organisation may wish take out a Contingent Liability Policy to protect it from risk.


Training It is good practice for drivers carrying elderly people, disabled people or children to receive training in picking up and setting down passengers. Training should also be given in disability awareness and customer care.

Breaks It is recommended that drivers should rest for at least 15 minutes every two hours within a journey and between journeys.

Minibus Driving For volunteer minibus drivers there are certain DVLA requirements depending on the seater size of the minibus. You should contact the Community Transport Association for up to date information (

Reimbursement of Expenses Volunteer drivers must only be reimbursed for expenses actually incurred otherwise besides running the risk of forming a contract of employment, this can invalidate the insurance policy if drivers are making a ‘profit’. The driver and the organisation also then become liable for tax and national insurance. Similarly statutory employment rights may apply and deductions can also be made from State Benefits.

Tax HM Revenue and Customs sets tax-free mileage rates for volunteer drivers of organised car schemes. The rates for 2010/11 are: On the first 10,000 miles in the tax year: On each mile over 10,000 miles in the tax year:

40p 25p

Thus if a driver was to receive more than these rates, this would be treated as profit and would be taxable. Many organisations find it useful to provide volunteers with profit tables to enable their volunteer drivers to read off a profit figure. These tables apply the standard tax-free allowances to the particular mileage allowances that they pay. Organisations paying volunteers at or below the tax-free mileage rates do not have to report payments to the Inland Revenue. Similarly, neither do volunteer drivers who receive payments at or below the tax-free mileage rate have to report payments to the Inland Revenue.

Further Information Community Transport Association (England and Wales). Tel 0845 1306195 IR22 Volunteer Drivers, HMRC, gives details of the approved mileage allowance and how to work out whether tax is due. DVLA website: Volunteer Drivers’ Handbook, Rural Transport Adviser for Herefordshire, Community First. ROSPA:


VOLUNTEERING AND BENEFITS Anybody in receipt of welfare benefits can volunteer without any loss to their benefits provided they are not paid money or anything else for their volunteering other than reimbursement of legitimate expenses incurred through the volunteering. Anything received on top of this may result in Jobcentre Plus no longer regarding them as volunteers, as they will be considered to have been paid for their work. It is compulsory for claimants to notify Benefits Advisers that they are volunteering and they will have to complete a form describing what they do. There is no duty for organisations to inform Jobcentre Plus or the Benefits Office about who is volunteering for them.

Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) People on JSA can do as much volunteering as they want provided they meet two key conditions:

Must be actively seeking work and taking the steps specified by Jobcentre Plus to find work.

Must be available for work. Volunteers much be able to start work with one week’s notice and be able to attend an interview for work at 48 hours notice.

Income Support Volunteering should not affect someone’s Income Support as long as they are not receiving any money other than genuine reimbursement for expenses.

Incapacity Benefit At one time people in receipt of Incapacity Benefit could only volunteer for a maximum of 16 hours. That restriction no longer applies and they can now volunteer for as long as they want provided they only receive out of pocket expenses and can attend a work focused interview when asked by Jobcentre Plus.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) This benefit was introduced in 2008 and replaces both Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of disability or incapacity. (Incapacity Benefit and Income Support will continue to be paid to existing claimants prior to Oct 2008). Regulations on ESA clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer.

Carer’s Allowance A person can still receive Carer’s Allowance and volunteer provided they:  Care for a disabled person for at least 35 hours a week and  They get the right disability benefit.

Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance Volunteering will not affect whether an individual receives this benefit or not but, as with other benefits, Jobcentre Plus must be notified.

Housing and Council Tax Benefits Volunteering does not affect Housing or Council Tax Benefits but, like other benefits, care should be taken to ensure that volunteers do not receive any money over and above out-of-pocket expenses. The volunteer should tell their local council about any volunteering they undertake.

Pension Credit Volunteering should not affect Pension Credits unless a person volunteers abroad for more than 4 weeks at a time. In this case the Pension Credit will be stopped.

Working Tax Credit The hours that a person volunteers do not count towards the hours that are taken in account when calculating Working Tax Credit.



An advance payment for expenses can be made as it can be difficult for people on low incomes to find money for travel and food, even if they will be reimbursed later. Any unspent portion of the expenses should be returned, or deducted from the next payment.

Receipts should be kept for all expenses as Jobcentre Plus may wish to see them.

Bear in mind that people in receipt of benefits are usually on very low incomes and cannot afford to volunteer if expenses are not payable and that they may need reimbursement very quickly possibly the same day and in cash.

