Starting out in volunteering can feel daunting, so we have answered some of the questions that might be on your mind.
But if you’re still wondering about anything, just get in touch, we’ll be happy to help!
1. How will I know the best role for me?
2. What happens once I have found something I am interested in?
3. How long will it take before I can get started?
4. How much of my time will volunteering take up?
5. What skills do I need?
6. Are there any rules that I should know about before I volunteer?
7. How much does it cost?
8. Will volunteering affect my benefits?
Think about how much time you have available and what you really care about.
Perhaps, you love animals or maybe gardening’s your thing. Maybe you’ve got life experiences that you could bring to a role. Spend some time searching the www.volunteersuffolk.org.uk for ideas – you can always ask the organisations questions if you want to find out more – there’s no obligation, they’ll send you some more information about them and about their volunteering opportunities.
Get in touch with us, we can help you. We’ll ask you questions like: what are your hobbies or interests; in a perfect world what would your job be; is their something you would like to learn about. Even if the perfect volunteering role is not out there for you – there maybe stepping stones you can take before you get there.
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If you have found something you like on www.volunteersuffolk.org.uk, register as a volunteer on the website. The organisation or charity will then get in touch – they may send you an application pack or they might even ask you to come and meet them. Each organisation will have a recruitment process to go through before you start volunteering.
If you have contacted the organisation directly via the phone, email or their website, they will then talk you through their rercuitment process.
Before you complete the application form, or go for a meeting with them try and find out as much information about the organisation and about the voluntary role as possible. You don’t want to start volunteering and later find you don’t like doing it. You’ll have the role description already, but you can also search the internet for the organisation’s website, maybe contact them and ask them for their annual report. Make sure you know about the charity, its aims and activities, and make sure you have a clear idea of the work you will be involved in before you start.
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Organisations have different ways of recruiting their volunteers. Most will probably not interview you formally but they will want to have an informal chat following their own recruitment procedures. However, if the role has some responsibility, e.g. for money or accounting, or if you will be working with vulnerable people or certain kinds of equipment, the interview may be more formal (for some roles you may need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check). In either case this gives you, and the organisation, a chance to assess each other and an opportunity to ask questions.
The sort of questions the organisation will probably want to ask you will vary from organisation to organisation and depend on the type of voluntary work you’re interested in. However, a typical interviewer (formal or informal) may ask any of the following:
You can ask them anything that you feel unsure about. You may want to ask about the following:
No matter what your availability is, we can generally find something to fit with your schedule – from a couple of hours up to four or five days a week. We’ve got roles available weekdays and weekends, day time and evenings. So if you’re looking for something to do between dropping off and collecting your children from school, or you work during the week, or the only day you have to yourself is a Sunday it shouldn’t be a problem.
As a volunteer you will not be paid for your time, the law is very strict about this and payment includes gifts. However out of pocket expenses, i.e. travel, lunch and equipment costs are usually repaid. These payments can usually only be made if a receipt is produced. And lunch expenses can only be claimed if you are working both a morning and afternoon session. The organisation will advise you when and how payments will be made.
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People can volunteer whilst on benefits. Community Action Suffolk will be able to give you confidential advice on this. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) booklet ‘Volunteering while getting benefits’ is also useful guide.
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If you have any questions, or would like to know more, contact the CAS Volunteering Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01473 345400.
Community Action Suffolk’s mission is to strengthen and champion community action in Suffolk by supporting the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in its work.
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Address: Brightspace, Ipswich, IP20HH
Phone: 01473 345400
Fax: 01473 345330