Getting into Voluntary Work
Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house, meet new people, make friends, learn and develop skills, have fun, gain work experience, build confidence, feel valued and get a job reference. Volunteering can lead to a new career or a whole new way of life.
Volunteers play a large and vital role in many organisations such as schools, charities, youth clubs and community groups. What you do is up to you. You may want a hands-on role, working directly with the organisation’s users, or prefer to be part of the management committee helping to direct the organisation. Volunteering should not cost you anything, as all expenses will normally be paid for you, but check this first. You will usually need to provide receipts to claim expenses.
Things to think about:
- Before making contact with an organisation, think about what you want to know from them, and what they are likely to ask you.
- How much time can you give? At what time of day?
- What do you want to get from volunteering, e.g. meeting people or gaining new skills?
- What skills or experience can you offer?
- Will you get out-of-pocket expenses paid?
- Does the organisation insure its volunteers?
- Are you receiving any form of state benefit? You will need to check that your volunteering won't risk this.
- Is childcare available (if needed)?
How to volunteer
Unless you are already sure what you want to do, it is worth finding out what kind of opportunities there are near where you live. Some organisations are looking for people with specific skills. Others will find volunteer work for everyone, including people with extra support needs. Remember, if you need childcare so that you can volunteer, ask.
Useful organisations and resources:
- Volunteer Bureaux act as a volunteers' ‘job shops’ and can put you in touch with local organisations that have vacancies. You can also discuss with them what you want to do and get advice. You can do this and find a local volunteer bureau by visiting the Volunteering England website.
- Councils for Voluntary Service often act as a volunteer bureau if there is no local bureau. They are sometimes known by a different name, such as a 'Community Action' organisation, so look in the phone book or on Yell.com under ‘Council’, ‘Volunteers’ or ‘Voluntary’. In rural areas the equivalents are Rural Community Councils.
- Public libraries - Ask if there is a notice board or a file of information on voluntary work. There are several published directories of voluntary work, and most libraries will have at least one of these in the reference or careers section.
- Do it - You can search here for local volunteering opportunities. THis site also has lots of information about volunteering.
- Timebank - If you register with TimeBank, your interests and skills will be matched to volunteering opportunities in your area and they will send their volunteer guide and newsletter. To register call 0845 601 4008 (general enquiries number is 0207 401 5438) or register online.
To find organisations who offer local volunteering opportunities you can also visit our Local Support section.