Further Information Rules on volunteering while claiming state benefit are contained in Volunteering While On Benefits (DWP1023) available at Jobcentre Plus offices or downloadable from the Department of Work and Pensions website: Benefit Enquiry Line is a confidential phone service for disabled people and carers. Phone: 0800 882200


PROBLEMS Despite implementing all the good practices outlined in this guide, be prepared that sometimes things may go wrong with your volunteer programme. A volunteer may complain about another volunteer, a member of staff or about the organisation itself. Or someone may complain about a volunteer. It makes sense then to have clear and consistent procedures in place should such problems arise.

First Steps Minor issues, such as a volunteer not fitting into the team as well as was expected, not meeting the required standards when undertaking tasks or being unreliable are usually detected during regular supervision and may be quite easy to resolve without resorting to formal procedures. This checklist suggests how some issues can be dealt with:

A well thought-out induction pack, volunteer policy and role description should provide the volunteer with a good foundation on which to undertake their volunteering. However, you may need to remind the volunteer of the policies, ground-rules etc within your organisation.

Check if the volunteer has training needs. Everyone learns at a different pace and in a different way. Do you need to adapt your training materials, or change the way in which you deliver training so that it benefits the volunteer more effectively?

Is the volunteer feeling unfulfilled in their current role? Have their needs changed, or would they like to use different skills to help the organisation? If so, you could modify their role, ask them if they would like to work on another project or develop a completely new role for them.

Is the volunteer suffering from burn-out or no longer able to cope with the demands of the role? They may need a break from volunteering, or may prefer to volunteer in another organisation for a while. The volunteer may feel ready to retire from volunteering altogether. If your volunteer does decide to leave, thank them for their contribution. This demonstrates that they are valued by your organisation, and enables them to leave with honour.

Formal Steps If the issue isn’t resolved through regular supervision, or if a complaint is raised by a third party, then the problem will need to be dealt with on a more formal basis. Whereas grievance and disciplinary policies for paid staff are formal in their language and tone, the policy you write for volunteers needs to be written in clear language that is easy to understand. Volunteering England recommends that instead you have a problem-solving procedure for the following reasons:

If a volunteer has been treated unfairly then they are unlikely to stay with your organisation. Not only does this reduce your retention levels, but it also results in spending time, money and effort recruiting new volunteers – resources that could be put to more effective use elsewhere in your organisation.

If an organisation is unable to demonstrate a commitment to good practice in its volunteer management, or if the Volunteer Centre is concerned about how volunteers have been treated in the past, then the Volunteer Centre can refuse to advertise the organisation’s volunteering opportunities.

For branches and affiliates of national charities, bad publicity and a poor reputation can impact on other branches and affiliates as well as on the national organisation itself.

An example of what Problem Solving Procedures should contain can be found at Appendix 6 (page 59), but each organisation will need to write its own procedures to suit its individual situation. If you’re unsure as to what your problem solving procedure should be, you could consult your volunteers by getting them involved in designing the policy. As with all policies, review your problem solving procedures regularly to ensure that they are working effectively.


Some points to remember 

All complaints must be treated confidentially, and should only be discussed amongst those who are directly involved in trying to resolve the issue.

You may wish to include a policy on storing complaints and warnings on file. If you do, you need to decide how long they will be kept on record.

Ensure that you allow enough time for all meetings and that they are conducted somewhere where you will not be interrupted.

Keep complainants informed at every step of the procedure.

Set realistic timeframes for people to make complaints and for your organisation to respond.

If the person making the complaint is a service user, reassure them that their complaint will not affect their right to use your services. Service user volunteers should still be able to use your services, unless they are suspended while an investigation into an act of gross misconduct is carried out.

Suspension There are some occasions when volunteers can be suspended immediately while an investigation is carried out. These include, but are not limited to, acts that constitute gross misconduct, e.g. theft, assault, acts of violence, malicious damage, deliberate falsification of documents, harassment or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The decision to suspend a volunteer needs to be confirmed to the volunteer in writing. In some cases, legal proceedings may need to be concluded before the next step of your problem solving procedure can take place.

Dismissal If you do decide to ask the volunteer to leave, there are a few good practice tips to bear in mind:

Make sure that the meeting takes place in a confidential setting, where you are unlikely to be disturbed.

Be quick and direct. Do not back down. At this stage, the decision to ask the volunteer to leave has already been made.

Do not attempt to counsel the volunteer, as this will send confusing signals to them.

