Volunteering For Over 25’s
Here you will find a comprehensive guide to volunteering and also how you would go about becoming a volunteer in your local community. At VASA we aim to show you how you can become involved in volunteering and help others.
This is a vital resource for someone considering volunteering for the first time and doesn’t know where to start. It is also a useful source of information for more experienced volunteers and contains answers to many common questions.
- What Is volunteering?
"Volunteering is the giving of time and energy through a third party, which can bring measurable benefits to the volunteer, individual beneficiaries, groups and organisations, communities, the environment and society at large. It is a choice undertaken of one's free will, and is not motivated primarily for financial gain or for a wage or salary"
Scottish Executive (2004)
Volunteering is often described as the giving of your time and experience, without expectation of reward. However, the reality is very different.
The personal benefits and developmental opportunities gained through volunteering cannot be emphasised enough. Recent statistics estimated that as many as 30% of the adult population in Scotland give their time at some point in the year to formal volunteering, and many more give help to others informally. It is part of our culture and makes a huge contribution to the economy in Scotland.
Volunteers in South Ayrshire provide a wide and diverse range of services in the local community. These include: advice giving; befriending; driving; administration; fundraising; literacy and IT; conservation and gardening; fundraising; counselling; group support and much more.
Opportunities for volunteering exist within local and national organisations with a local focus, and they register their vacancies through VASA. All current volunteering opportunities can be viewed by visiting our opportunities section or by visiting Volunteer Scotland.
- Why Volunteer?
People volunteer for many different reasons. It may be to benefit them in some way, perhaps to benefit others - but most often people who volunteer achieve both of these at the same time.
People decide to volunteer to use their spare time effectively, to meet new people, to help their community, to help a cause they believe in, or just to gain another interest. Some people have more specific reasons for volunteering, such as gaining a new skill or experience to improve their chances of accessing further education or a new job. Others volunteer simply because it is part of their beliefs and values.
Whatever the reason for volunteering, most people who start find other motivations to keep it going for the sheer enjoyment and fulfilment they gain from being involved.
- Benefits of volunteering
There are a many great benefits to volunteering which include advantages to the volunteer, the organisation and the local community. In South Ayrshire, volunteering accounts for £41.1 million towards the local economy.
The benefits may depend on why you want to volunteer and what you hope to achieve.
Here are some of the many advantages of volunteering:
- Keeps you fit and active
- You can meet new people
- Helps you to use and improve your skills
- Helps you to learn new skills
- Puts you in touch with like-minded people
- Provides structure to your day
- Shows prospective employers that you are interested in the your community
- Enables you to work alongside other people and in diverse communities
- A great way to use your spare time
- Reduce feelings of isolation
- Increase motivation
- Boost confidence and self esteem
- Gain valuable work experience
- Try something you've always wanted to do
- Helps you to choose what you want, or don’t want to do in life
- Become more aware of the local community and its needs
- Enhance your CV.
Volunteering may lead to paid employment or help you towards a career change.
- How do I become a volunteer?
First you need to register with us. You can do this by doing one of the following:
Download a Volunteer Registration Form (below) which can be printed and sent to the Freepost address on the form or send to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
phone: (01292) 263 626
call into our office at 27-29 Crown Street, Ayr, KA8 8AG
Once we have received your completed Volunteer Registration Form we will contact you to arrange an appointment to come in for an informal chat to discuss your volunteering options.
At this initial meeting we will help you to identify a suitable volunteering opportunity – you may even identify more than one! The next step will involve us passing your details to the relevant organisation so they can contact you directly to provide more specific details about your chosen opportunity and progress your application. If you are interested in more than one organisation, this step will usually help you identify the most suitable to your needs.
We also provide a Drop-in outreach service in the Carrick Buildings, Girvan once a month. Please contact the office on (01292) 263 626 to find out when we are there.
- Who can volunteer?
The answer anyone who wants to and has the time to offer.
You may have one or two hours each week to spare or you may be able to give more than that. Volunteering is a commitment, but it can fit around your lifestyle and availability.
We help people, from a wide range of backgrounds and lifestyles, access volunteering opportunities which suit their individual needs and skill. Voluntary organisations in South Ayrshire have benefited from the skills and experience of a wide and diverse range of volunteers
- Is there an age barrier to volunteering?
There is no age barrier in becoming a volunteer. For some opportunities have a minimum age of 16 and for driving positions the minimum age is usually 25.
- How can volunteering fit with my needs?
It is important that your volunteering opportunity fits your needs as well as those of the organisation. There is no benefit to volunteering if you find it difficult to meet the commitment.
