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Volunteers policy and procedure

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What is it?

This policy sets out the principles for volunteering with Wiltshire Council and to provide consistency of treatment for people approaching the council in order to volunteer. It outlines what volunteers can expect from the council as well as how volunteers are expected to behave when volunteering.

This policy is designed to reflect current legislative provisions in respect of volunteers and is non-contractual.

Who does it apply to?

All unpaid volunteers.

When does it apply?

It applies in situations where a member of the public is looking for a volunteering opportunity with Wiltshire Council.

When does it not apply?

It does not apply to permanent or contractual short-term recruitment or employment on a paid basis of Wiltshire Council employees whether employed directly or through an agency.

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What are the main points?  

The principles of the council’s policy towards volunteers is set out in the information booklet PDFFor people thinking about volunteering with Wiltshire Council information booklet For People Thinking About Volunteering with Wiltshire Council 9mb which should be read in conjunction with this policy.

Definition of a volunteer

  • A volunteer is a person who donates their time, skills and experience without receiving any form of compensation from Wiltshire Council.
  • A volunteer is not an employee of Wiltshire Council and there is no legally binding contractual relationship between the council and the volunteer

Why does Wiltshire Council involve volunteers?

  • Volunteers allow the council to expand and improve its services to local communities.
  • Local volunteers have the opportunity of putting their time, skills and experience to good use and to contribute to the community in which they live.
  • Volunteering offers people the opportunity to gain experience and the opportunity to ‘try something new’ as well as meeting like-minded people.

Wiltshire Council’s commitment to volunteers

  • The council’s commitment to volunteers is based in its volunteering promise which confirms the commitment of Wiltshire Council and partners to the principles of:
    • Choice
      Volunteering is undertaken as a matter of free choice. Volunteers are not obliged to undertake tasks they are not comfortable with.
    • Inclusion
      Volunteering is open and accessible to all with fair, simple and consistent processes. Volunteers have influence in how things are organised.
    • Support
      Volunteers are properly introduced to their role and provided with ongoing support and training appropriate to their individual needs, abilities and skills.
    • Safety
      The safety and wellbeing of all volunteers has been considered and adequate insurance is in place. Volunteers are aware of how to raise concerns and how they will be handled.
    • Reimbursement
      All volunteers are appropriately and promptly reimbursed for their travel and other agreed out of pocket expenses incurred whilst carrying out their role.
    • Reward
      Volunteers receive appropriate recognition for their efforts and often hear the words ... thank you.

Procedure

  • In line with the Promise, the council will try to:
    • match the time, skills and experience of volunteers to a suitable volunteering opportunity.
    • ensure each volunteer receives appropriate training and support.
    • resolve any complaints raised by a volunteer in a timely fashion.
    • ensure that each volunteer is supported by a contact from within the council to provide advice and guidance.
    • foster a friendly and supportive atmosphere for volunteers and make volunteering a positive experience.
    • reimburse reasonable expenses incurred. These expenses must be agreed up front with the contact person and are payable against a valid receipt.  

  • In return, the council asks the following of volunteers:
    • To maintain and uphold the good name and reputation of the council.
    • To treat all members, officers, service users and members of the public with respect and dignity.
    • To adhere to the relevant council policies and procedures.

Finding a volunteer placement

  • To find a volunteering opportunity you should contact the volunteer centre Wiltshire via the DEVELOP website which lists all local volunteering opportunities.
  • If you want to undertake a volunteering placement within a specific Wiltshire Council service volunteer centre Wiltshire can help you to do this.
  • The council does not guarantee to provide any volunteering opportunities and may withdraw any volunteering opportunity at any time and for any reason.
  • This policy will also apply to anyone wishing to undertake a work experience placement.

References and other checks

  • Depending on the nature of the volunteering opportunity, a volunteer may be required to provide the names of two referees who have agreed to provide a reference on behalf of the volunteer.
  • Depending on the nature of the volunteering opportunity, the council may need to understand specific health issues in order to assess whether reasonable adjustments can be made.  
  • An enhanced disclosure and barring service (DBS) check will always be required where the volunteering opportunity involves contact with children or vulnerable adults deemed to be regulated activity.  
  • Any necessary references and other checks will need to be completed before the volunteer is able to commence any volunteering activity with the council.

