Volunteer FAQs

Volunteer FAQs

Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to volunteering in general as well as specific questions related to Volunteer Connect.

If your question does not appear here then please feel free to get in touch with us via the Contact Us page.

COVID-19

There are a number of ways you might consider volunteering:

Borough volunteering

We have launched our new Barnet Community Response Volunteers website. Please register if you’d like to support Barnet’s COVID-19 initiative. If you want to volunteer to support a local organisation doing ‘regular’ volunteering please register as usual on our Volunteering Barnet website here.

 

Informal volunteering

The simplest that you might have considered is to look out for your local neighbours and trusted friends. Such as offering help with shopping and other errands if people cannot get out of the house. It’s not just about neighbours who’re self-isolating, but those who might also appreciate an offer of help are:

● medical staff and volunteers

● staff and volunteers in key worker roles

● supermarket staff

● delivery drivers

If you are considering joining a local informal neighbourhood volunteering group, please check our guidance to ensure you have a safe volunteering experience.

 

National Volunteering

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up with the GoodSamApp to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. GoodSam have paused recruitment while they process the thousands of volunteer applications that came through after the launch of the scheme. If you are still interested in volunteering please wait a few weeks for the application process to reopen. You can keep an eye on GoodSamApp and @RoyalVolService for updates.

Many local groups and voluntary organisations are going to be stretched at the moment and are focusing on providing COVID-19 response. You can continue to register as a volunteer to support charities and groups that you care about by searching our list of local organisations that need volunteer support here. Please be aware that they may take some time getting back to you and depending on how they have been affected by the current situation and some may take several weeks to reply.

Depending on which borough the person lives in, there will be a team of volunteers willing to help. If you’re seeking help for a Barnet resident, please follow this link to make the council response team aware of the person in need. If they live in a different borough, we suggest getting in touch with the borough’s COVID-19 Central Hub.

There are ways you may be able to volunteer from home. You may want to offer phone support to your friends, relatives or neighbours in need – have a look at these guidelines from the Royal Voluntary Service about getting started as a check-in-and-chat volunteer.

You can also volunteer to become a telephone befriender so could register with the Barnet Community Response Volunteers.

If you are already volunteering with a charity or organisation but are having to stay home, why not get in touch with your volunteer coordinator to find out if you can volunteer remotely.

Alternatively, the following organisations are in need of volunteers to help remotely:

The government have given clear advice for everyone to stay at home as much as possible. If you are volunteering from home, you can continue to do so. If your volunteering requires leaving the house, this should be done following government advice which states that people providing care to others and needing to travel may leave the house to do so. Therefore, if your local volunteer activity involves providing help to vulnerable people or if your volunteering cannot be done from home you may leave the house to do so.

When formally volunteering where possible we recommend that you carry evidence of why you are volunteering. A letter or online documentation can often be provided from an organisation/Barnet Council.

Key worker guidance is different from the guidance asking people to stay at home. It’s about whether you can send your children to school. The guidance lists activities key workers do and applies to people in paid and unpaid roles.

99.9% of volunteers are honest and absolutely want to do the right thing – sadly there are a handful of people who may exploit the situation. To minimise the risk seek help by asking a trusted neighbour or relative for help.

Volunteers also need to be careful about the situations they are putting themselves in, for example not going into people’s homes alone, please read our guidance on staying safe while helping others.

Charities have procedures in place like criminal records checks (DBS) and references to prevent people from being able to take advantage. Anyone who needs support with collecting prescriptions, or support in their homes, should make a request through the council’s central response hub. These teams will be carrying out the appropriate background check on volunteers.

You can volunteer without having a DBS check, however, there may be some roles you are prohibited from doing until you have completed a DBS check. This depends on whether the activity is regulated or unregulated. DBS checks for volunteers are free of charge and the organisation you volunteer with should cover any administrative fees.

It is against the law for an organisation to recruit a barred volunteer into a regulated role. If you yourself know you are barred from certain activities (you will have been informed by DBS if you are), it is an offence to volunteer in regulated activities.

If you do have a criminal record, there are still roles you can carry out. These are called unregulated activities. Basic support tasks for people who are self-isolating such as shopping and dog walking does not amount to regulated activity, so, therefore, would not require a DBS. Organisations should risk assess volunteer roles to determine whether the role is eligible for a DBS check. You can use the DBS eligibility calculator to find out if the volunteer role you want to undertake requires a DBS check.

Volunteers are making a valuable contribution to the lives of people who are self-isolating and need help at the moment, and we want to encourage people to continue to volunteer to support their communities. However, the reason we are volunteering is to keep people safe and to prevent the spread of the virus. The last thing we want is to infect someone who is vulnerable or at risk.

The good news is that there are lots of precautions you can take if you are considering volunteering right now to make you as safe as possible; please see our advice on how to stay safe while volunteering.

Keep up to date with NHS advice, which is being updated regularly, on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Always read the current NHS advice before you consider volunteering and never volunteer if you or someone you live with have symptoms. Be sure to follow government advice on social distancing and keep at least 2 metres apart from the people you are helping and if you are volunteering in pairs.

Yes. You should be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance as long as you remain available for and are actively seeking work. Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance should all remain unaffected.

For more information about volunteering whilst claiming benefits, please visit the gov.uk website.

Most organisations pay reasonable ‘out of pocket’ expenses, these cover travelling costs and possibly lunch if you volunteer for a full day. Not all organisations are in a position to pay expenses so it is important to confirm this with the organisation before you commence your volunteer placement.

For more information about expenses, please visit the gov.uk website.

It depends on the kind of volunteering role you are doing. If your volunteering brings you into close contact with young people under 18 or vulnerable adults (older people or people with physical or mental disabilities) then you will require a DBS check. It is the responsibility of the organisation you are volunteering with to apply for a DBS check for you and they will let you know if it is required or not.

The service is free for volunteers.

DBS checks are used in the voluntary sector to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work that involves children or vulnerable adults.

No. Your existing CRB is still valid. If you ever go onto volunteer at a new organisation in a role that requires a DBS certificate, you will acquire a DBS certificate that will then be portable.

For full information about DBS checks please visit the gov.uk website.

We support volunteers from the point of initial interest, and help you find the right volunteer opportunity and placement, ensuring your experience is a positive one. We are an inclusive service and encourage people with all types of abilities to register.

Our team offers over 20 years experience in working in the voluntary sector and with volunteers in communities in London. We offer specialist skills enabling us to support volunteers, organisations, businesses and the public sector.

We are a member of NCVO and the Greater London Volunteering Network so align our practices with the industry standard and are up-to-date with new policy and legislation.