Frequently Asked Questions about volunteering in West Cheshire

What is the volunteering process?

Once you have expressed an interest in a role we will ensure that the organisation receives your expression of interest along with your email and any message you may include in your application. Depending on the organisation the volunteer manager may email you and invite you in for a chat. Alternatively they may send you an application form to complete.  Don’t be put off by this. Most application forms for voluntary positions are quite straight forward and require basic information such as contact details; why you are interested in the role; and referees. If you have any questions regarding the application form, please contact the organisation you are applying to volunteer with.

How long will the process take?

Once you have applied for a role via the Volunteer West Cheshire website, your expression of interest will be directed to the organisation(s) you have chosen. They will be given your details and asked to contact you as soon as possible. This should take no longer than 2 weeks. Please call us on 01244 401 272 if you have received no response within this time or email enquiries@chesterva.org.uk

The process from applying to actually volunteering can vary depending on the role. Roles requiring DBS checks (see below) will take longer. Likewise, some roles may require training prior to volunteering. Some roles such as conservation work or helping out at an event will allow you to start volunteering immediately.

Can I apply for more than one placement?

Yes, you can apply for more than one placement. However, if you are struggling to narrow your options down to 2 or 3 placements, then we would advise you book an appointment. We will be able to help you make an informed decision.

Can I volunteer if I have a disability?

Most roles are accessible to people with disabilities. Having a disability should not be a barrier to volunteering. Depending on your disability, this is something you should address with the organisation beforehand so they can make suitable provisions.

Can I volunteer if I claim benefits?

Volunteering shouldn’t affect your right to benefits. As long as the only money you receive is to cover out of pocket expenses, such as travel. There are no limits on the amount of time you can volunteer for, as long as you continue to meet the conditions of the benefit or tax credit you are receiving. It is also necessary to notify your benefits advisor or work coach about your intentions to volunteer so they can include this in your work plan. Volunteering can count to up to 50% of the 35 hours you are supposed to spend looking for a job. If you plan to volunteer for more than 17.5 hours a week, you are still expected to spend 17.5 hours a week looking for full time work. Volunteering is an excellent way to boost your skills and confidence and thus your employability.

Can I still volunteer if I've retired?

There is no upper age limit to volunteering. Organisations seek a diverse team of volunteers of all ages. Retired people make valuable volunteers as they often bring with them a whole range of skills and experience.

Are there any age restrictions?

Many roles require volunteers to be over the age of 18. However, there are a good range of opportunities for 16+ and even a handful of roles for 14+. Some roles for younger volunteers may require them to be accompanied by an adult. Each role will state whether the role is suitable for under 18’s.  There is no upper age limit to volunteering.

Do I get expenses?

We encourage organisations to ensure that volunteers are not left out of pocket and reimbursed any expenses they may incur. However, some smaller organisations may not be in a position to pay expenses. Likewise, some organisation may have an upper limit on how much travel expenses they are able to pay. This will vary so please take note as to whether they pay expenses before you apply.

How do I include volunteering on my CV?

Volunteering enables you to utilise existing skills whilst learning new skills. These skills are all transferable to the world of work and you should include them in your CV. You should also use your experiences to back up supporting statements for jobs and discuss examples in job interviews where relevant. It is a good idea to keep a journal of your volunteering. You will be surprised at just how much you can give and learn through volunteering.

Will I need a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check?

Some roles will require a DBS check. Roles where you are undertaking a regulated activity will require a check. The organisation will cover any costs for this.  Any offences that you may have will be taken into account and will not necessarily prevent you from volunteering.

You can find further information on Disclosure and Barring Service: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service