Volunteer Centre – Individuals
Volunteering is simple. It’s about giving your time to do something useful that can benefit both you and your community. Many voluntary organisations would not survive without the time freely given by volunteers.
Benefits of volunteering
Volunteering can be a great way to:
- Meet new people
- Get some direction and a positive frame of mind
- Develop an interest in new things
- Learn new skills and increase your knowledge
- Have some fun!
- Gain useful experience, training and qualifications
- Give something back to the community
- Develop your CV
What can I do?
There are lots of different things you can do. Everyone can volunteer, no matter what your age, background and life experiences. There is an opportunity to suit everyone!
Many people use volunteering as an aid to their recovery and as a stepping stone to finding the right paid job, particularly if they have been unable to work for a while. It can give you career ideas you would never have thought of, if you are unsure of what you want to do work wise.
You might not be looking to work but enjoying your volunteering role is important and it should be an enjoyable and worthwhile way to spend some of your time. Volunteering can also be a way for you to build your confidence and fight the stigma that can still be attached to having some sort of mental health problem.
It is as important to think about what you don’t want to do as what you do want to do. You will enjoy it much more and get more out of it if you have found the right role in the right organisation. You may also find that, having gained experience in one sector, you might be able to find work in it, if that is what your end goal is.
If you would like to ‘dip your toe’ in volunteering then why not have a go at helping at an event? Click here to find out more
The next step
Contact the New Forest Volunteer Centre Co-ordinator on Tel: 01425 482773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Browse our website for over 200 volunteering opportunities in the New Forest
Register and apply online: https://www.cfnf.org.uk/volunteer-centre-register-volunteer/
Frequently Asked Questions or 'FAQs':
How long will I have to commit for?
As a volunteer you are free to leave whenever you like.
If things don't work out or your circumstances change it's good to talk it through with the person in charge and give them some notice if possible.
What skills will I need?
That will depend on the opportunity. Many do not require any particular skills, while others might make use of specific training, for example in accountancy or word processing.
Will I gain a qualification?
When you start any sort of voluntary work, find out whether there are any training courses on offer, whether given by the organisation itself or those which you can pick up at your local college.
Some charities may offer you the chance to do an NVQ if you want to do one.
Can you volunteer if you have a Criminal Record?
Yes! Although it may limit the type of volunteering you are able to do.
t is likely you will have to have a Disclosure & Barring Service check (DBS) if you are working with children, young people or vulnerable people.
In such instances it is likely that the role will be exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which means that all previous convictions, however minor or long ago must be disclosed.
If you are concerned about this, then discuss it with your Volunteer Centre or Support Worker.
Will I need references?
Yes, you probably will.
This is especially relevant if you are working with vulnerable client groups, such as children or older people.
Certain roles in volunteering require that a disclosure is sought from the National Criminal Records Bureau, whether you have a criminal record or not.
If this is necessary, the Volunteer Co-ordinator will explain the procedure to you.
If you do not have a previous job or it was too long ago for you to contact them about it, you can ask a Support Worker, your Vocational Advisor, an ex-teacher or another type of professional person for a reference.
Often, organisations will be happy to accept a reference from a friend, landlord or colleague.
If you are not sure about what they will accept then speak to them about it and go from there.
I am on benefits; can I still do voluntary work?
Yes. Jobcentre Plus recognises that volunteering can improve your prospects of finding paid employment.
You are free to volunteer while you are receiving benefits as long as the work you do is unpaid, and you meet the rules of your benefit.
Always check with your benefits adviser before you start volunteering.
You can get more information from Volunteering while on benefits on the DirectGov web site.
There is also a leaflet produced by the Job Centre to help - ‘Volunteering while getting benefits’ DWP1023 | v2.1 (February 2010).
I have some mental health difficulties. Can I do voluntary work?
Yes, it is perfectly okay for you to volunteer.
In fact, many people use volunteering as an aid to their recovery and as a stepping stone to finding the right paid job, particularly if they have been unable to work for a while.
If you are feeling nervous you can arrange for someone to come with you when attending interviews etc.
Do I have to disclose my mental health issues?
It’s up to you whether you want to disclose any mental health problems you may have.
However, by telling the organisation it gives them the opportunity to look at ways for them to support you to carry out your role more confidently and safely.
Disclosing is also a great way to help raise the organisation’s awareness and understanding of how to involve people with a mental health problem as volunteers.