Expect the volunteer to express their emotions, but keep your emotions in check.

Follow up the meeting with a letter to re-iterate the decision to ask the volunteer to leave, as well as outlining the reasons for doing so. Include any information relating to their departure.

Inform staff, clients and other volunteers of the outcome, but do not give reasons for the volunteer’s departure.

If the volunteer had responsibilities for certain clients, make sure that the clients are informed of the new volunteer who will be assigned to them.

Volunteers have the right to be accompanied by a colleague, friend or union representative in any meetings that form part of the problem-solving process.

Further Information The Good Practice Guide: For everyone who works with volunteers, Kate Bowgett, Kathryn Dickie, Mark Restall, Volunteering England, (2002) Essential Volunteer Management, Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, Directory of Social Change, 2nd edition, (1998).


GOODBYES Helping Volunteers Move On Times will arise when a volunteer wishes to leave. This may be due to obvious reasons like finding paid employment or moving to a different area, but sometimes the reasons can be less straightforward. Don’t let them leave without discussing with them carefully the reasons why, otherwise you may find your exvolunteer criticising your organisation to the general public. One reason may be that the volunteer is no longer happy carrying out the role. It may be possible to change their role or adapt it in some way to suit them better. Sometimes older volunteers feel they should leave because, for example, they are finding their role physically difficult. Some organisations also have upper age limits on certain types of volunteering and are unable to obtain insurance cover for certain types of volunteer roles, so look at alternative roles. As we all know, age is no indicator of capability. If there is no alternative role or the volunteer still wishes to leave, then refer him/her to the Volunteer Centre at Herefordshire Voluntary Action. The staff will be able to discuss with the individual the reasons why they volunteer and provide a variety of other options.

When You Want The Volunteer To Move On One of the nightmares of any organisation is the difficult volunteer they would like to ‘fire’. For many, this prospect creates severe stress both over the appropriateness of the action and over the fear of possible legal consequences. The course of action to take will be set out in an organisation’s problem solving procedures (see page 49). However there are many reasons why a person may be behaving inappropriately and some of these reasons may have answers other than resorting to the problem solving procedures or dismissal. Look at these alternatives to firing:

Revise the supervision - You may have a volunteer who does not understand that you have rules to be followed. Reinforcement could resolve the problem.

Re-assign - Give the volunteer a new role. On the basis of a short interview you may have misread their skills or interests. They may simply not be getting along with the staff or other volunteers with whom they are working. Try them in a new setting and see what happens.

Re-train - Some people take longer than others to learn new skills. Give them a refresher course or try a new approach such as one-to-one mentoring rather than a formal training course.

Re-vitalise - A long-serving volunteer may be getting bored, losing motivation or becoming overburdened if the volunteering is stressful and demanding. The volunteer may not even realise that they’re burnt out. Give them a sabbatical and let them recharge or transfer them temporarily to something less emotionally draining.

Refer - Maybe they need a new environment. Refer them to Herefordshire Volunteer Centre or arrange a swap of volunteers with another organisation.

Retire - Some older volunteers try to keep going but find it increasingly difficult. They may even become a danger to themselves and others. Find something else for them to do or again, refer them to Herefordshire Volunteer Centre. Give them the dignity they deserve and ensure that they do not end their volunteer careers in a way they will regret.

Exit interviews If you have a high turnover of volunteers one of the best ways of finding out if there is a specific problem is to talk to leaving volunteers. This could be through a questionnaire or an informal chat with someone in the organisation other than the volunteer’s supervisor. Even if you do not think there is a problem exit interviews are a useful tool for monitoring your involvement of volunteers. People leaving the organisation are likely to be more frank than they would otherwise be. A sample of a form that could be used for volunteer leavers can be found at Appendix 8 page 61.


Appendix 1: SAMPLE VOLUNTEER POLICY [Name of Organisation] especially values and respects the time, skills and enthusiasm of volunteers and actively encourages their participation and involvement in all the organisation’s activities. This policy is guided by the following principles:

Our Commitment to Volunteers ([Name of Organisation} is committed to encouraging the following good practices:

Equal opportunities and promoting anti-discriminatory practice – volunteering is open to everyone.

Volunteers should not be used to replace or reduce the work of paid employees.

Paid employees should work positively with volunteers and where appropriate will actively seek to involve them in their work.

To provide support, encouragement and training for volunteers to achieve personal development.

Volunteers are given satisfying and rewarding opportunities.

