You can volunteer as many hours as you like while you are on benefits, as long as you still meet the terms for getting them. It’s generally recognised that volunteering can give you a better chance of finding paid work.
If you are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance you need to be:
- actively looking for work
- willing to stop volunteering if you get a job (you must be free to start a job with one weeks notice)
It is always a good idea to discuss your volunteering with your benefit agency so they are in the picture. Ask your adviser for the ‘Vol work 1’ form, which it is a good idea to complete. You can also suggest they contact us.
Yes you can volunteer, but some organisations’ insurance policies don’t cover you if you’re under 16, so not all opportunities will be available to you. We’re trying to change this by working with local organisations to increase the opportunities available to younger people, get in touch with us to find out more. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is a scheme for younger volunteers, see www.dofe.org
. Or your school or college might have ideas (if they don’t ask them to call us!).
There’s no upper age limit on volunteering. However, some organisations’ insurance policies don’t cover you if you’re over a certain age (usually 80). Contact us to find out about volunteering opportunities that will suit you.
Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are allowed to volunteer and there are no restrictions. You are not allowed to do ‘unpaid work’ but volunteering is different. You are allowed to volunteer in a charity, contact us if you need any further help or information. .
Disabled people should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as non-disabled people and that includes volunteering. We encourage organisations to offer appropriate support and opportunities to people with disabilities, however there are barriers to participation. Contact us to talk through what you’d like to do and we’ll start from there. The council’s Gateway Volunteering Service offers extra support to people with disabilities.
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at evenings and weekends. For example: campaigning, fundraising, staffing helplines, trusteeships, befriending, working on environmental projects or sports activities. You could also talk to your employer about volunteering during working hours, either a short term project or something regular. Contact us to find out about developing employer supported volunteering opportunities.
You can still volunteer in most roles if you have a criminal record. Volunteering can give you an opportunity to encourage people to look beyond your conviction and see you as you are now. Anyone who wants to volunteer with children or vulnerable adults needs a DBS check, this stands for Disclosure and Barring Service which is the new name for a criminal records check. The check will help the organisation to decide whether you are a suitable candidate, they must be fair in their decision and only consider relevant convictions.
You might be asked to have a DBS check if you are interested in a volunteering role that involves close and unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults. DBS stands for the Disclosure and Barring Service, it is a government-run service that checks whether you have a criminal record or are on the DBS Barred List (ie listed as unfit to work or volunteer with children or adults. A DBS check is free for volunteers that require it. You’ll need to fill in a form (supplied by the organisation you want to volunteer with) and provide original documents confirming your identity (eg passport, driving license etc).
Some organisations have set processes (application form, interview, references, trial periods etc) others may not. If you’d like some help to fill out forms or run through any questions you might get asked, get in touch and we can help with that.
It’s good practice for organisations to cover any expenses that you incur as a result of volunteering, such as the cost of travelling to and from the volunteer role. Ideally, meal expenses should also be covered, if you volunteer for more than 4 hours. Unfortunately not all organisations do pay expenses. This can be because they don’t have enough funds or simply because they don’t realise that volunteers should be paid expenses. Before starting your volunteering, ask about whether your expenses will be paid. Very few charities have the funds to pay childcare expenses, but you can ask about these too.