City : Volunteering Alley : Why Volunteer
What is Volunteering?
- Volunteers give their time to support or help another person, organisation or community. The relationship is based on mutual trust, respect and is unpaid. However expenses can be paid for travel or lunches.
- Volunteers can work with children and families, older people, in charity shops or in coffee shops, fund raising, with animals, or in the local parks or gardens.
- Volunteering promotes learning, contributes to reducing crime, and improves the health and well-being of the individual who chooses to volunteer.
- Volunteering enables communities to be strengthened and involves a number of communities, groups and organisations.
- Volunteering contributes to creating a socially inclusive society – anyone has the potential to volunteer – you just have to be willing to give up some of your time.
Benefits of Volunteering
For the individual volunteer
- Receive free training and gain new qualifications
- Meet diverse communities
- Make new friends and become a part of a group of volunteers
- Volunteers feel they have a purpose in their lives and in society
- Give something back to the community and be more active
- Help other people during difficult times and make a difference in other people’s lives
- Volunteers increase their confidence
- Gain certificates and awards in recognition for your volunteering
- Improve their chances to find paid employment
- Improve their CV or UCAS application statement by sharing their experiences of volunteering
- Some volunteering roles can lead to International travel to Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe
- Your travel expenses will be paid for and some charities also pay for your lunch if you volunteer for four hours or more
- Improve your English language skills
For the organisation
- Charities and Public Sector Organisations have limited funds but a great demand for their services - volunteers can help to deliver those services to benefit local people who have multiple and varied needs
- The range and quality of services can be greatly enhanced with the support of volunteers
Why Should I Volunteer?
- Develop skills
- Do something really rewarding
- Give back to your community and help other people
- Get some great experience for your CV
- Makes you more employable
- It can increase your confidence in the working environment
- A chance to meet new people and make new friends
- Gain recognition (vInspired offers Awards for people who volunteer for a certain number of hours)
- The chance to contribute to a project or a cause that really matters to you
Can I volunteer while on Job Seekers Allowance?
As long as you are paid no more than your expenses and you still fulfill the criteria for claiming benefits then you can still claim unemployment benefit while you are volunteering.
If you are given a subsistence allowance (this equates to more than just expenses) or you are doing a job that someone would normally be paid for then you cannot claim benefits.
If you are on JSA and volunteering you can volunteer with any kind of organisation as long as you are not working for a family member and you aren’t being paid (apart from reasonable expenses)
You can volunteer for as many hours as you like as long as you can show that you are actively seeking and available for work.
There is an online information pack http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dwp1023.pdf but it you are in doubt then you should always check with your Job Centre advisor.
Your Job Centre Plus adviser can help direct you to some volunteering opportunities on the Work Together programme.
Can I set up my own project?
Yes there is excellent advice and guidance on how to start up your own project and the role of O2 Think Big on the fourth floor.
What do I need to be able to volunteer?
Firstly you will need some free time (this could be anything from one hour a week to months free depending on the project hat you want to participate in).
Some positions may require you to carry out a DBS check (police criminal record check). Having a criminal record does not mean that you can’t volunteer, it just means it will be taken into consideration when you are applying. Only positions working with children or vulnerable adults will ask for this. if you are concerned about this at all you can come in to Volunteer Centre Slough to speak to a volunteering adviser 10am - 4pm Monday to Thursday.
Depending on the project you may need some basic training which is likely to be provided by the organisation running the volunteer project.
You will need some enthusiasm for the volunteer project you are applying for!