Volunteers are given information about [name of organisation] and a clear description of the tasks they have agreed to.

Volunteers will be allocated a named supervisor whom they can approach to discuss any problems or concerns and the volunteer’s work will be reviewed at regular intervals.

Volunteers will be made aware of the relevant screening processes e.g. references and police checks.

Travel and other appropriate out of pocket expenses will be offered to all volunteers.

Volunteers work in a safe and healthy environment as far as reasonably practicable.

Volunteers are made aware of all relevant policies and are enabled to understand and implement them.

Volunteers will be covered by the relevant insurance policies of [name of organisation].

Volunteers may have access to their own personal records held by [name of organisation].

Volunteer Commitment to [name of organisation] [name or organisation] expects its volunteers:

Should be committed to the aims of [name of organisation]

To carry out the tasks they have agreed to undertake and to inform [name of organisation] of any changes in their circumstances which might affect their ability to volunteer.

To maintain confidentiality in all aspects of their work and comply with all [name of organisation] policies.

To undertake training where it is a requirement of the tasks they have agreed to do.

[name of organisation] is a non party-political and a non-denominational organisation. Volunteers who work for the organisation should not attempt to promote their religious, cultural or political views whilst in work.


Implementation of Policy When considering involving volunteers in the organisation, staff must first identify that the task does not replace a paid worker.

Recruitment All prospective volunteers will complete the Volunteer Registration Form and be informally interviewed by the project leader or other nominated member of staff. This meeting will provide an opportunity for the prospective volunteer to find out about the organisation and the work they will be expected to undertake. Similarly it will also enable [name of organisation] to ensure that the volunteer’s needs, skills and interests are most suitably matched to the volunteering role. Two personal references from non-family members will be sought. Where volunteers will be working with children or vulnerable adults, standard or enhanced disclosures will be undertaken.

Volunteer Agreement and Role Description All volunteers will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement which sets out [name of organisation] commitment and expectations, along with the role description or specific tasks that the volunteer will undertake. The agreement is not a contract.

Induction, Information and Training On their first day, volunteers will receive a full induction which will include an introduction to the Volunteer Handbook and all policies held in place by [name of organisation].

Support and Supervision Each volunteer will be supported and supervised by a designated member of staff and regular meetings will be held to discuss any matters of concern, review activity and to identify any training and development needs. In some projects these meetings can be undertaken on a group basis but some volunteers may wish for a one to one session.

Expenses Volunteers should not be out of pocket by volunteering with [name of organisation]. Volunteers will be reimbursed appropriate expenses.

Insurance [name of organisation] will ensure that all its volunteers are covered by appropriate insurance whilst undertaking approved work for the organisation.

Policies Volunteers will work to the policies of [name of organisation] and will be asked to sign the policies on Confidentiality, Data Protection, Health and Safety and IT.

Recognition Every member of staff has a responsibility to acknowledge the contribution, enthusiasm and willingness that volunteers bring to the organisation. [name of organisation] will always strive to provide a friendly working environment for its volunteers and one where they feel supported and valued.

Compliments, Comments and Complaints [name of organisation] welcomes feedback from all its volunteers on any aspect of its work.

[name of organisation] aims to resolve any problems experienced by volunteers at the earliest opportunity through their designated supervisor.


Appendix 2: SAMPLE VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT Volunteers are an important and valued part of [organisation name]. We hope that you enjoy volunteering with us and feel a full part of our team. This agreement tells you what you can expect from us, and what we hope from you. We aim to be flexible, so please let us know if you would like to make any changes and we will do our best to accommodate them. As a volunteer with [organisation name], you can expect:

An induction on how the organisation works and your role in it.

A supportive, safe and positive environment so that you enjoy your volunteering.

To be treated fairly and with courtesy.

That your skills, dignity and individual wishes will be respected.

Opportunities to undertake appropriate training.

A named contact for support.

Reimbursement of reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred in your course of volunteering.

To be kept up to date and informed of possible changes.

To be insured against injury you suffer or cause due to negligence.

In return we ask that you:

Support our aims and objectives.

Work reliably to the best of your ability.

Are open and honest in your dealings with us.

Treat fellow volunteers and staff with courtesy and respect.

Give as much warning as possible whenever you cannot volunteer.

Let us know if you wish to change the nature of your contribution.

Follow [organisation name]’s rules and procedures, including health and safety, equal opportunities and confidentiality.

Let us know if we can improve the service and support your receive.

