Would you like more volunteers?
The Volunteer Centre acts as a broker between organisations wishing to recruit volunteers and people interested in volunteering.
We have a database of over 100 locally available volunteer opportunities. The database lets us search by postcode, area of interest, specific organisations, time availability or type of activity, so it’s easy to compare opportunities and find the ones that best meet the needs and aspirations of the volunteer.
This database is linked to the national volunteering website www.do-it.org.uk, so that potential volunteers can find the information wherever they are via the web.
To add your volunteer opportunities to this growing list, you will need to complete an Opportunity Registration Form for each opportunity you would like to advertise. Once we receive all your details, we’ll enter them onto the database. We can also distribute leaflets, include your opportunity in our volunteer newsletters and send press releases to local press informing them of any new announcements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an accepted definition of the word ‘volunteer’?
Because there is no legal definition of what a ‘volunteer’ is the word is used by different people and different sectors to mean different things. A Volunteer however in general terms describes a person or persons who offer their time freely to help others in a variety of roles.
Who should we accept as a referee for a volunteer?
Obtaining references does give you, and your clients, added security. References can add to your picture of a volunteer, helping you to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and occasionally alerting you to serious problems. They also help to confirm the volunteer is who they say they are. However you should bear in mind that a lot of potential volunteers may not have been employed, or may have been out of employment for some time. In order to avoid creating barriers you will need to be flexible about who you will accept a reference from. As well as previous employers you could think about suggesting social workers, probation officers, religious ministers, tutors, people working in day centres etc. that the volunteer attends or anyone else that they have an official relationship with. Some organisations actually decide that they want at least one reference to be a personal reference from a friend because these are the people who know the volunteer best. Also think about the length of time you want the referee to have known the volunteer, if you ask for too long a period of time you will again be creating barriers for many people.
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 why you take references, what you ask and what you do with them. Application forms that just ask for two referees and don’t explain why or who would be suitable may well result in some people not taking their application any further.
Occasionally someone will want to volunteer for you who is completely unable to provide a reference (i.e. an asylum seeker who has not been in the country very long). You will need to make a balanced assessment of the risks involved and decide whether there is a safe way of involving them. You may be able to adapt some of your procedures. For example, involving them only in group activities for the first few months while you get to know them better. If you do this you will have to explain to the volunteer why they are being treated differently so that they do not feel singled out.
Will it cost us anything to Police Check our volunteers?
There is no cost for disclosures for volunteers. When the CRB was announced there were fears that the fee for volunteers would be the same as for paid staff. At the time of writing this is now £28 for standard disclosures, and £33 for enhanced level checks. Organisations would have been faced with either bearing a substantial cost, or passing the fees on to their volunteers. This would have created a massive financial barrier to volunteering. The volunteering sector fought a robust campaign to ensure that checks for volunteers would be free.
However, although the disclosures are free, organisations still need to pay the £300 registration fee. Organisations that cannot or choose not to pay the registration fee must rely on finding an umbrella organisation. This is likely to involve an admin charge. Contact your Local Volunteer Centre.
Which types of insurance policy cover volunteers?
All volunteer-involving organisations should have an insurance policy that covers volunteers. 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. Insurance companies should also be aware of the types of work that volunteers are doing because if the tasks are high risk then the insurance policies may have to be changed to accommodate these risks. As well as liability cover organisations may also wish to take out personal accident insurance for their volunteers. This would cover volunteers harmed whilst volunteering, even if there is no negligence on the part of the organisation.
Employer’s Liability Insurance - Covers paid employees in the event of accident, disease or injury caused or made worse as a result of work or of employer’s negligence. This insurance does not automatically cover volunteers. There is no obligation to extend the policy to cover volunteers but it is good practice. The policy must explicitly mention volunteers if they are to be covered by it.
Public Liability Insurance - Should always explicitly mention volunteers. Also known as third party insurance it protects the organisation for claims by members of the public for death, illness, loss, injury, or accident caused by the negligence of the organisation. Public liability insurance generally covers anybody other than employees who come into contact with the organisation. This should include volunteers covering them against loss or injury caused by negligence of the organisation if they are not covered under the employer’s liability insurance. It also protects for loss or damage to property caused through the negligence of someone acting with the authority of the organisation including the actions of volunteers.
When organising public liability cover it should clearly cover loss or injury caused by volunteers. In some cases a volunteer could be sued as an individual for damage cause to a third party so the organisations public liability insurance should indemnify them.
Professional Liability - Professional liability, professional indemnity errors and omissions or malpractice insurance covers the organisation for claims arising for loss or injury caused by services provided negligently or without reasonable care. Such loss might arise, for example, from incorrect care or inaccurate advice. An organisation can be sued for claims arising from incorrect advice or information even if it is give free or via a telephone helpline. Professional liability insurance should also cover defamation, inadvertent breach of copyright, confidentiality and loss of documents.
Do we need a volunteer policy?
Small informal groups, where often everyone is a volunteer, and everything is being done on a face to face level can get by without a volunteer policy. Once groups that use volunteers start to become larger and more formal the importance of a volunteer policy increases. A volunteer policy ensures consistency, and demonstrates a commitment to good practice. It also helps clarify exactly why volunteers are being used within an organisation, and how they will work alongside paid staff. And for volunteers, it makes clear how they can expect to be treated by the organisation. Your Local Volunteer Centre will be able to help with creating policies.
Should we pay our volunteers expenses?
Volunteers are already donating time to their organisations. It would be wrong to expect them to end up out of pocket – effectively donating money – as well.
Payment of expenses is important from an equal opportunities point of view. People on benefits or low incomes should not be excluded because they cannot afford the cost of travel or meals.
Not paying expenses will make it harder to recruit, as the more barriers you place in the way of volunteers the less likely they are to want to volunteer for you.
For more questions answered or any information regarding volunteer policies or volunteer management contact Buxton Volunteer Centre.