A volunteer’s eye view of … volunteers’ rights #tuneintuesdays




Much of the recommended volunteer management guidance focusses around good practice rather than legal requirements and ensuring you have these good practice measures in place helps minimise risk to both your organisation and the volunteers who support you.

Do volunteers have rights?

A few years ago the Volunteer Managers Network in Dudley were asked to write a Volunteering Compact to work across Dudley borough and we felt it was important to create a Volunteer Charter, which outlined both a volunteer’s rights and their responsibilities to the organisations they supported. This, we felt, would form the basis of a volunteer management programme for any volunteer-involving group.  To help I have marked where the various ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ are good practice or a legal requirement.

Volunteers’ Rights


Good Practice

To be given a clear idea of their tasks and responsibilities within the organisation.  


To be given the name of someone in the organisation who will look after their interests and who will offer them appropriate support, and supervision on a regular basis.  


To be assured that any information shared with the organisation is kept confidential. [Data Protection]


To be given the same protection under health & safety regulations and public liability as paid employees.   [Health and Safety]


To be offered opportunities for training and skills development, appropriate for the voluntary tasks involved.   yes
To have a complementary relationship with paid staff, who should be fully aware of the role and responsibilities of a volunteer.   yes
To have access i.e. through volunteer meetings etc., and to play a part in the decision-making process of the organisation/project.  


To be informed about the agency’s policies relevant to the volunteer i.e. health & safety, grievance and disciplinary procedures.  


To be provided with appropriate equipment, tools and materials associated to their tasks.   yes
Volunteers may join a trade union relevant to the work in which they are involved. NUPE, MSF and UNISON currently welcome volunteers into their membership.   yes
To be supported when things go wrong and to be encouraged to learn from their mistakes or difficulties.  


Volunteers should not: –    
˜  Be used to replace paid workers [if they do so they may have employment rights]



˜  Have unfair demands made on their time  


˜  Be asked to do something which is against their principles or beliefs   yes
˜  Be subject to any discrimination e.g. on the basis of race, sexuality, age, gender   yes
˜  Be out of pocket through undertaking voluntary work – travel and other expenses should be reimbursed   yes

Volunteers’ Responsibilities

To support and embrace the organisation’s aims and objectives.   yes
To do what is reasonably requested of them, to the best of their ability.   yes
To recognise the right of the organisation to expect quality of service from all its volunteers.   yes
To recognise that they represent the organisation and therefore need to act in an appropriate manner at all times.   yes
To honour any commitment made to the best of their abilities, notifying the organisation in good time should they be unable to keep that commitment e.g. for holidays.   yes
To be willing to undertake appropriate training with respect to health & safety issues, insurance liability and general good practice as necessary for the voluntary work undertaken. [volunteers need to understand they are responsible for their own health and safety and to raise any health and safety issues they observe with the appropriate person] yes yes
To abide by any relevant policies and procedures.   yes
To offer suggestions for changes/improvements in working practices to the Volunteer Co-ordinator/Project Officer.   yes


When it goes wrong …

Good practice procedures around volunteer involvement are essential and should cover all elements of involving volunteers.  If a volunteer feels unfairly treated and the organisation does not have robust, transparent procedures in place to deal with problem solving around their volunteers, they may be tempted to attempt to go to an employment tribunal.

“I’ve been volunteering for XXXX for three years and receive a set sum every week for expenses to make sure that I am not out of pocket.  We also receive this when we do not come in due to being not well or away on holidays with our families.  I had to commit to work 12 hours per week as a ‘volunteer’ and receive £25 per week (subsequently increased to £40) ‘to cover expenses’.  When I became pregnant I was dismissed.  I have taken the organisation to court to claim sex discrimination and unfair dismissal due to sex.”

So has this volunteer been treated unfairly?  The tribunal had to decide whether she was working under a contract of employment in order to claim unfair dismissal. It’s quite clear that the organisation had unwittingly created an employment contract, so she was in fact considered an employee by the fact that she received a fixed payment for volunteering, which was even paid when she was on holiday or off sick, plus she was volunteering for a fixed commitment of 12 hours per week. She thus had rights to claim unfair dismissal.