This agreement is binding in honour only, is not intended to be a legally binding contract between us and may be cancelled at any time at the discretion of either party. Neither of us intends any employment relationship to be created, either now or at any time in the future.





To co-ordinate and support the weekly Knit and Natter group in Hereford

Day and Hours:

Tuesday 1.00pm-3.30pm

Responsible to:

Step Up Co-ordinator

Main duties 

Meet and greet existing members of the group and also greet and introduce new members.

Promote and develop craft work, including teaching new skills.

Develop and maintain members’ skills and interests.

Manage and support the members of the group.

Provide additional one to one support and contact for members when needed.

Liaise and provide feedback to the Step Up Co-ordinator.

Where appropriate, liaise with other project staff based in HVA’s Hereford office.

Undertake mail shots and/or additional publicity as and when required by HVA.

Help with selling the items produced by the group for the benefit of a local charity (to be agreed by the group).

Organise teas and coffees and collect payment from group members.

Person specification 

Friendly, positive and polite attitude.

Ability to relate to all people from all walks of life.

Good communication skills.

Respectful of confidentiality.

Ability to work as part of a team.

Ability to work on your own initiative.

Commitments to the aims of HVA and the community and voluntary sector.

Appreciation of the needs of people seeking information, advice and guidance.

Training: There is no specific training required for this role but suitable courses may be identified by the Step Up Co-ordinator.


Appendix 4 : SAMPLE EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY MONITORING FORM The equality and diversity monitoring will not be keep with your registration form. This is to ensure that we do not discriminate against any minority group. We use this monitoring information for statistical data and for planning our services.

Please tick as appropriate: Gender Male Female __________________________________________________________________ Age group under 15 30-34 50-54 15-18 35-39 55-59 19-25 40-44 60-64 26-29 45-49 65+ _________________________________________________________________________ Work Status Employed Not employed (by choice) Unable to Work Unemployed (seeking work) Retired Student __________________________________________________________________ Ethnicity White British Irish Traveller Romany/Gypsy Other* Black










White/Black African

White/Black Caribbean





Please specify:

__________________________________________________________________ Do you have a disability Yes


How did you hear about us ?






Volunteer Registration Form completed Two references taken out Role description checked and edited if necessary Disclosure undertaken where appropriate Put together induction pack

Induction Pack to include

Welcome Letter Summary of [organisational] project, client group and services offered.

Volunteer Agreement Volunteer Information Policies: Volunteer Policy Diversity and Equal Opportunities Health and Safety (needs to be signed) Problem Solving Confidentiality (needs to be signed) Data Protection (needs to be signed) Information Technology (needs to be signed) Emergency Contact Form Expenses Claim form


Practical Details Done




Tour of office/project Introduction to other staff and volunteers Work space (e.g. access to computer/telephone) Refreshments First Aid Fire Drill

Office Procedures

Telephone system Photocopier/computer system etc Mail system What’s kept where (e.g. stationery, stamps)

Supervision/Training/Development Done

Volunteer provided with named contact

Training identified and arranged



APPENDIX 6: PROBLEM SOLVING PROCEDURES—WHAT TO INCLUDE If a volunteer makes a complaint This part of the problem solving procedure gives the volunteer the opportunity to complain if they have been unfairly treated or if they have an issue or a cause for concern within the organisation.

Stage 1 - Oral complaint Initial complaints, whether against a member of staff, the organisation or another volunteer, should be discussed with the volunteer. If the complaint is about the volunteer manager, then the matter should be referred to another manager. (This person can be named here). During this meeting the volunteer can be accompanied by a nominated person of their choice. If the issue cannot be resolved at this stage then the volunteer should proceed to stage 2.

Stage 2 - In writing If the volunteer is not satisfied with the outcome of the oral complaint, they should make a formal complaint in writing to a more senior member of staff. (This person can be named here) and there should also be a set timeframe within which the volunteer can make the formal complaint. Following on from this, the organisation should also set a timeframe in which they will respond in writing.

Stage 3 - Opportunity to appeal If the volunteer is not satisfied with the outcome, then they can appeal to a member of the management committee, usually the Chair. In some organisations a sub-committee can be formed specifically to deal with complaints. The volunteer can have a nominated person present at this meeting. The Chair or subcommittee will need to respond within a specified time, and their decision is final. Unfortunately, volunteers have no legal rights unless they can prove that they are in fact employees, or that the organisation has been negligent in its duty of care towards the volunteer.

If a complaint is made against a volunteer This part of the problem solving procedure gives the volunteer the opportunity to be told why a complaint has arisen, the opportunity to state their case and the chance to appeal.

