This volunteer policy sets out the principles and practice by which we involve volunteers and is relevant to staff, volunteers and trustees within the organisation. It aims to create a common understanding and to clarify roles and responsibilities to ensure the highest standards are maintained in relation to the management of volunteers.
The volunteer handbook (to be produced) gives further details about the support and procedures in place for volunteers.
What is volunteering?
Volunteering is an activity which is:
- of benefit to the community and the volunteer
- undertaken by the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion
- done for no financial gain
- in a volunteer position that is not designated as a paid role
- underpinned by the Principles of Volunteering
Principles Of Volunteering:
- Volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer
- Volunteering is always a matter of choice
- Volunteering is an activity that is unpaid and not undertaken for the receipt of any financial gain
- Volunteering is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community
- Volunteering is a vehicle for individuals or groups to address, social, economic, religious, cultural, environmental or other needs
- Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers
- Volunteering respects the rights, dignity and culture of others
- Volunteering promotes human rights and equality
Defining a volunteer?
Volunteers are individuals who undertake activity on behalf of our Charity, unpaid and of their own free choice.
Volunteer involvement may constitute, full-time, part-time, casual or regular hours, or a short, medium or long-term period. In establishing a volunteers’ involvement, it is a mutual agreement between all parties concerned.
They may be involved:
- in the direct or indirect delivery of our services
- on any sub-committee or steering group to support the Trustees of the Charity
- in community development and engagement to raise awareness
- in anything that is of mutual benefit for the volunteer and the Charity
Volunteers are valued for:
- bringing additional skills and new perspectives to the Charity
- enabling us to be more responsive and flexible in our approach
- championing our cause within the wider community
- enhancing the quality of our work and of the beneficiaries experience
- promoting the wellbeing of beneficiaries, staff, local communities and themselves
The Universal Declaration on Volunteering (An abstract, IAVE 2001, International Year of Volunteers)
This abstract, is an excellent summary that captures the Charities ethos towards volunteering.
Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society. It brings to life the noblest aspirations of humankind – the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people.
Volunteering – either through individual or group action – is a way in which:
- human values such as community, caring, and serving can be sustained and strengthened
- individuals can exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of communities, while learning and growing throughout their lives, realizing their full potential
- connections can be made across differences that push us apart so that we can live together in healthy, sustainable communities, working together to provide innovative solutions to our shared challenges and to shape our collective destinies
- provides a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves
- enables others to participate as volunteers
- promotes family and community unity
- builds healthy, sustainable communities
- empowers people to exercise their rights as human beings
- helps solve social, cultural, economic and environmental problems
This Declaration supports the right of every woman, man and child to associate freely and to volunteer regardless of their cultural and ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, and physical, social or economic condition. All people in the world should have the right to freely offer their time, talent, and energy to others and to their communities through individual and collective action, without expectation of financial reward.
We recognise volunteers as an integral part of the Charity. Their contribution supports our purpose and aims, and complements the role of paid staff. We aim to encourage and support volunteer involvement to ensure that volunteering benefits the Charity, its beneficiaries and the volunteers themselves.
Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that paid staff are clear about the role of volunteers, and to foster good working relationships between paid staff and volunteers. Volunteers will not be used to replace staff.
We are committed to offering a flexible range of opportunities and to encouraging a diversity of people to volunteer with us, including those from under-represented groups.
We will endeavour to ensure procedures and appropriate resources are available for the development and support of volunteering. We recognise that people have a right to participate in the life of their communities through volunteering and can contribute in many ways. We recognise our responsibility to organise volunteering efficiently and sensitively so that the valuable gift of the volunteer’s time is best used to the mutual advantage of all concerned.
A volunteer’s responsibilities include:
- being reliable
- respecting privacy and confidentiality
- carrying out your volunteering role as specified in your role descriptor
- being accountable for your own actions
- being committed to the services of the Charity
- undertaking training as requested
- asking for support or assistance when you need it
- giving notice before you leave
- valuing and supporting other members of the team
- carrying out the work you’ve agreed to do responsibly and ethically
- to be effective and efficient in your role
The Charity expects volunteers:
- to be reliable and honest
- to uphold the Charitie’s values and comply with all policies and procedures
- to endeavour make the most of the opportunities available, such as training or participating in the services that the Charity offers
- to contribute positively to the purpose of the Charity and ensure the Charity is not brought into disrepute
- to carry out roles, activities, duties or tasks within agreed guidelines
Volunteers can expect:
- to have clear information about what is and is not expected of them
- to receive reasonable support and training subject to resources
- to be insured and to volunteer in a safe environment
- to be treated with respect and in a non-discriminatory manner
- to receive out of pocket expenses
- to have opportunities for personal or professional development
- to be recognised and appreciated
- to be able to say ‘no’ to anything which they consider to be unrealistic or unreasonable
- to know what to do if something goes wrong
Roles and responsibilities
All volunteers will have a designated trustee/staff member/volunteer for guidance, support and supervision.
The volunteer role is based on trust and mutual understanding. There is no enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise, for the volunteer to attend or to undertake particular tasks or for the Charity to provide continuing opportunities for voluntary involvement, provision of training or benefits.
However, there is a presumption of mutual support and reliability. Reciprocal expectations are acknowledged; both of what the Charity expects of volunteers and what volunteers expect of the Charity.
The Charity operates an equal opportunities policy, in accordance with the Equalities Act 2010. A copy will be made available during induction/training. You will be expected to have a working understanding of and commitment to our equal opportunities policy.