 “Myself and the other volunteers sign a written agreement and we are expected to attend monthly meetings and induction training. There is no minimum time commitment by volunteers and XXXX reimburse actual out of pocket expenses only. We claim we are employees.”

What do you think about this grievance? Do the volunteers have employment rights?  In this case they don’t for the following reasons:

  1. “expected to attend” – means there is no obligation on the part of the volunteer to attend if they do not wish to
  2. “no minimum time commitment” – the volunteers are not signed up to volunteer for a fixed amount of time per week
  3. “reimburse actual out of pocket expenses only” – there are no fixed amounts

The organisation is clearly very careful to ensure they have good practice in place around involving volunteers, so do not create an employment contract with their volunteers.

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 eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

OPP OF THE DAY: Collection Co-ordinator – Alzheimer’s Society

In this role you will be liaising with local businesses willing to host a collection tin. It will be your responsibility to collect the donations and ensure they are safely banked in order to help us reach more people affected by dementia.

The money raised by our Regional Fundraisers helps to fund our universal services such as the website and National Dementia Helpline, as well as our local services such as Memory Cafés  and Activity Groups. It also helps to fund research into dementia care and cures and our campaigning work.

Must be aged 18 or over


Excellent communication skills, friendly and approachable and willing to learn about dementia and Alzheimer’s Society.

Happy to volunteer in isolation and keep in touch with your team

For this service there is a minimum of 6 months commitment once relevant checks have taken place.


Emma Butler (Community Fundraiser) or  at or Pauline Hollington (Volunteering Officer)
Email: emma.butler@alzheimers.org.uk  / pauline.hollington@alzheimers.org.uk
Telephone: 0121 521 3020.

OPP OF THE DAY: Awareness Raising Volunteer – Alzheimer’s Society

You will be promoting the Alzheimer’s Society services in a wide range of ways including distributing leaflets, booklets and posters, liaising with the media, through social media and attending local groups and community events. You would be visiting libraries, surgeries and other public venues. You would help with stands at awareness-raising events and following relevant training you would be running Dementia Friends sessions on request.

You will be based at the Black Country Office in Tipton, would need to be able to travel independently around Dudley and be available to attend events at least one day a week.

The Awareness Raising volunteer role is essential to promote our services and highlight our presence in local communities. The role also helps to raise awareness of dementia and provide dementia related information. Your involvement will ensure that information about our services is highly visible and readily available to those who need us.

Confident and enthusiastic, have good verbal communication skills, happy to volunteer in isolation but also as part of a team, committed to inclusion, treating people from all backgrounds with dignity

Can provide a committed, flexible approach and are willing to learn

For this service there is a minimum of 6 months commitment once relevant checks have taken place.


Danny Dhadda or Pauline Hollington
Email: danny.dhadda@alzheimers.org.uk / pauline.hollington@alzheimers.org.uk
Telephone: 0121 521 3020.

Job opportunity with The Connect Project – Top Church Training

Café Cook / Trainer 
The Connect Project – Top Church Training

Job Title: Café Cook/Trainer
Job Type: Part Time 25 hours per week
Salary: £8.21 per hour
Annual Leave: 14 days

About the Job:
The Connect Project are looking to recruit a new Cook/ Trainer to join their café connect team. This is no ordinary cook post. You will be assisting The Connect Project to provide and deliver a quality 3 months café work experience opportunity to people between the ages of 16 – 60 who are considered to be the most vulnerable in our society.
The role also requires improving people’s basic life skills and employability skills, including how to cook from scratch: cash handling, savvy shopping and social skills.
This project is designed to support vulnerable people who are currently not in employment, education or training and are in need of mentoring support to build confidence and self-esteem to raise aspirations.