If you are asked to carry out a task you don't want to do, then you are unlikely to gain satisfaction from your volunteering..
- What about insurance?
It is the responsibility of the organisation to make sure that all volunteers are insured.
In some cases, if for example you are a volunteer driver using your own car, you will be advised to inform your insurance company that you are volunteering but it should not have any effect on your insurance payments.
Please remember to ask about insurance before beginning your placement.
- How often do I have to volunteer?
You can volunteer from a couple of hours per month to whatever you feel comfortable with -depending on the opportunity. We recommend that you start off slowly and build up the hours to suit you. Your expected time commitment to a volunteering opportunity will vary depending on the activity carried out.
Please check the vacancy and the commitment required before you proceed with your application. It is common courtesy to inform your volunteer supervisor/contact if you are unable to attend on the agreed date/time as some organisations rely on their volunteers to carry out services for their clients.
- Will I get training?
Most organisations have a volunteer training or induction programme. This will usually involve things like health and safety, communication and boundaries. It can also include specific training in areas such as: recognising the signs of dependency; lifting and handling or training on how to operate equipment.
We encourage all our member organisations to offer induction training which covers the organisation’s main aims and history, and any other training which will help volunteers to effectively and comfortably carry out their tasks.
- Will I need a reference and/or a PVG Check?
Many volunteer involving organisations will ask you for two referees as part of their recruitment process. Your referees should NOT be members of your family, but may include a health professional, education provider, previous/ current employer or similar. If in doubt ask.
Volunteers who come into contact with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults as part of their normal volunteering activity are subject to PVG check. You do not have to agree to a PVG check, but refusal may affect your ability to volunteer in a particular capacity. An organisation (or an individual) cannot run a PVG check on you without your permission. Results of any check will be treated confidentially and procedures will be in place within each organisation to ensure that the information is known only to one member of the organisation.
If you are worried about any information which may appear on a PVG check, it is a good idea to ask the organisation what policies they have in place to deal with PVG checks for volunteers - to ensure that volunteers with non relevant convictions are not treated unfairly.
If you have a previous conviction and are concerned how this may affect your volunteering, it is best to discuss this privately with your volunteer supervisor/manager in advance of a PVG check being carried out. Having a previous conviction does not prevent you from volunteering in general. In cases where direct contact with a child, young person or vulnerable adult does not take place, PVG checks will not be required.
- Will I get expenses?
Most organisations that VASA work with do offer out-of-pocket expenses such as travel to/from your volunteering location. The provision of out-of-pocket expenses is entirely up to the individual organisation and some smaller organisations may not have the finances available to pay expenses.
Please ask the organisation if you are in any doubt as to whether you will receive expenses.
- What happens once my details are passed on?
Many organisations will have a set procedure for recruiting new volunteers. You may be required to go for an informal chat or formal interview, disclosure checks, reference checks, trial period and induction training. Don't be put off by these procedures - they are in place to help ensure that you are fully informed of all aspects of the opportunity that you are interested in. These procedures are in place to help you become part of the team. Volunteering organisations are delighted to have people who are willing to give their time and effort to help their cause. The volunteering environment is relaxed and this is why volunteering is such an enjoyable and refreshing experience.
It should be noted that some organisations only recruit or train their volunteers at certain times during the year or when they have enough potential volunteers to run a training course. If this is the case, then it may take some time before you are able to start. Perhaps we could find you another opportunity in the meantime!
Obtaining references and disclosures can be a lengthy process and can delay the start date.
- Will volunteering affect my benefits?
Volunteering is unlikely to affect your benefits. However, we strongly recommend to anyone in receipt of any state benefit is to inform your benefit advisor / department of your intention to volunteer and keep them up-to-date of any changes in your circumstances.
Job Seekers Allowance - volunteering will not affect your Job Seekers Allowance provided you are volunteering with a registered charity or an organisation that works to benefit the community. It should be noted that these are the only type of volunteering opportunities that we provide. Prior to beginning any volunteering activity, you should inform your Job Centre Advisor.
Personal Independent Payment - If you are in receipt of a PIP and have any questions about volunteer work and if this would affect your benefit please call Personal Independent Payment Enquiries on 0845 8503322.
- Can I get an award for being a volunteer?
VASA are proud of our SAVA Award for volunteers who have made a big contribution to their community through volunteering. We liaise with volunteering involving organisations for nominations for our SAVA Awards and also hold a yearly award ceremony. For more information call us on 01292 263626 or email: email@example.com
SAVA Awards are split into four categories: Bronze - 5 years
Silver - 10 years
Gold - 15 years
Lifetime achievement - 20 years