Welcome to Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency

Your Rights As A Volunteer

We want you to enjoy your volunteering experience; these are some of your rights as a volunteer:

Expenses - you should not be out of pocket when volunteering. We would expect the organisation you volunteer for to pay your travel expenses (bus fare or car mileage allowance) to and from your place of volunteering. If you volunteer for a full working day we would expect you to be provided with lunch. Please keep all receipts for any out of pocket expenses as you will need them to claim your money back from the organisation.

Induction Training - when starting to volunteer, the organisation you volunteer for will carry out induction training. This lets you know what the organisation is there to do, how it does it, the systems they have in place, such as how to claim your out of pocket expenses, and what to do if there is an accident etc. You should also be told what part your voluntary role plays in delivering a service for the organisation, and receive details of training available to your to help develop the skills you need to carry out the role effectively. This is a good time to ask any questions you may have.

Role Description - you should be given a clear description in writing about what you are expected to do when carrying out your voluntary role.

Working Environment - you should be able to carry out your duties in safe, secure and healthy environments that are free from harassment, intimidation, bullying, violence and discrimination.

Supervision/Support - to help you enjoy your voluntary role, support should be available from the organisation. As in paid work, you should have a named person you can go to if you have any problems with your voluntary role. If you have a problem you do not want to talk about with the organisation, please contact a member of The Volunteer Centre and we will do our best to help.

Health & Safety - you should not work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Ask to see the Health & Safety Policy if it is not shown to you during induction training.

Insurance - the organisation you volunteer for should have insurance cover for volunteers. Ask to see the policy for details on how you are covered in the event of an accident within the voluntary organisation.

References - the organisation you volunteer for may be able to give you a professional reference based on your voluntary work.

Your Questions Answered

How many days/hours do I have to volunteer?
Volunteering is very flexible and can be based around your personal commitments and the time you want to give as a volunteer. The volunteering hours/days you are available will be matched with the opportunity available and the time commitment for that opportunity. You do not have to volunteer - volunteering is time freely offered by you.

What if I don't like the voluntary work?
We want you to have a positive and rewarding experience as a volunteer. If you find, for whatever reason, that you are not enjoying your voluntary work, if possible try to discuss any problems you may have with the named person at the organisation where you are volunteering. If this is not possible, please contact The Volunteer Centre who will discuss other volunteering opportunities available to you.

Will volunteering affect my benefit?
Volunteering should not affect your benefits if you are registered unemployed, available for work and actively seeking employment. If you are receiving any other type of benefit, JobcentrePlus will assess each application on an individual basis. Your benefits may be at risk if you do not contact your local JobcentrePlus.

Can I volunteer for more than one voluntary organisation at the same time?
Subject to the host organisations policies, you can volunteer for any number of organisations at the same time, providing you have the time to give.

Do I need a qualification?
No. Organisations usually offer training to enable you to do the work.

What are out of pocket expenses?
Out of pocket expenses are anything you spend money on, in order to carry out your voluntary role. They are usually fares to and from your place of volunteering and food and drink if volunteering all day. They can also include using your own telephone, mobile or printer. You give your time to the organisation, this is valuable - you should not be short of finances for providing a service. Keep you receipts to claim money back from the organisation.

What is a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check?
Depending on your volunteering role, the volunteer involving organisation may be required by law to arrange a basic, or enhanced, DBS check when people are working with children and/or vulnerable people.  These were formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

Why do some organisations want references before I start volunteering? Where do I get them?
In general, the reason why volunteer involving organisations ask for a reference is to make sure you are who you say you are. Many organisations will accept references from friends.

What will references from volunteering be based on and how can I get them?
The organisation you volunteer for will usually provide a reference based on timekeeping and how well you carried out your voluntary role, similar to those provided for paid workers. How they are provided depends on the organisation, the first step is to ask your named person or supervisor. Give the organisation enough notice when asking for a reference, especially if you need it for an interview.

Why do I need to fill in evaluation forms?
We are grateful for the time you take to fill in the forms. It provides evidence to our funders, which may help us gain future funding to continue the service. It is also your chance to let us know what you think about the way we carry out the service and how you think we can improve on it.

What do you do with my personal information?
We will create a file and put your name and contact details on our database; however, what we talk about remains confidential. With your permission we will share the information with other organisations to secure you a voluntary position and associated training or paid work. Under exceptional circumstances we may be required by law to break confidence - your Volunteer Centre contact will inform you if these circumstances apply during your first meeting.

Additional information