About You:
This exciting opportunity requires a cook that is enthusiastic about cooking and has the passion to support The Connect Project to improve life chances for people in our community.
You will have empathy and understanding of the needs of people and the barriers they face. You like being around and working with people. You can show that you have experience of or the ability of working with people.
You will be committed to the organisation’s ethos and bring enthusiasm and willingness to practical tasks. You can demonstrate an ability to maintain appropriate and professional boundaries with people at all times.
You should have previous experience preparing and cooking food in a busy kitchen. Have experience of training people in catering skills. Provide a professional, efficient and polite customer service at all times. Ensure food and beverages are prepared and served to a high standard. To ensure high levels of cleanliness and hygiene are maintained.
Have basic IT skills, excellent interpersonal skills and understand the importance of working within equal opportunities, safeguarding and confidentiality guidelines.
You are able to communicate on different levels both verbally and in writing. You should have good life skills.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send your CV to topchurchtraining@btconnect.com
or post to: Office address: 30-32 High Street, Brierley Hill, West Midlands. DY5 3AE.

If you are successful in the selection process, we will ask you to complete an application form.
Deadline for applications will be Friday 28th June at 5pm. CV’s and applications will not be considered after this time.

Interviews schedule for the beginning of July.

Citizens Advice Dudley Borough Volunteer Vacancies

We are looking to increase further our team of volunteers, based in Dudley House, Stone Street, Dudley, for the roles of:

Contact Centre Assessors
(Telephone, Email and/or Webchat). No experience necessary. All training and support given. Post training, this position can lead to an advisor position if desired.

Generalist Adviser – previous Citizens Advice experience required.

Trustee – to join our current Board of Trustees to provide leadership and governance to our organisation, 4 -5 meetings a year.

If you wish to apply, please email advice@dudleycabx.org for an application pack.
Please note CV’s are not accepted
To find out more about our Organisation please visit our local website at: www.citizensadvicedudley.org or the national website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Closing date for applications Thursday 20th June 2019.

OPP OF THE DAY: Treasurer – Parkinson’s UK (Dudley Branch)


Local groups across the UK are run by volunteers and offer friendship and support to people living with Parkinson’s, their families and carers across the UK. The Dudley Branch is active within your local community and regular activities include a monthly meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month, a monthly informal café meeting in Stourbridge, fornightly exercise class in central Dudley, plus other activities and events.

The Branch Treasurer leads the financial activity of the group. Working closely with the Branch Chair, you would:

• accurately record financial activity, keeping the group and the Parkinson’s UK Office informed of the group’s financial position
• keep up to date on Parkinson’s UK’s financial policies and share them with the group
• provide regular reports to the committee at a monthly committee meeting on the financial status of the group including final accounts at the annual general meeting
• engage with local staff and volunteers to meet the needs of local people affected by Parkinson’s
• deal with financial administration for the group, including sending annual financial returns to the UK Office, ensuring volunteer expenses are paid accurately and working within the guidelines provided
• be a signatory on the group’s bank accounts
• work with the Volunteer Co-ordinator to enable the group to operate within Parkinson’s UK’s guidelines to bring forward the day when no one fears Parkinson’s.

You would not be required to attend the group’s activities on a regular basis and support from other committee members would be provided around banking of branch funds from activities and meetings.

They are looking for volunteers who: 

• have strong numerical and communication skills, as you will be working with a wide range of people and leading the group’s finances.
• be collaborative and team focused, as you will need to discuss the group’s finances with the committee and local staff
• are able to make balanced decisions taking into account multiple views in order to meet the needs of local people with Parkinson’s
• have a positive attitude to make things happen in our local community
• will contribute to meetings in an open and inclusive way so that the views and feedback of people with Parkinson’s shape the support the group provides
• have IT skills to enable you to read and edit spreadsheets and to communicate efficiently with other volunteers, staff and people affected by Parkinson’s in our local area.
Previous financial or accounting experience is not essential but would advantageous.

You may also be asked to undertake relevant learning and development opportunities and be invited to attend events and meetings.

This may particularly suit a retired individual with experience of bookkeeping, financial and budget management or someone recently qualified or looking for work experience related to financial and budget management of charity funds.

To be a signatory on a local group bank account, banks will perform a credit check. For this reason, volunteers cannot undertake this role if they have been declared bankrupt.


The Volunteering team
Email: volunteering@parkinsons.org.uk
Telephone: 020 7963 9328

A volunteer’s eye view of … recognition #tuneintuesdays


This really sums up volunteer recognition in a nutshell doesn’t it?  The simplest ways of appreciating what volunteers do are often the best way, but every volunteer is different and once you get to know them you will soon learn that there are those who want to operate under the radar, whereas others love to be in the spotlight!

