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Key Principles in involving volunteers

Guidelines for organisations

  • Volunteers should be recruited to enhance a service not to replace paid staff.  
  • Before recruiting, be clear why a volunteer is wanted or needed
  • Organisations should provide clear written task outlines for their volunteers which are skills based – meaningful tasks with opportunities for personal development
  • Provide the volunteer with an induction and preparation/training programme, and where appropriate, additional support for volunteers with disabilities
  • Be clear about what volunteers are seeking from the placement
  • Make sure the volunteer has appropriate line management and knows whom to contact about problems or difficulties
  • Establish a simple and easily accessible process for volunteers to claim out of pocket expenses and ensure funding incorporates volunteer expenses
  • Ensure that health and safety standards for volunteers are in place, including risk assessment of the work volunteers will be doing
  • Ensure that volunteers are covered by appropriate insurance
  • Ensure that a range of policies are in place and applied equally to volunteers e.g. Diversity and/or Equal Opportunities, Policies on harassment including race, sexuality, disability, age and faith, Complaints and Grievance policies for volunteers, Disciplinary policies, Confidentiality policies
  • Organisations should meet the costs of necessary training for volunteers
  • Encourage volunteers to participate in the organisation’s wider decision-making processes
  • Where appropriate, provide opportunities for volunteers to acquire or develop new or existing skills, and support volunteers who want to gain accreditation towards recognised qualifications
  • Monitor and acknowledge the contribution volunteers make to the organisation to funders, other volunteers and the wider public
  • Ensure that the work and contribution of the volunteers adds value and quality to the organisation’s aims and objectives
  • Ensure that the organisation’s working practices do not create obstacles for volunteers, or for potential volunteers from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds
  • Ensuring that staff are involved and informed so that volunteers are integrated within the staff team 
  • Organisations should ensure that their working practices offer appropriate protection to volunteers, as well as paid staff e.g. Health & Safety.

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