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FAQ's

Who can volunteer?

Anyone. Whilst having skills or experience is useful, the important point is to have interest and enthusiasm for becoming involved in your community. UCSU's Volunteering Team has lots of experience matching students interests with suitable volunteer roles.


Can I choose what I want to do?

When you meet with the UCSU Volunteering Team they will give you an outline of the work of the various organisations and suggest which ones might suit you. They will usually put you in contact with the organisation where you can talk to their staff about volunteer roles and how you might be able to contribute before you commit yourself.


Will I need to go for an interview?

Most organisations will want to meet a volunteer before asking them to start work but this will usually be for an informal chat rather than a formal interview. Some might ask for references from you but this will be explained before you start. If you are volunteering as part of a group, it is more likely that the organisation will arrange matters with the group leader only.


What will I gain from being a volunteer?

Firstly, a sense of achievement, seeing something happen in the community because of you. There are hundreds of organisations across the community that depend on volunteers to make their activity possible. Secondly, it is an agreeable way to meet people and make new friends. Thirdly, you can use the skills you already possess or learn new ones. For many students it’s also a great way to do something that coincides with your studies but can also be a way to do something totally different to your normal day to day routine.


Who will I be working with?

You might be working alongside the employees of the organisation or with other volunteers. In either case you should be supported by more experienced colleagues, who can give you training or help as necessary.


How much time is required?

This will vary with the role you take on but organisations are aware that due to your academic timetable they will need to be flexible. Any time you spend volunteering will be greatly appreciated.


Do I have to make a long-term commitment?

No. Whilst some volunteers stay with an organisation for many years, it is always recognised that your interests might change and you might want to move on from an organisation. Similarly, if your home or work circumstances change, you might have to stop volunteering. Organisations will welcome your contribution even if it is only for a short time.


What about short-term volunteering?

Yes, absolutely. UCSU run one day volunteering projects and many organisations arrange projects and volunteer days to complete certain tasks. You can join these without committing to long-term volunteering. Also, there are many functions, festivals, shows and events in the community that need volunteers for just a few days or weeks.


Will volunteering help me get a job?

Not directly. Volunteering means giving your time free for the good of the community. However, many companies recognise the value of work experience and skills gained in a volunteer role and you should mention such activity on your C.V. when applying for jobs. In some areas of work, a record of volunteering is often a very useful step towards paid employment. Conservation work, arts, entertainment and outdoor pursuits are good examples.


Will I be paid expenses for my volunteering?

If you are giving your time and expertise free you should not have to make a financial commitment. We encourage organisations to cover their volunteers’ out of pocket expenses such as travel. The organisation should also provide tools, protective clothing and the like if needed.


I don’t want an active task can I still help?

Definitely. For every active volunteer task there is a backroom role in planning, organising and administering the organisation’s activities. Most groups need trustees and committee members. There are many volunteer tasks you can carry out from home.


Do I need to have police or criminal records checks?

If volunteers are going to work with children or vulnerable adults the organisation might ask you to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application. The information you give will be treated as confidential. Even if you have a criminal record it might not necessarily prevent you being a volunteer. Volunteering is about including not excluding people.

 

Many volunteering positions do not need a DBS check.