“On the surface, saying thanks is easy – we all do it every day without thought. But saying thanks in an organisational context can be a very different prospect. Firstly, it can be easy just to forget. If, like many charities, your trustees and leadership team have an ambitious vision, then the pressure is on to always look forward, at the expense of reflection.

Or your charity may be characterised by a rigid hierarchy that doesn’t always encourage positive feedback to be filtered down. Because volunteers don’t get paid, you might think that we should naturally be more inclined to thank them. But it might be just as easy to take their generosity for granted, especially if they have been with you for some time. Perhaps worst of all, though, is the ill-judged thank you – too fleeting, insincere, or undeserved. At best it may fall flat; at worst it can anger and linger.

 So how, how often, and to whom you demonstrate gratitude should be as integral to your volunteer management strategy as their recruitment, training and retention. “

NCVO – Quick guide to thanking volunteers

Let’s get thinking now about how you can show your volunteers you appreciate them, which in turn will lead to your volunteers staying with you as they will feel happy and valued. Retention is a talent volunteer managers need to cultivate!

A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘you’ve been a star’ is a great way to show your appreciation, but as it says above, you should mean it and it should never be a token gesture.  Volunteers need to feel welcome, appreciated and part of the organisation and it needs to be an integral part of your volunteer management.

There’s also the question of who should thank volunteers.  It would be great if it’s not just the person who looks after the volunteers on a day-to-day basis, but the Chairman or Chief Executive. You could put on an afternoon tea or coffee morning for your volunteers and invite the Chief Exec to present certificates.

In Dudley borough we are very fortunate as part of the Mayor’s role is to be Volunteering Champion for their year in office. Our lovely local Mayors are always delighted to host visits for teams of local volunteers, giving them a tour of the Council Chamber, fascinating insight into the local history and also a cuppa afterwards.  They talk to every single invitee and are always happy to present certificates or say a few words of appreciation.

A nice gesture

“Every year we have a volunteer party and the Chairman gives us all a special certificate to show his appreciation for our efforts.  I love volunteering and would do it anyway, but it’s lovely to feel valued as it makes you feel like you’ve made a difference.  I really feel part of the team, we all do and it’s why we give our time every week.”

 Celebrating your volunteers need not cost a fortune and you could design your own certificates in house, or contact the Volunteer Centre who have lots of templates on file and will happily print you some off in colour on white card.  You could also have awards for length of service eg 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years etc.

To nominate or not to nominate – that is the question!

Nominating volunteers for local and national awards is a great way to recognise your volunteers, but not every volunteer is happy to be in the spotlight. You have some volunteers who just want to turn up and help, happy with their ‘thank you’ and attending a low key volunteer gathering, whereas others would love to be the centre of attention and have their evening dress/dinner suit on standby as soon as they receive an invitation to a volunteer awards event.  They have probably prepared an acceptance speech too just in case!  I’m sure you can identify volunteers you know from both these descriptions.  Not everyone likes to stand out and over the years we have had some very shy volunteers receiving awards at Dudley Volunteer Awards, who are really not comfortable with taking to the stage. That’s human nature and that’s why we love our volunteers isn’t it, because they are all unique with different personalities?

I’ve actually written a guide on this topic, which you will hopefully find helpful and get you thinking about how you can celebrate your amazing volunteers. A volunteer is for life, not just Volunteers Week!

Volunteers rarely give their time for the joy of recognition, but that doesn’t mean it won’t drive them to perform at higher levels or keep coming back to volunteer in the future.

In their own words …

Every year Dudley CVS run Dudley Volunteer Awards and this year’s #dva19 will celebrate and recognise amazing local people who give their time to make Dudley borough a better place to live.  Anyone can nominate an individual or group of volunteers and we launch the awards in Volunteers Week each year, with the closing date in early September. Each volunteer who is nominated receives an invitation to this wonderful celebration and have their name called out on the night, so they can be presented with a certificate. Here are some lovely snippets from #dva18 so you can share the pride of these outstanding volunteers.

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 eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk