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Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to receive a reference for my voluntary work?

You should be able to receive an employment reference on the basis of your work.

Can people with a health problem volunteer?
If you have a disability or health problem, you may need to consider practical issues when volunteering with organisations. Do they have accessible premises (including toilet facilities)? Does the voluntary work involve heavy lifting? Can you work flexible hours/days should your health problem be intermittent? Once you have resolved such issues, you should be able to volunteer with confidence.

Does a criminal conviction prevent me from volunteering?
Having a criminal conviction does not automatically rule you out from undertaking voluntary work. It may, however, affect your choice of voluntary work. You should be able and prepared to discuss this in confidence with any organisation you are thinking of volunteering with.

For some voluntary work, notably working with children and vulnerable adults, you will be subject to a police check. This involves checking your criminal record and the results may determine your suitability for the role you wish to take up. The majority of voluntary organisations are aware that checking criminal histories is not enough to protect children and young people, so they will insist on you providing the names and addresses of people who can provide you with references. These referees should not be friends or relatives, but employers, college tutors etc. Organisations often follow up written references with a phone call for extra security.

Will my voluntary work be covered by insurance?
All of our registered volunteers are covered by personal accident and public liability insurance. This means that should you injure yourself or someone else during the course of your voluntary work, and compensation becomes an issue, we have an insurance policy to claim against. If you are volunteering with a different voluntary organisation, you may well be also covered by their insurance policies. Some organisations provide additional cover, such as Professional Indemnity Insurance, which is particularly useful when volunteers are in Advisory roles. If you are involved in any kind of accident during your voluntary work, you must report it to the Volunteer Co-ordinator.

Will Volunteering affect my state benefits?
If you are claiming Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, you should inform your Benefits Office of the voluntary work you do and how you can be reached if they need you. If you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance, there are no limitations on the number of hours you may volunteer, provided you remain available for paid employment and are actively seeking it. If you are claiming Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance, there are no restrictions on the number of hours you can volunteer.

Before you start volunteering, you should contact the Benefits Agency and inform them of;

The name/address of the organisation you will be volunteering for;
The nature of the voluntary work (brief description of the tasks involved);
When you will be starting and a rough idea of how many hours you will be giving.

Will my expenses be reimbursed?
Travelling to and from your voluntary work can be expensive and you should never be out of pocket because of a voluntary job. The Volunteer Bureau always pays travelling expenses to volunteers working on it’s own projects and we are also able to reimburse expenditure on lunch if you are working over the lunch period.

Other agencies may have different policies as regards expenses payments. Good practise, however, is to ensure that at the very least, travel expenses can be claimed by the volunteer. You should always keep the receipts for bus/train fares, or make a careful note of the mileage covered, to enable organisations to reimburse you. Some organisations may even be able to reimburse you the cost of child (or other dependent) care, if you have to pay this to allow you to do voluntary work.

Am I liable for tax on my expenses?
Volunteers who only receive reimbursement for out of pocket expenses should not pay tax on them. However, if you receive a flat-rate payment which is more money than you actually spent you may be liable to pay tax.

Is it alright to accept gifts from those I help?
Sometimes, those people who have received the support of a volunteer wish to reward them for that help. Gifts of money or other items of value may be offered, but should not be accepted. Always suggest that gifts are donated to the organisation, and make sure that you inform your supervisor. Accepting gifts or money puts an unfair expectation on the person you are helping and may make you liable for paying tax.

If I consider someone is at risk should I divulge confidential information?
If you are told information that makes you believe that someone you work with may be at risk, you should talk to your supervisor. If you feel unable to do so, please contact the volunteer co-ordinator at the Bureau, who will offer the support you feel you need. Otherwise it is vital that you are discreet and that people feel they can trust you, so please respect confidences ordianarily. Any information given to you whilst volunteering should not be passed to others or discussed outside the work setting.

 You can make a donation to the charity through Paypal.

Registered Co. 2918492
Charity N
o. 1067193

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Last Modified: 2 Apr 2012