Stage 1 – Oral discussion The first step is to discuss the complaint with the volunteer. There could be external factors influencing their ability to carry out tasks, their behaviour or their attitude. Identify goals that will help the volunteer to fulfill their role, and offer extra support, supervision and training where necessary. Agree a deadline for reviewing the situation with the volunteer. If the complaint was raised by someone else, keep them informed of the measures you are taking to rectify the situation. If you would prefer complaints to be put in writing, then state this in your problem solving procedure.

Stage 2 – Written warning If the issue hasn’t been resolved by the oral discussion or the review, then the volunteer manager can issue the volunteer with a written warning outlining the reason for the complaint. The volunteer should be given the opportunity to state their case, which could be to either the volunteer manager or a senior member of staff. The volunteer should also be allowed to be accompanied by a person of their choice. Depending on the nature of the complaint, further objectives could be set and help offered to the volunteer. However, if the organisation decides to ask the volunteer to leave, then the volunteer should be given the opportunity to appeal. The decision to ask a volunteer to leave should be a last resort.

Stage 3 - Opportunity to appeal If a volunteer has been asked to leave then they should appeal in writing to a member of the management committee, usually the Chair. Sometimes a sub-committee can be formed specifically to hear appeals. The volunteer should be invited to have a nominated person present at this meeting. The Chair or sub-committee will need to respond within a specified time, and their decision is final.


Organisation Name:

Date of Risk Assessment: Step 2 Who might be harmed and how?

Step 3 What are you already doing?

What further action is necessary?

Spot hazards by:

Identify groups of people. Remember: •Some people have particular needs • People who may not be in the workplace all the time •Members of the public

List what is already in place to reduce the likelihood of harm or make any harm less serious.

You need to make sure that you have reduced Remember to prioritise. Deal with those hazards that risks ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. An are high risk and have serious consequences first. easy way of doing this is to compare what you are already doing with good practice. If there is a difference, list what needs to be done.

•Walking around the workplace • Asking your employees and volunteers what they think

•Visiting the HSE website •Checking manufacturers’ instructions Don’t forget long-term health hazards.

Step 4 How will you put the assessment into action?

•If you share your workplace think about how your work affects others present Say how the hazard could cause harm. Action by

Action by when Done

60 Step 5 Review date:

Review your assessment to make sure you are improving or at least not sliding back. If there is a significant change in your workplace, remember to check your risk assessment and, where necessary, amend it.


Step 1 What are the hazards?

Appendix 8: VOLUNTEER AND VOLUNTEER LEAVER FORM—TEMPLATE We are always striving to ensure that our volunteers enjoy their time with us. As one of our volunteers, we would welcome your views on identifying areas where we can improve. Please complete the following questionnaire as honestly as you can, criticisms ensure that other volunteers receive the best possible treatment from us. Name:

What was the best experience you had whilst volunteering with us?

What was the worst experience?

To what extent did you feel accepted by the staff and other volunteers?  Well accepted  Generally well excepted but there were some exceptions  Generally not well accepted, but there were some exceptions  Not well accepted  Other (please state):

Did you feel comfortable with the tasks you were given?  Yes  No  Don’t Know  Other (please state):

As a volunteer with us did you feel that you were given sufficient information about the organisation and how it works when you started?  Yes  No  Can’t remember  Other (please state):

Do you feel that you received enough training to enable you to carry out the tasks assigned to you?  Yes  No  Don’t Know


Did you find your volunteering experience interesting, challenging and rewarding?  Yes  No  Don’t Know Did you feel that the contribution you made was appreciated and valued?  Yes  No  Don’t Know Reasons for leaving


Tasks completed Did not like the role No longer have the time Moving away from the area Felt under utilised Needed a change Obtained paid employment Other (please state):

Did you you attend atwith the project? If YES, Did attend any any training training courses courseswhilst whilstvolunteering volunteering us? If Yes, what were were the the names names of what of the the courses? courses?

Please feel free to add any other comments or suggestions you feel relate to the way we managed and supported you as a volunteer.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this form. All information gathered will be used to improve the services provided to future volunteers.



Herefordshire Volunteer Centre Herefordshire Voluntary Action Berrows Business Centre, Bath Street, Hereford HR1 2HE Tel: 01432 343932 Email: Charity no:1096451 64Company no:4625595

Volunteer Good Practice Guide  
Volunteer Good Practice Guide  

Information for organisations working with volunteers