SCVO provides a range of support to local voluntary groups and community organisations wishing to involve residents through voluntary activity. This support aims to help local organisations improve their ability to attract and recruit new volunteers, and to ensure that volunteers have a safe, productive and beneficial experience.
SCVO’s support offer includes…
- Assisting organisations to become ‘volunteer-ready’ with regards to having appropriate policies and practical arrangements in place;
- Helping organisations to improve their local profile and their invitation to residents to ‘come and get involved’ through the use of electronic media and marketing as well as more traditional methods;
- Promoting opportunities for volunteer-involving organisations and community groups to come together, network, share good practice and learn from one another;
- The ability to post volunteer vacancies on SCVO’s online portal so that opportunities for residents to get involved can be advertised across Sandwell;
- Being on hand to advise resident-involving organisations on issues relating to managing day-to-day work with volunteers and good practice.
SCVO also works with local community organisations, businesses and strategic partners across Sandwell to champion the value of volunteering, and to promote new opportunities for participation through campaigns, projects and partnership initiatives.
For more information on SCVO’s support offer around volunteering, please contact Stuart Ashmore or Kim Fuller:
- T: 0121 525 1127
- E: email@example.com
WHAT IS A VOLUNTEER?
By definition, a volunteer is ‘a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task’. They choose to give their time and they give it willingly, with no financial gain as reward.
Here in Sandwell we have thousands of people helping out, formally and informally, every single day of the week.
Some are skill sharers – mapping out a new web site for a charity; taking time out to be a trustee or book keeper; running singalong sessions in a residential setting; as a youth group leader or sports coach. Some are carers – shopping for friends, neighbours and clients; boosting their day with a friendly phone call; advocating on their behalf. And some are skill seekers – helping out with any task feasible to gain experience, friendship and the confidence to build the life and future they want.
Volunteering has many, many different faces and can crop up in the most unexpected places!
As a voluntary sector we have a duty to ensure all our Sandwell helpers are treated well, and whilst in our care are appreciated and respected for all they provide free of charge. Likewise, we have a duty to ensure they follow best practice too, and don’t bring an organisation’s good name into question.
You can attract new helpers and promote your volunteer opportunities FREE on our public-facing web site www.letsgosandwell.info
This site is self-managing, so you can get a log-in and add, delete or change your volunteering offers any time you like.
But before you do that, why not have a look at the resources below and check the QUICK QUESTIONS to get started. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Quick Questions
- Recruiting Helpers
- Role Descriptions
- Equal Opportunities
- The Business of Giving
At SCVO we offer support and guidance to help organisations be ‘volunteer-ready’. We can work with you to attract, recruit and retain new helpers for example, and ensure that volunteers have a safe, productive and beneficial experience.
As a sector we know the value of helping out, so we also work to encourage Sandwell residents to boost their confidence, their job prospects and their whole outlook by getting involved.
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QUICK QUESTIONS TO GET YOUR ORGANISATION VOLUNTEER-READY
Before you recruit volunteers, ask yourself these basic questions and check out the ‘Tips’ section afterwards:
- Have you involved staff and other stakeholders in the discussion? Be open about any concerns that volunteers will be used to replace employees (if you have paid staff). Align a volunteer strategy with mission and objectives of your organisation: background information about the organisation and the role of volunteers; relevant policies and procedures; insurance cover; monitoring and evaluation; information about the support and supervision arrangements that the volunteer will receive, including training and induction processes
- Have you identified specific roles for your volunteers? Have you drafted a list of expectations for each role? Volunteers are under no obligation whatsoever to carry out any duties, but it’s fair and reasonable for volunteers to identify an expected list of tasks that they’ll undertake.
- Have you considered practicalities? Look at the space you have and the equipment you’ve got so that you don’t force people into an unacceptable working space. Have you got the right insurance to host volunteers (all companies are different so check) and are all policies in place such as Health and Safety, Safeguarding, etc?
- Have you considered cost and time? Volunteer expenses and training, publicity for recruiting, DBS (background checks), staff support time – are they proportionate to the role of the volunteer?
- Is the role sustainable? Be clear and open about the project, the limitations of funding (if it’s a funded project) and the length of time roles may last. Manage expectations of potential volunteers, and develop relationships with similar organisations so you can signpost volunteers if you no longer need them.
We can support you with conversations about all of this and help you get the ball rolling. And if you’ve been doing it successfully already you can join our conversations and share good practice, for the benefit of the whole borough.
For more information, support and to join the conversation contact our Growing Participation and Volunteering Mentor Kim Fuller – email@example.com
- One of the most important things to remember when you’re putting messages out to the public is to use clear, simple language.
- Tell people what your organisation does; how it makes a difference; what type of people would really help your cause.
- Don’t be afraid to tell potential volunteers what they would gain – like specialist skills, social life, enhanced CV if they’re looking for work, etc..
- There are lots of ways to advertise for volunteers, and it’s often best to start local. Ask people you know if they know anyone for example. Check out people who live nearby. Then of course there are the usual methods like social media, leaflets and posters, visiting events. Perhaps even think about whether there are people who are involved in your activities or who access your services who may enjoy volunteering with you? SCVO hosts the web site www.letsgosandwell.info where you can post any volunteer opportunity.
- It’s perfectly reasonable to interview potential volunteers. Keep it informal and give them time to talk about why they want to volunteer, but be clear about the organisation’s aims and policies.
- Keeping a note of the interview is good practice. It’s also advisable to ask the potential volunteer for a couple of referees, so you can get an idea of their background and suitability.
