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Why volunteer? What can you do? How to get involved Hints & Tips

Welcome Why volunteer? What can you do? How to get involved Hints & Tips


Welcome to the University of Plymouth Students’ Union’s Guide to Volunteering, and thank you for finding out more about volunteering with us. Volunteering gives students valuable skills, knowledge and practical experience that cannot be achieved from academic studies alone and therefore gives a more rounded student experience, valuable transferable skills and the opportunity to interact with the community in which they live. It will also give you the chance to do something completely different and challenging! We aim to provide students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills through experience, training and accreditation.

This guide is designed to give you an overview of how to get involved in volunteering here at UPSU, to let you know where to find out more information, and to outline some of the key things you need to know to get the best out of your volunteering. Check out the volunteer pages at for the full Volunteer Policy, and lots of other useful info, contacts and advice. We look forward to meeting you soon! The Volunteer Department Team

Why volunteer? As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to make a real difference to your local community. During the course of your volunteering, you will also get:

* The chance to gain work

*To meet new people,

*The opportunity to develop

*The chance to find out more

experience within a supportive and positive environment.

interests and learn new skills through regular access to training, informal learning activities and supervision.

and expand your social and professional networks.

about the issues surrounding your chosen volunteering group/ project/activity.

What can you do as a volunteer?

You may have a very clear idea of the area that you wish to work in already, however not everyone is sure about the area in which they would like to volunteer as they do not know what is on offer in the local community for example, and others may be interested in several different activities and want to gain experience in different areas. If you are unsure about what you would like to do, don’t worry. We have information on a vast range of activities and projects; from one-off events, those that run twice a term, to the more time intensive opportunities that require a commitment of three hours a week or more. We are happy to arrange for you to ‘try out’ and visit several projects in order to find the right opportunity.

Here are a few examples of the types of things you can do: Assisting with English classes for refugees and asylum seekers. Conservation work and gardening activities at community projects. Help with after-school arts clubs or football sessions. Running dj workshops or media projects at Youth Clubs. Assisting with the designing and running of events for local charities. Serving lunches and assisting with exercise classes for older members of the community. Science projects within schools or with the open air laboratories group. Being an online mentor for anti-bullying programmes. Taking part in sports and cultural events for young people across Devon and Cornwall as part of the RELAYS project…. and many more!

How to get involved? in 7 easy steps

1 Check out this Guide and the volunteer pages on www.upsu. com for information on projects and volunteering opportunities, and the full Volunteer Policy and guidelines.

2 Join the UPSU Volunteers

facebook fan page at Follow us on Twitter

3 Complete the Volunteer

Enrolment form. This can be picked up from the Volunteer Department which is situated in the Hive in the Students’ Union, or downloaded from the volunteering pages on www. If you require assistance with the completing of the form contact the Volunteer Office.

4 Once we have your form

you will be invited to come and meet with a staff member to discuss your interests and to receive information on opportunities and activities.

5 Sign up for any relevant

training. Visit the training section on the volunteer pages for all the info.

6 Visit your chosen projects and activities and start volunteering!

7 Keep in touch and tell us how you are getting on.

Hints & Tips for successful volunteering We want you to have the best possible experience as a volunteer. Use this section as a reference throughout your time volunteering.

Choice You can use the volunteer pages on, our facebook page or the regular surgery times with a Volunteer Co-ordinator to help you chose an opportunity. It is your right to make this choice, you should remember that a few opportunities may have restrictions for example on times, age or commitment. You also have the right to change projects or withdraw from volunteering giving the appropriate notice. Please think carefully about the commitment you are able to make (remembering going home for weekends, friends, academic work and exams etc) and please do not make a commitment you are unable to complete.

Your rights and responsibilities As a volunteer you have rights and responsibilities and these will be explained to you at your induction. They are designed to give you a voice, and to ensure that your volunteering is of real benefit to yourself and the community. They also highlight that as a volunteer with UPSU you are acting as an ambassador for us and as such should behave in an appropriate manner. All the rights and responsibilities are on the volunteer pages at www. or available from the Volunteer Department.

Hints & Tips continued

Settling In Whether you are new to volunteering or a dab-hand, you may like to ask for a ‘settlingin’ period. This could involve visiting the project a few times before you start, shadowing another volunteer or having a trial period before you commit to longer term involvement. This process will help build your confidence, enable you to find out more about the organisation and get to know others before you start.

Feedback & Ideas We value your thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences! If you have any comments or criticisms about any of the projects please let us know so we can work towards improving our service to you. .

Reliability Volunteers are highly valued by organisations and contribute significantly to their mission and work. It is therefore essential that they are able to rely on you. Please let your organisation/ project know if you are unable to attend and inform them of any changes of circumstances that will affect your volunteering.

Ongoing support All volunteers will have the UPSU Volunteer Department as their main contact and are there to support you throughout the year. In addition to this you will have the volunteer co-ordinator or project leader for the area in which you volunteer. The co-ordinators/ project leaders will support all volunteers and will have regular meetings with volunteers to discuss any problems or issues that may arise. You can ask for a meeting with a member of the Volunteer Department at anytime throughout the academic year and can make the arrangements in person, via email or by phone.

Safety All volunteers are covered by our insurance policy whilst volunteering with activities facilitated by UPSU. In addition to this, all the community groups that UPSU works with have a valid insurance policy and we ensure that you will volunteer in conditions that are safe and healthy.

Hints & Tips continued


Future Plans

Please let us know of any problems within your volunteering activity and we will endeavour to support you to overcome them. You should also meet and talk regularly with the person responsible for you at your project. This will help chart your progress and development and will help to avoid any hiccups.

Volunteering is a great way to develop skills which will make you more employable. Think carefully about your strengths and weaknesses – what do you hope to develop or learn? How will you do this? UPSU has a dedicated Training Advisor who develops and delivers a programme of training courses and activities throughout the academic year, and can advise you on informal learning opportunities available through the University. If you have any specific training needs we can assist with organising this for you.

Socials Socials are a great way to keep in touch with volunteers and to meet new people on other projects, and to celebrate your achievements. ViP run a series of socials throughout the year.

Volunteering can be a good way to test our career choices – the Volunteer Department can tell you more about this. UPSU will also provide you with a reference if you require one, or will act as a referee, for a period of 12 months after you either finish your volunteering activities, or graduate.

Do something more Some of the most successful community volunteering is led entirely by students, all is takes is an idea‌.Volunteer in Plymouth (ViP) is the UPSU volunteering society and is run by a student committee. You work within a team so it’s a great way to meet new people and get all the help and support you need.

Being part of the committee provides students with the opportunity to develop skills such as leadership, project planning, teamwork skills and the Volunteer Project Coordinator works with them to enable the appropriate training to be available and assist with their developments. So if you have an idea that you would like to become a reality, or would like to get involved in the Committee then please contact the Volunteer Department. Visit us: Volunteer Office is located in the Hive in the Students’ Union

UPSU Volunteer Handbook  

A guide to Volunteering at UPSU

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