Health and safety
Volunteers are covered by the Charitie’s Health and Safety Policy. A copy will be made available during induction/training. You will be expected to have a working understanding of and commitment to our Health and Safety Policy.
Recruitment and selection
Equal opportunities principles will be adhered to when recruiting volunteers. Opportunities will be widely promoted, so as to attract interest from different sectors of the community. Positive action to target recruitment may be used where appropriate. Online application is encouraged but non-digital methods of application are also available.
Information will be made available to those enquiring about volunteering, including written role descriptions which set out the nature and purpose of the volunteering role, key tasks, skills required and benefits. Where there is a requirement for a full DBS disclosure check, the Charity will carry out one, which will be arranged by the Charity. DBS disclosures are dealt with in the strictest confidence. A criminal record is not necessarily a bar to volunteering. We will assess any criminal record information that is disclosed in line with services and relevant policies and procedures.
Subject to where the volunteer wishes to volunteer within the Charity, a due process to recruitment will take place, usually involving an informal interview, an application form and the taking up of references. A risk assessment will be undertaken on all volunteer roles.
Where applicants are not able to be placed in their preferred role, they will be provided with feedback and given the opportunity to discuss alternative volunteering roles.
Agreeing to become a volunteer is a mutual partnership agreement between yourself the volunteer and the Charity, with an understanding that both parties will benefit, in line with the purpose of volunteering. If you are selected and wish to proceed with volunteering at our Charity, you will be asked to sign a Volunteer Agreement.
A volunteer agreement is a statement of intent between you and us; outlining the key principles applicable between both parties.
Induction and training
We will provide an induction programme and training appropriate to the specific volunteering opportunity to be undertaken for all new volunteers, thereby enabling all volunteers to undertake their roles safely and confidently, and then where resources permit ongoing training that benefits the personal and professional development of all volunteers and the services of the Charity.
Support and supervision
All volunteers will be offered appropriate support, in line with their agreed volunteering role.
Where agreed, supervision meetings between volunteers and a nominated person from the Charity may take place, however this may not be appropriate for all forms of volunteer involvement.
Supervision meetings will ensure there is a systematic and a formal opportunity for a two way conversation. They give the opportunity for a volunteer or supervisor to raise issues which may be personal and confidential. They also create an opportunity to develop a common understanding of what is expected and what is happening.
The purpose of volunteer supervision is:
- to provide a regular space for reflection and communication
- to reinforce ethos, policy and practice within the Charity
- to exchange information and feedback
- to raise any personal issues or concerns
- to specifically discuss a volunteer’s personal development plan
- to consider providing any appropriate support needed
- to ensure that the Charity and volunteer adheres to good practise/standards
Where there is supervision agreed the volunteer will be supervised in accordance with the Charitie’s Supervision Framework.
Volunteers will be given the opportunity, where appropriate, to share their views and opinions, within the administration and management of the Charity and its associated projects.
Dealing with problems
The Charity aims to treat all volunteers fairly, objectively and consistently. It seeks to ensure that volunteers’ views are heard, noted and acted upon promptly.
We will attempt to deal with any problems informally and at the earliest opportunity. All volunteers will have a named person to whom they can turn in the case of any difficulty. Where informal resolution is not possible, the Charitie’s Complaints Policy will be adhered to. Expenses
Volunteers will be given clear information about what expenses can be claimed and how to make a claim.
In our work with children / young people / adults who may be at risk due to age, illness or disability, the Charity will endeavour at all times to provide services and activities which minimise risk and are as safe as we can possibly make them.
We aim to protect our service users from harm or maltreatment, prevent the impairment of health or development, ensure the provision of safe and effective care, promote people’s life chances and ensure children enter adulthood successfully.
We will work in partnership with other local / national agencies to put in place appropriate procedures for reporting, making referrals, accessing training and specialist support, as and when required.
The Charity will seek to recruit using appropriate procedures, safeguards and checks.
We will regularly review our recruitment and selection procedures in response to changes in legislation and good practise from appropriate authorities and organisations.
Awareness of harm and abuse
Harm, significant or otherwise is caused by accidents, deliberate abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, financial), neglect (deliberate or not) or factors such as bullying, prejudicial attitudes or a failure to enable a person to participate in activities that are open to others.
All incidents of harm to anyone involved in our service will require an appropriate response to reduce risks and improve our services.
Deliberate acts of harm (sexual, physical, emotional and financial) and neglect are abuses against the person and will incur disciplinary proceedings in line with our Safeguarding Policy, which is likely to involve statutory agencies including the police.
Confidentiality: there is nothing in legislation that prevents the sensible sharing of relevant information to prevent harm to an individual or to assist in the prevention or detection of a crime.
If as a volunteer you are privy to confidential information about the Charity in any manner whatsoever, you are obliged to abide by the principles governing confidentiality as outlined in our Confidential Policy and One-way Non-disclosure Policy.
Broadly speaking as a volunteer you are:
- Required to maintain confidentiality regarding any information involving the Charity that the Charity believes to be confidential.
- Information must not be disclosed to anyone outside the Charity or to others within the Charity, unless express permission is given to do so by an appropriate authority.
- Breaches of confidentiality will result in disciplinary action or termination of the Volunteer’s Agreement with the Charity, other than where the volunteer can show specific circumstances that justify the breach.
- Liable for any financial costs, loss or otherwise as a result of your breach.
- You are responsible to establish what information is or is not confidential, and where in doubt to seek clarification from an appropriate representative of the Charity (normally a Trustee), who is in a position to determine your request.
- You are bound by the same requirements as other members of the Charity, such as staff and Trustees
During your induction / training, you will be asked to sign the relevant policy documents.