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Frequently asked questions

Q. Who can volunteer?

A. Almost anyone! Barnardo's is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for everyone who wants to volunteer with us. Our volunteers include students, former Barnardo's service users, job seekers, retired workers and full-time employees. All Barnardo’s staff and volunteers are expected to be committed to Barnardo’s Basis and Values and we screen all our volunteers who will have contact with children.

Q. Do you offer training to volunteers?

A. Yes we do. There are a range of courses that the organisation will make available to you to help you in your volunteer role. You will also have an induction into your volunteering role with Barnardo’s.

You will be offered training opportunities wherever appropriate on an ongoing basis.

Q. What will I get out of volunteering?

A. It depends on what motivates you. Volunteering with Barnardo's will mean you are making a difference to disadvantaged children and young people. You could also benefit from using your existing skills, learning new ones, and being with other people. If you're looking for work or a change of career, you will gain valuable experience for your CV.

Q. How much time do I have to give as a volunteer?

A. As much as you want. We'll tell you what we're looking for and you can tell us what you can do and when you can do it. Some people volunteer for a couple of hours a week, others help out at one-off events or during school holidays.

Q. What skills do I need to volunteer?

A. We want every volunteer to develop to their full potential, and whilst we try to match the volunteering role to the volunteer’s skills, we can also offer further, relevant training and development opportunities. However, enthusiasm and the ability to smile and encourage are the most important skills required.

Q. Will volunteering affect my benefits?

A. Many people are concerned that volunteering might affect their benefits and with the move to a new benefit system called Universal Credit, there is bound to be some uncertainty. We suggest speaking to your benefits advisor if you have any questions, and please let us know of any concerns so that we may help you.

Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace 6 existing benefits and will be paid if you’re out of work or on a low income. Since April 2013, Universal Credit is in place in two areas of England and will be rolled out to all of the UK from October 2013 until the end of 2017.

Information about Universal Credit can be found on the following website: www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Barnardo’s understands that volunteers in receipt of benefits must be able to attend an interview within 48 hours of being asked. We will enable and support you to do this.

You can receive out-of-pocket expenses without affecting your benefits.

Q. I am a refugee/asylum seeker, can I volunteer?

A. Asylum seekers, people who have refugee status or who have exceptional leave to remain in the UK, are all eligible to volunteer. Barnardo’s may be able to involve you as a volunteer, as long as you have your own accommodation in the UK and fulfil our screening criteria necessary for the volunteering opportunity, including screening checks if required.

Q. I live overseas, but will be visiting the UK for a while; while I’m in the UK, can I volunteer with Barnardo’s?

A. If you are able to fulfil the screening procedures necessary for the volunteering role, including police checks, we may be able to find a volunteering role for you, but we are unable to provide accommodation or living expenses. We also need to be satisfied that your visa or entry clearance conditions allow you to volunteer – we may request to see your visa or passport to check this. If you’re in any doubt about whether you are allowed to volunteer, please contact the UK Border Agency.

If you become resident in the UK, but have lived overseas for three months or more in the last five years, we will need to get police checks done in the country/ies where you were resident.

Q. I’m under 16, can I still volunteer?

A. Barnardo’s welcomes the inclusion of young people as volunteers. The minimum age for volunteers is 10 years old due to insurance cover. Individual services will consider a suitable minimum age for volunteers in each of the roles they offer. For volunteer roles within one of our Retail shops there is a minimum age of 14 years this is due to safety and supervision requirements.

Whilst there are no legal restrictions governing hours of volunteering work for children aged 10-16 years old, it is Barnardo’s policy to comply as far as reasonably possible with the restrictions on paid employment for children and young people of school age.

Q. I have a conviction. Can I still volunteer?

A. As an organisation working with children, Barnardo’s is required by law to carry out clearance checks on volunteers, referred to as ‘screening’. Screening is the process of carrying out checks to find out if a volunteer is suitable to work with children. This process includes interviewing, taking references and carrying out clearance checks

Most convictions won’t stop you from volunteering, but we need to be told of any convictions you have if you will be volunteering in regulated work with children or vulnerable/protected adults.

Q. Do I need to supply references?

A. Checks on all prospective volunteers will include taking up two references, at least one of which should be from someone who knows you from an educational or employment situation. If you are not currently working, a reference must be requested from your last employer, regardless of any lapse in time. If you don’t have previous employment experience, we will talk to you about appropriate references and come up with an agreement. We can’t accept references from family members.

Q. I know it’s not really volunteering, but do you offer work experience opportunities?

A. In most areas of the UK, we have a formal arrangement with Universities to offer placements to social work students and very occasionally we are able to offer work experience and/or placements for a range of other students including social care, education, nursing and related courses, but this all depends on the capacity of a service to support a placement. What we do have, three times a year, are internship opportunities which provide up to 12 weeks of work experience in any area of Barnardo’s work.

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