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Volunteering FAQs

Always wondered what volunteering could mean for you?

Are you interested in finding out about where you can find volunteering opportunities?

Have you been worried about what steps you need to take before volunteering?


In our Q&A section below, we try to answer your queries and concerns about everything to do with volunteering, so that you feel comfortable and excited to take the next step in the journey, whether that is looking for volunteering opportunities, or trying for search for new volunteers. 


Who can volunteer?

Everyone, but there are some restrictions to young people volunteering, but this would be down to the individual organisation. Younger people can sometimes volunteer as a family.

Who needs volunteers?

Charities and not for profit organisations / community groups. Also schools and similar establishments.

Who benefits from volunteering?

The person themselves and the organisation they are volunteering for.

Who can I speak to if I want to volunteer?

The Volunteer Coordinator at the organisation, or your local Volunteer Centre – look at our database.

Who is VASWS?

We are an umbrella organisation who helps people to find volunteering roles on behalf of charities and organisations who need volunteers. We are a charity and council for voluntary services and the work it does is on behalf of local authorities.

Who can I speak to if my organisation wants to offer volunteering?

Our Volunteer Centre.

Who will be my boss/manager?

The Volunteer Coordinator for who you are volunteering for.

Who do I report concerns to?

This would also be the Volunteer Coordinator for who you are volunteering for.

What steps do I need to take before volunteering?

Think about a role that I may enjoy doing, the time I have to offer and where I would like to do it.

What volunteering is available?

The opportunities are endless and variable within all parts of the local community.

What experience or qualifications do I need?

No specific experience, or qualifications, just passion and enthusiasm.

What training is provided and what support can I get?

A full induction should be provided with ongoing support from the Volunteer Coordinator.

What time commitments would be expected and how long would I work?

The volunteering role should fit around your availability.

What about flexible volunteering?

Many organisations give you the opportunity to volunteer in a flexible manner, although some roles may be more specific time wise.

What if I already have a full-time job?

Some roles can be done from home in your spare time. Look for a flexible role that is available on a 7-day basis.

What would my responsibilities be?

This would be discussed with you prior to you accepting the role and would differ from task to task.

What will I gain from volunteering? What will is add to my CV?

Lots of experience that can be added to your CV. It will also help you to work as part of a team and boost your confidence.

What if I have a disability, or something potentially preventing me from volunteering opportunities?

It is always best to be open about any restrictions you would face with the role and chat this through with the Volunteer Coordinator. 

There may be other options that you could consider, and organisations will be as flexible as possible to be able to accommodate you.

What allowances are made for disabilities?

This would be down to the organisation that you are looking to volunteer at. They will make you aware of their policies and procedures around disability.

What can I do if I have a criminal record?

Depending on the role this may not affect you volunteering. This would be at the discretion of the organisation concerned.

What if English is my second language?

This should not be a barrier depending on your communication skills. Speak to the organisation concerned, or our Volunteer Coordinators.

What can we do to recruit more volunteers?

Get in touch with our VASWS Volunteer Coordinators for chat.

What can I do if our organisation hasn't had volunteers before but we need them now?

Get in touch with our VASWS Volunteer Coordinators for a chat and also to register your roles on our volunteering database.



Where can I volunteer?

See our website for updated opportunities as they come along.

Where do I have to go to volunteer?

Some roles can be done from home and some will be at the offices of the organisation you chose to volunteer at.

Where can I find volunteers?

Speak to our Volunteer Coordinators for advice / word of mouth / look in your local community.

Where can I advertise for volunteers?

Through our database, noticeboards, local Facebook pages, local websites, council websites, village noticeboards.

Where will training take place?

Online / face to face.

Where do I find other important information around applying and key contacts?

Via our Website or of the website of the organisation that you are interested in applying.

When are most volunteers needed?

Now! Currently there is a national shortage of volunteers and this is having an impact on client waiting times.

When do opportunities become available?

Some volunteer roles are seasonal, for example Christmas volunteering. Other roles run on a rolling basis. If you have a particular skill, then chat to the organisation an they may be able to tailor a role to your skills.

When do opportunities get updated?

As and when necessary / when they are reviewed.

When can I expect to be contacted?

You should be contacted within 2 weeks of applying, but if you have applied through our website and haven’t heard, please let us know and we will chase for you.

When can I expect to start?

You can start after the recruitment process has taken place. This could include an interview / informal chat, DBS check, references.

When might I need a DBS check?

A DBS check will only be carried out if it is necessary for the role that you are carrying out,

e.g volunteering on a 1:1 basis with vulnerable people.

When will it become a paid role?

There is a possibility that the volunteering role will lead onto paid employment, but this is not guaranteed. It will help with experience to add to your CV though, which will help when applying for jobs.

When I volunteer, will I get a reference, certificate or timesheet?

This would be down to the individual organisation.

When can I claim expenses? Who do I claim expenses from?

Good practice is to pay reasonable travel expenses, but not all organisation are in a position to be able to offer that.

When can I take holiday?

You work the weeks that you are able to, but it is good practice to give notice of holidays in advance.



Why is volunteering important and valuable?

It’s often said if people in the UK stopped volunteering, the country would grind to a halt within days!

Why would volunteering be a good thing?

Charities and organisations who need volunteers would not survive without them.

Why would I like to volunteer?

For your own personal reasons and for who you are volunteering for.

Why would they want me?

Because you have something to offer to help them operate!

Why are organisations struggling to find volunteers?

There are always never enough volunteers to fill all the roles available. Although thousands of people did their bit helping others (ie volunteering), during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, it appears to have been a watershed moment, in that afterwards many people took stock of things in their lives, and many people who had been keen volunteers decided it was time to step back from that, and perhaps take a break, or find other activities, other volunteer position, or retire completely.

Why do organisations need volunteers, and why volunteers rather than paid staff?

They may not have the finances to pay all people who work for them, and besides they are offering opportunities people may like and who do not expect to be paid for the work they do.

Why contact VASWS instead of an organisation directly?

VASWS gives comprehensive advice on all aspects of volunteering.

Why aren't you promoting my volunteering opportunity?

We can if you contact us.

Why do I need to provide references if it's an unpaid role?

Organisations and charities will need references to help them make the right decisions about accepting you as a volunteer.

Why do I have to volunteer? - why can't I be paid?

Some volunteer roles can lead to paid work for that charity or organisation, or another, perhaps at a later date.

Why do I have to turn up on time or make a commitment?

You will be expected to be punctual for the volunteering you have agreed to undertake, but of course can cancel if you are sick or unwell, or have other commitments.

Why do I need a DBS check?

If your volunteer role includes working alone (ie one-to-one) with children and young people and / or vulnerable adults.

Why do some volunteers need training?

If the tasks you will be undertaking are new to you, you may need training and help, to do them proficiently.

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