Induction and training

  • The council will provide all volunteers with an introduction to the organisation as well as induction and training tailored to the volunteering opportunity.

Ongoing support

  • The council acknowledges the importance of volunteers and will provide appropriate supervision and support during the course of the volunteering opportunity, through regular meetings, as appropriate to the service the volunteer is involved in.
  • Each volunteer will be allocated a local contact with whom they can liaise from within the council.

Insurance

  • Volunteers are covered by the council’s insurance policy, whilst engaged in volunteering activities. Further information is can be provided upon request. There are some exceptions as to what is covered.  

Health and safety

  • The council is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all volunteers and has a health and safety policy in place.
  • Volunteers will be made aware of this policy during their induction and must be familiar with it before undertaking any volunteering activity.
  • Volunteers must report any accidents, incidents or other dangerous circumstances immediately using the appropriate process.

Complaints

  • Should you wish to make a complaint about your volunteering placement you should put this in writing to your local contact who will investigate the complaint and respond accordingly. There are detailed guidance about how to do this.

Benefits and tax

  • Volunteering does not usually affect any entitlement to social security benefits.
  • Volunteers who are in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) are entitled to undertake voluntary work provided that they meet the conditions for eligibility for JSA, namely being available for work and actively seeking work.
  • You should ensure you understand whether volunteering may affect your entitlement to any social security benefits or may affect your tax situation, including JSA and further advice should be obtained from the DWP, Jobcentre Plus or a Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Other policies

  • There are a number of other policies you should make yourself familiar with when volunteering. Further information will be provided by your local contact person.

The Volunteering relationship

  • In order to achieve the most from your volunteering role volunteers are requested:
  • To attend the induction or ongoing training which it is felt is necessary for you to be able to volunteer in an informed and safe way.
  • To read and understand relevant council or volunteers policies which may apply.
  • To treat any information obtained when undertaking volunteering duties as confidential and not disclose it to any third party.
  • To represent the council positively/appropriately at all times.
  • To tell the supervisor if you wish to finish volunteering, in case alternative arrangements need to be made.
  • To adhere to the health and safety policy and to raise any concerns with the local contact person immediately.
  • To report any accidents or incidents, whether it concerns themselves or another person.
  • To attend meetings with the contact person when you are able to do so.
  • To notify the contact person of any health issues in order that reasonable adjustments may be considered.
  • To review personal insurance policies so that appropriate insurance is in place for you to volunteer.
  • To understand what you must do if you are driving on behalf of the council.
  • To let your contact person know if you are likely to incur out of pocket expenses in order that a relevant claim may be raised to reimburse you in an appropriate timeframe.
  • If you are claiming state benefits, to make sure the relevant agencies are aware you are undertaking volunteering. This should not affect your ability to continue to claim benefits whilst volunteering.

In return the Council will allocate a contact person who will:

  • Agree expectations with you.
  • Arrange a personal induction plan.
  • Make sure all the relevant council policies are followed.
  • Make sure that there are no barriers which would make it difficult for you to undertake the agreed activity. This should be done before you start.
  • Make sure you positively represent the council at all times.
  • Make sure you know what the accident and incident reporting procedure is.
  • Agree to payment of reasonable expenses and make sure these are paid.

Frequently asked questions

I would like to apply for a volunteering position. What is the process?

You should contact the volunteer centre Wiltshire who will help you to find a volunteering placement.

What types of volunteering positions are available?

The council serves the local community in a variety of ways such as through the provision of libraries, by supporting young and old people, through leisure facilities and the provision of work to the unemployed. There are many sectors which will be of interest to a volunteer wishing to gain real and valuable experience supporting the community.

I can only volunteer on an ad-hoc basis. Is this a problem?

When an opportunity arises, the specific nature of the arrangement will be agreed at the time. This may well include ad-hoc arrangements.

Definitions

Volunteer - Someone who gives of their time to support council activities but with whom the council has no contractual relationship and who is not paid for their time.

Legislation

This policy has been reviewed by an internal legal organisation to ensure compliance with our statutory duties.

Equal opportunities

Managers will make any necessary adjustments to ensure that all volunteers are treated equally.  

For further advice

For further information please contact volunteer centre Wiltshire.

Policy Author

HR Policy and Reward Team.

Policy last updated/implemented

June 2013

Last updated: 18 November 2013

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