Volunteering Policy. 1. Introduction

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1 1. Introduction This policy sets out the broad principles for voluntary involvement in the work of Blackfriars Advice Centre. It is of relevance to all the stakeholders within the organisation, including volunteers, staff, members, and those elected or appointed to positions of responsibility. This policy is endorsed by the Board and will be reviewed by senior management on an annual basis to ensure that it remains appropriate to the needs of the volunteers and Blackfriars Advice Centre. 2. Our commitment Blackfriars Advice Centre recognises that people have a right to participate in the life of their communities through volunteering and that volunteering can help people fulfil their potential and realise their capabilities. The Centre believes that volunteers can contribute in different ways in improving social outcomes and meeting our charitable objectives and that volunteering can benefit our service users and local communities, our staff and volunteers themselves. We value the contribution made by volunteers and are committed in involving volunteers in our organisation and its activities and in engaging them in appropriate activities and in ways which are encouraging, supportive, which develop volunteering and the skills and capabilities of our volunteers. Our fundamental objective is to ensure that volunteers have a fulfilling and productive experience and that their achievements are recognised throughout the whole organisation. 3. Definition Volunteering is an important expression of citizenship as well as an important component of democracy. Volunteers are people who unpaid and of their own free will, contribute their time, energy and skills to benefit the community. 4. Statement of values and principles Volunteering is a legitimate and crucial activity in building civic capability that is supported and encouraged by Blackfriars Advice Centre, It is not intended to be a substitute for paid employment. The role of volunteers complements but does not replace the role of paid staff. The Centre will take appropriate steps to ensure that paid staff are clear about the role of volunteers, and to foster good working relationships between paid staff and volunteers. Volunteers will not be used during times of industrial action to do the work of paid staff. The volunteer role is a gift relationship, binding only in honour, trust and mutual understanding. No enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise, can be imposed on volunteers to attend, give or be set a minimum amount of time to carry out the tasks involved in their voluntary activity. Likewise the organisation cannot be compelled to provide either regular work or payment or other benefit for any activity undertaken by the volunteer. Although volunteers offer time freely and willingly without binding obligation, there is a presumption of mutual support and reliability. Reciprocal expectations are acknowledged both of what the organisation expects of volunteers and what volunteers expect of the organisation. June of 5

2 5. Volunteer Co-ordination All volunteers will have a nominated member of staff or volunteer to offer guidance and advice to help the volunteer carry out tasks effectively. Volunteers will be informed of who to contact to receive support and supervision. Volunteer co-ordination will be explicitly referred to in all relevant job descriptions within the organisation. The nominated post holder with overall responsibility for the development of voluntary activities within the organisation is the Chief Executive. This person is responsible for the management and welfare of the organisation's volunteers. 6. Recruitment & Selection Blackfriars Advice Centre is committed to diversity and equal opportunities and believes that volunteering should be open to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, social class, religion sexuality, HIV status, marital status or caring responsibility and political beliefs or of any other factor irrelevant to the purpose in view. The acceptance of volunteer assistance for a particular role is made on merit, the sole selection criterion being the individual's suitability to carry out agreed tasks. Information about the volunteer not relevant to the performance of the volunteering tasks concerned will be disregarded by the organisation in terms of recruitment and selection. Volunteering opportunities will be widely promoted in ways that makes them accessible to all members of the community and in particular to those who are traditionally less likely to participate in voluntary activity. All volunteers will be asked to produce two references and will be required to undertake a CRB check. Volunteers will have a clear and concise task description, which will be subsequently reviewed every year. The task description will be prepared in conjunction with the volunteer and the designated person referred to above. New volunteers will be properly inducted into the organisation. Volunteers will be properly briefed about the activities to be undertaken and given all the necessary information to enable them to perform with confidence. 7. Training and Development All volunteers will be made aware of and have access to all the organisation's relevant policies, including those relating to volunteering, health and safety, child protection and equal opportunities. The development of training and support for volunteers is a high priority for the organisation in order to equip them with the necessary information and skills to carry out their tasks. It will be the responsibility of the designated person referred to above to see that this training is provided. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to attend relevant training. Training in the management of volunteers will be provided for those staff with direct responsibility for same. 8. Support, Supervision and Recognition Volunteers will have a named person to whom the can take their volunteering concerns and seek guidance and support. Volunteers will have access to regular support and supervision. This will enable both the volunteer and the named person to identify, monitor and evaluate the volunteer's involvement, recognise achievements and identify individual training needs, including that relevant to their particular volunteering role and to their wider personal development. The frequency, duration and format of these sessions will be negotiated between the volunteer and the designated June of 5

