It is important for any charity which involves volunteers to have in place a volunteering policy. Having a policy document is the basis for establishing a structured volunteering programme with detailed procedures covering all aspects of volunteering. The aim of a volunteering policy document is to provide overall cohesion to all the various procedures that affect volunteering, for example recruitment, expenses, health and safety and so on. It will also help define the role of volunteers within the organisation and how they can expect to be treated.
Everyone has a right to take part in volunteering and to have a fulfilling and productive experience. The purpose of this volunteering policy is to help this charity and its volunteers to enjoy such a positive experience. This policy sets out the broad principles for voluntary involvement with the charity. It is of relevance to all within the charity, including volunteers, employees, trustees and those elected or appointed to positions of responsibility. This policy is endorsed by the Board of Trustees and will be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains appropriate to the needs of the charity and its volunteers.
Commitment to volunteering
The trustees recognise that many people will choose to support a charity through volunteering. It is also acknowledged that volunteers contribute in many ways, that their contribution is unique and that volunteering can benefit users of services, local communities, staff and the volunteers themselves. The charity values the contribution made by volunteers and is committed to involving volunteers in appropriate positions in ways which are encouraging, supportive and which develop volunteering. The trustees recognise their responsibility to arrange its volunteering efficiently and sensitively so that the valuable gift of the volunteer's time is best used to the mutual advantage of all concerned.
Definition of volunteering
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 or charity they offer their services to.
Statement of values and principles
Volunteering is a legitimate and crucial activity that is supported and encouraged by the charity and is not intended to be a substitute for paid employment. The role of volunteers complements but does not replace the role of paid staff.
Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that paid staff are clear about the role of volunteers and to foster good working relationships between paid staff and volunteers.
Within the context of this charity volunteering is also an outworking of an individual’s desire to serve God in a sacrificial manner primarily for the benefit of others, although there may be incidental benefits to the volunteer (e.g. an overseas volunteer will have the opportunity to improve their English language skills while volunteering). 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 charity expects of volunteers and what volunteers expect of the charity.
Volunteer Management and Supervision
The Centre Manager has responsibility for the management and development of voluntary activities within the charity and for the welfare of and duty of care to the charity's volunteers. This responsibility is further delegated to Heads of Departments. The Centre Manager is accountable to the trustees for the welfare of the volunteers. All volunteers will be informed of which member of staff is their supervisor and will also be informed of which nominated fellow volunteer will be their mentor to offer guidance and advice to help the volunteer carry out tasks effectively.
Recruitment & Selection
Brunel Manor is committed to equal opportunities and believes that volunteering should be open to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability and political beliefs. The acceptance of volunteer assistance for a particular role is made primarily on merit, being the individual's suitability to carry out agreed tasks. However this charity is an explicitly Christian charity and it is therefore an additional requirement that volunteers have a personal Christian faith. Every volunteer must have a church commitment but does not have to be baptised or confirmed. Volunteering opportunities will be promoted on the charity’s website which makes them widely accessible. Volunteers who are considered unsuitable for particular tasks will be offered alternative voluntary involvement with the charity.
Volunteers will almost always be selected by the Centre Manager and Head of Pastoral and Guest Programme with final approval being given by the Centre Manager. In special circumstances, there may be a volunteer who can offer less than full-time services to the Centre as they wish to have time for study or to take some time out to seek God’s will for their lives or other reasons. These must be referred to the trustees and, if accepted, their special circumstances must be explained to the team. Volunteers should be over the age of 18 and should commit to at least 6 months. All volunteers will be asked to produce three references of which at least one will be a reference from a pastor or the equivalent. When invited to join the team at Brunel Manor, they will also be required to undertake a DBS check or the equivalent from their home country. The invitation to join the team is subject to clearance and this must be obtained before the volunteer starts working for the charity. Volunteers will have clear and concise task descriptions, which will be subsequently reviewed as required. The task descriptions will be prepared in conjunction with the volunteer and the designated supervisor. 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 these tasks with confidence. The charity also welcomes volunteer helpers who work on a daily basis. The above guidance applies to these volunteer helpers also.
Roles and Duties
Training & Development
All volunteers will be made aware of and have access to all the charity's relevant policies, including those relating to volunteering, health & safety, safe guarding and equal opportunities. The development of training and support for volunteers is a high priority for the charity in order to equip them with the necessary information and skills to carry out their tasks. It will be the responsibility of the Manager and the supervisor to see that this training is provided and documented. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to attend relevant training. Training in the supervision of volunteers will be provided where necessary for those staff with direct supervisory responsibility of volunteers.
Support, Supervision and Recognition
Volunteers should undertake all duties as outlined by the housekeeper and should not be given responsibilities beyond those outlined on the application pack. The Heads of Department must ensure volunteers only work on average 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. Every volunteer must complete a weekly time sheet. Volunteers will be informed as to whom they can take their immediate volunteering concerns and from whom they can seek guidance and support. Volunteers will have access to regular support and supervision which will enable both the volunteer and the supervisor to identify, monitor and evaluate the volunteer's involvement, recognise achievements and identify individual training needs relevant to their particular volunteering role and to their wider personal development. The frequency, duration and format of these sessions will be agreed between the volunteer and the relevant supervisor. Volunteers will be given the opportunity, where relevant and appropriate, to share their views and opinions with the charity's management but must understand that this does not automatically entitle them to directly influence policy and established procedures. Procedures in the form of a reference are in place to give formal recognition of the contribution of the charity's volunteers.
Brunel Manor recognises that the reimbursement of expenses incurred in travelling to and from the place of volunteering or in the course of volunteering is important from an equal opportunities point of view. The charity has had consistent input from the HMRC to provide a monthly volunteer allowance. Volunteers at Brunel Manor will from time to time be able to participate in activities and excursions which are funded by donations from guests, specifically for that purpose. The cost of these trips is neither part of the charitable expenditure of the charity nor part of the reimbursable expenses of volunteers.
The charity's liability insurance policies include the activities of volunteers and liability towards them. The charity does not insure the volunteer's personal possessions against loss or damage.
The charity will advise the volunteer on its confidentiality policy and procedures, where relevant. This would include those relating to personal information held by the charity relating to the volunteer.
The charity aims to treat all volunteers fairly, objectively and consistently. The charity seeks to ensure that volunteers' views are heard, noted and acted upon promptly and aims for a positive and amicable solution based on the charity's guidelines for settling differences. The Centre Manager is responsible for handling problems regarding volunteer complaints or conduct. In the event of a complaint, all relevant facts should be obtained, confirmed and documented as quickly as possible. The Chair of Trustees should be informed this stage. Support will be provided by the charity to the volunteer while it endeavours to resolve the problem in an informal manner. This informal procedure may include the input of a trustee. If an informal resolution proves impossible, the charity's wider disciplinary, grievance or complaints policies and procedures may be referred to. However it must be recognised that in law volunteers do not have the same rights as employees and therefore do not have recourse to employment tribunals. In such cases it is usually best if the volunteering is terminated.
Rights and Responsibilities
The charity 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 charity expects volunteers to:
- Respect the rights and privacy of others
- 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 charity
- Work within agreed guidelines
- Respect the work of the charity and not bring it into disrepute
- Comply with the charity's policies