- Some roles will need further official checks, such as DBS disclosure which checks if a person has a criminal background. You can get more information here: www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service
Hopefully you will go on to recruit the volunteer following interviews and checks, but if you don’t think they’re suitable you’re under no obligation. Obviously it’s courteous to explain why, and possibly direct them to something more suitable.
You have to strike the right balance when creating a role description for people helping out. It’s important not to fall into the trap of creating an employment contract – remember volunteers are under no obligation whatsoever.
At the same time, there are of course expectations of any role, and people helping out will need guidance and support.
There have been legal cases where volunteers have claimed they were treated as employees, and they have won for unfair dismissal.
To avoid that trap, here are a few tips for creating a written role description:
- DON’T include any kind of payment offer. Volunteers can claim reasonable, previously-agreed and actual expenses such as for travelling, but not any kind of fixed income at all.
- DON’T make training a lever for any kind of obligation – for example ‘if we train you then you must help us out for a minimum of six months’
- DON’T demand time commitments. You can explain that if the volunteer stayed for a two-hour period every day for example, then it would really be an advantage for everyone. But committing to time in a role description is hinting at obligation.
- DON’T make the role description look like a contract, and don’t use contractual language. Avoid using language that is used for employment like ‘job’ and ‘requirements’. Instead use words like ‘agreement’, ‘hopes’ and ‘expectations’. State that it’s not a legal contract, and there is no obligation either way for the arrangement to continue at any time. Not being a contract works both ways, so as an organisation you can ask a volunteer to leave at any time.
- DO write down the role title and what the role involves (expectations)
- DO name the person the volunteer reports to
- DO explain how the role fits into the organisation as a whole, especially with reference to paid employees
- DO detail any specific requirements – like skills needed or dress code for example.
- DO explain that all volunteers have to adhere to organisation policies such as Equal Opportunities, Health and Safety, Data Protection/Confidentiality and Safeguarding.
You could be forgiven for thinking that ‘safeguarding’ is just about protecting children and adults who are obviously vulnerable.
The fact is, every single person involved within an organisation needs to be ‘safeguarded’, and likewise it is every single person’s responsibility to be a ‘safe guard’.
Volunteers are often in a unique position in an organisation – some may have a much closer relationship with the client group for example, and get to hear things ‘on the ground’ that paid staff don’t. Some volunteers may be in a position where they could in fact be the subject of a safeguarding concern.
It’s crucial that volunteers are made aware of the organisation’s Safeguarding policies just the same as any other staff, and have access to courses bringing them up to date with current policies and how to spot potential causes for concern. Involve them in conversations about safeguarding and listen to their opinion when putting new policies in place.
If you need further information about Safeguarding check out the Government advice for the voluntary sector. The portal, at www.safeguarding.culture.gov.uk, offers a step by step guide to help charities correctly manage their concerns, identify the right people to contact if needed and access helpful resources and advice.
- Include volunteers in your Equal Opportunities Policy
- Discuss equality with volunteers. Make sure they understand what it means and are prepared to abide by policies.
- All volunteers should have a named ‘line manager’, who monitors and evaluates their behaviour as they go about their tasks. Make sure the manager is keeping an eye out for equality issues and is prepared to take action if issues arise. Similarly, that manager is there to answer questions and listen to any concerns.
- Make sure service users and volunteers have clear ways to raise complaints or concerns, so that issues can be dealt with quickly.
Volunteers need to be covered by insurance within the organisation. Talk to your insurance provider about your volunteers – they are probably covered anyway but all companies are different so you’ll need to make sure.
Drivers using their own vehicles in their voluntary activities should tell their insurers. They should make it clear that it’s not commercial use of the vehicle, and they will only receive direct expenses for miles travelled.
There shouldn’t be higher premiums for this, as volunteering should be regarded as part of the ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ use. Even if they have to declare it as business use there shouldn’t be a higher premium, but they do have to declare it.
Volunteers are perfectly entitled to get their money back for actual expenses such as mileage and bus fare, but you do have to be careful it is actual and not a rounded-up figure just to make it easier. Some people fall into the trap of, say, giving a volunteer a tenner every time they help out, rather than the actual cost of their journey. This can be seen as payment, which in turn gives the volunteer grounds for employment claims.
You can find out about mileage and limits on expenses here: www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-need-to-pay-tax-on-mileage-payments-as-a-volunteer-driver
Both the group or organisation and the individual volunteers should keep clear records of journeys taken if expenses are being paid, including date, time, purpose of journey and how many miles.
THE BUSINESS OF GIVING
It goes without saying that the pandemic has knocked many companies for six. And yet it has also brought out the best in business, as many have also seen it as a time for giving.
From the massive multi-nationals to the corner shop, business people have dug deep during the pandemic to support the community. Some have simply donated, to the tune of millions of pounds, but others have given in different ways – releasing staff for volunteering for example, or collecting goods for their local food bank.
Check out local volunteering TEAM CHALLENGES for team building, community action or just having fun – www.letsgosandwell.info
As we ‘reset and recover’, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will play a huge part in keeping the UK on track. Companies are being reminded that their customers, employees and in turn their profits benefit from supporting the community, whatever form that giving takes.
Here in Sandwell we have an amazing voluntary and charity sector, but just like any other it has suffered over the last few months. So now might be the time to think about your business and how it can connect more with the local community.
SCVO supports and represents voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Sandwell, and welcomes conversations with local businesses of any size and shape about opportunities for involvement.
SCVO’s Chief Executive Mark Davis said: “We know from experience those businesses that get involved with the voluntary sector boost their brand and their image, make employees happy and form lasting relationships with local communities which in turn promotes customer loyalty.”
To start the conversation about helping out in Sandwell email firstname.lastname@example.org