3 officer referred to above. Volunteers will be given the opportunity, where relevant, to share their views and opinions with the organisation's wider staff, at staff meetings and other forums. 9. Expenses Blackfriars Advice Centre recognises that the reimbursement of expenses in the course of volunteering is important from an equal opportunities point of view. This is necessary to ensure that all individuals have access to voluntary opportunities. The organisation's volunteers are able to claim reasonable out of pocket expenses, subject to the production of receipts as evidence of the expenditure. What can be reclaimed from the organisation and the calculation of expenses will be explained to the volunteer before they start any activity likely to give rise to expenses. All out-of-pocket expenses, if required, will be reimbursed, including expenses for travel and meals. Volunteers must keep receipts of all expenses and complete the expense claim forms available from the Head of Operations. 10. Insurance The organisation's liability insurance policies include the activities of volunteers and liability towards them. The organisation does not insure the volunteer's personal possessions against loss or damage. 11. Confidentiality This organisation s process requires an explicit confidentiality policy, which all workers, including Trustees, volunteers, interns and staff, are obliged to observe. Personal details of staff, volunteers and service users are treated in the strictest of confidence. Information of a confidential nature should not be disclosed to anyone outside Blackfriars Advice Centre, without prior permission from the volunteer s supervisor and explicit consent of the individual concerned. All volunteers are provided with a copy of the Confidentially Policy and are expected to work within it. 12. Resolving Problems The relationship between the organisation and its voluntary workers is entirely voluntary and does not imply any contract. However, it is important that the organisation is able to maintain its agreed standards of service to the clients who use it, and it is also important that volunteers should enjoy making their contribution to the service. If a volunteer does not meet with the organisation s standards the following procedure will apply: 1. A supervisor will meet with the volunteer to express their concerns and an action plan will be developed to ensure that the standards are met. 2. If this does not resolve the concern then a meeting with the Volunteer Co-ordinator will be convened. 3. If standards are not met then the organisation will have the right to end the volunteer placement. At all times the volunteer will be able to freely state their case and to have a friend or union official to accompany them in any meetings. If at any time the reputation of the Centre is put at risk by the activities or the behaviour of the volunteer the Centre can put an end to the placement with immediate effect and this decision will be taken by the Volunteer Co-ordinator. If the volunteer is not satisfied with this decision they may request a meeting with the Chief Executive who will hear their concerns and make a decision within five days. If a volunteer is dissatisfied with any aspect of their work they should: 1. Initially explain their dissatisfaction to their supervisor 2. If that does not resolve the concern then a meeting with the Volunteer Co-ordinator should be convened 3. If that does not resolve the issue then a formal meeting with the appropriate senior manager for the service should follow. June of 5

4 4. If after this, the Centre is unable to resolve the volunteer s grievance, the placement will discontinue. At all times the volunteer will be freely able to state their case and to have a friend or union official to accompany them. 11. Complaints about people If a volunteer wishes to raise anything relating to another volunteer or any staff member, they should in the first instance talk to the person concerned, to try and resolve the matter informally. If this is not possible, the volunteer should speak to their Supervisor. The Supervisor will raise the issue with the person concerned as soon as reasonably possible or agree to organise a meeting between the person raising the issue and the person to whom the issue relates. If this does not resolve the matter then the procedures under section 10 will apply. 13. Rights and Responsibilities The organisation recognises the rights of volunteers to: know what is (and what is not) expected of them have adequate support in their volunteering receive appreciation have safe working conditions be insured know their rights and responsibilities if something goes wrong receive relevant out-of-pocket expenses receive appropriate training be free from discrimination be offered the opportunity for personal development The organisation expects volunteers to: be reliable be honest respect confidentiality make the most of training and support opportunities carry out tasks in a way that reflects the aims and values of the organisation work within agreed guidelines respect the work of the organisation and not bring it into disrepute comply with the organisation's policies 14. Health and Safety Blackfriars Advice Centre is committed to ensuring that volunteers are not exposed to unnecessary risks while volunteering. Volunteers also have responsibility not to expose themselves and others to unnecessary risks. The organisation has a valid insurance policy covering all employees and volunteers on Blackfriars Advice Centre s business as well as on its premises. A copy of the complete Health and Safety policy will be made available to volunteers during induction. The organisation has a duty to provide and maintain healthy working conditions for all individuals in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act Whatever information, training and supervision is required for this purpose will be provided. Volunteers must follow health and safety guidelines and any concerns or incidents must be reported in line with the procedures in the health and safety policy. 15. Ending Volunteering Placement We ask that volunteers who wish to end their placement give us as much notice as possible. Blackfriars Advice Centre will also try to give volunteers advance notice if their placement may need to end sooner than planned. Volunteers who leave Blackfriars Advice Centre for any reason June of 5

5 will be invited to an exit interview. This procedure is designed to help improve the support given to volunteers and to record their achievements and provide vital statistical information. June of 5

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