So you want to volunteer and start looking at what’s out there
Where do you start? I’m guessing you may have spotted an advertisement for volunteers somewhere, maybe a poster, a leaflet, or on the internet? Did you identify with the advert or did it put you off? If you see this for example, would you assume they were looking for older volunteers and you are in your teens? Or maybe this implies they are only seeking female volunteers and you are a man! Is this organisation open to a variety of age, genders and abilities, or is the organisation seeking a particular type of volunteer to suit their client group?
Are there any clues about what the organisation does or the types of role available? It’s not a problem if there’s no more info here but a contact phone number or email address would be helpful to find out more. It’s a bit of a cheek asking you to send a SAE if they want you to give your time don’t you think? I’m guessing you are probably going to walk away from this one and look elsewhere aren’t you?
What sort of information do you need to see if this is the right organisation or role for you?
It would be great if there was the name of the organisation seeking volunteers on there and maybe a link to a website or Facebook page so you can find out more. If they could give you somewhere to do a little more research how much better would that be? Perhaps you are looking for a particular type of role or a particular area that’s handy for you to volunteer. Where the organisation is based would be helpful, what they do and the type of roles available would all help you to make an informed decision about whether it may be a good option for you.
Some organisations may have age restrictions and not take volunteers under a certain age because of the nature of the roles they are recruiting for, or the client group they support. Many organisations will not take volunteers under 18 as the majority of insurance policies will not cover younger volunteers.
Do they really want volunteers? There’s no info and no-one is responding when I try to get in touch!
So you’ve done a bit of digging and found out what the organisation does which is a great start and they are advertising that they want volunteers, but there doesn’t seem to be any info on this site. Wait, you’ve found something elsewhere on the site but it’s dated 4 years ago, is this still current? Brilliant you’ve found a contact page, but it’s bounced straight back, so it looks like the email address is wrong and there is no phone number. Is the organisation still running? Do they actually really want volunteers? If you can’t get in touch how are you supposed to find out more information and apply?
Ever wondered what happens when prospective volunteers are given the run around?
This fabulous video, tells the tale of a lovely lady who simply wants to help out. By the end it’s clear she’s disillusioned to say the least. If this has happened you would give up the idea of volunteering altogether wouldn’t you?
It’s not rocket science – it’s called communication!
So you’ve finally found the right information and someone has been in touch at last. Now you are really rolling aren’t you? Hang on you’ve got a query, so who do you talk to? You’ve rung the number you have been given and the person who answers has no idea who deals with volunteers and there is no person of that name there! You are passed around several people, none of whom know anything about volunteering, but hang on a minute the mystery is solved – Mark left last week and no-one is picking this up. Someone will ring you back.
Whoop whoop you have received an application form in the post
There are page and pages of questions and some of them you just can’t answer. It’s in a very tiny print and some of it doesn’t make sense at all! If English isn’t your first language or you struggle with reading and writing you aren’t going to complete this are you?
Hang on it’s asking for details of qualifications and if you have a university degree? You can’t fill this in, you left school at 16 and don’t have any formal qualifications. They were asking for volunteers to help in a charity shop, why would you need a degree?
There’s a long section asking about criminal records and convictions, oh no I can’t fill this in and may as well give up. It doesn’t mention the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, so that bike you pinched from a skip when you were 16 will stop you volunteering, even though it’s 32 years ago. They clearly are very picky about who they have volunteering, you were hoping to volunteer repairing donated furniture and helping in the warehouse sorting donations, why would a criminal record from years ago be relevant?
Oh my goodness they are asking for a full work history for the last 20 years and 3 referees, which must be past employers. I have been bringing up my family and not worked for 16 years, so how can I fill that in? If I can’t provide work references this means I can’t volunteer can I?
Ooh great they’ve sent me some role descriptions for the roles they are recruiting for, I’m sure I can do these
Let’s have a look at these, I’m feeling really positive. Oh no the language in this document reads like something a solicitor would send you. That’s a bit scary and I really don’t understand some of it. They must be after really intelligent volunteers and I’m not sure I will measure up. Look at the list of skills and experience they are asking for, I can’t do half of those!
Wait a minute this role description is 4 pages, surely they don’t expect their volunteers to do all this do they? It’s talking about duties of a volunteer and responsibilities. That’s a lot to ask for a volunteer! Wow this really does read like a job description. Maybe this means that volunteering will lead to a paid job, it certainly reads like something you would give to a new employee. That would be great if they are going to employee me when I’ve been volunteering for a while.
Some of the duties and responsibilities in here are quite demanding though aren’t they? Plus they are asking for 3 full days a week, but I was hoping to juggle this around my caring commitments. It looks like they want a minimum commitment of 18 hours so that’s going to cause me problems and the Job Centre are going to stop my benefit if I do that many hours aren’t they?
It says I need to pay £250 for my training, but if I guarantee to give them 300 hours of volunteering I don’t have to pay it back. That’s no problem, but where am I going to find that sort of money? Looks like I can’t afford to volunteer there.
I’m so disappointed and I was really looking forward to volunteering, but it looks like volunteering isn’t going to work for me 😦
Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂 Just contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org