Step 1: Remember, it’s your choice
Give some thought to what you might be able to give to others and what you might get out of volunteering yourself.
• Choose something you like doing, or you want to learn to do. Volunteering is a choice.
• Choose to give time to with people, an issue, or organisation that you care about or are interested in.
• Decide how much time you can afford each week – it’s better to start low maybe 3 hours a week and build it up if you want more. Still not sure?
Talk to friends about it. What are you good at? What do you want to do with your time? Talk to someone who volunteers already – what do they do? Does it appeal to you? Do they know any other volunteers? Come along to our Introduction to Volunteering Workshop and find out more without any pressure.
Step 2: Finding a volunteer opportunity
Volunteer Centre Lewisham holds the details of many local volunteer opportunities. We currently offer a couple of ways to help you find one in your area, at a time that suits you:
• Book an appointment for a one to one session with an advisor
• To search for roles online, please browse opportunities and register.
Please phone us on 020 8613 7113 if you would like to discuss this further or make an appointment.
Volunteer Centre Lewisham does not select or interview volunteers, or check up on you. We provide an information and support service. All appointments are informal and are a chance for you to get a better idea about what voluntary work is available locally. Please note that all information provided to Volunteer Centre Lewisham is kept confidential.
We give you the volunteer opportunity details that you want, for you to then follow up yourself. We would advise you to ring the organisation to arrange an appointment and to ensure they are still looking for volunteers. If you do not get an answer please do leave a message.
If you do not hear back from the organisation within 10 days please let us know and we will help you.
If you have specific skills that you want to use e.g. marketing, DJing, photography etc. then give us a short profile about yourself and we can put you on our skilled volunteers section for organisations to search.
Step 3: Applying to become a Volunteer
Most organisations will ask you to complete an application form. It will ask you for information such as your contact details, what you want to do, how long for, etc. Depending on what you want to do, you may also be asked to:
• Provide references – usually the names of people who can comment about your suitability for voluntary work.
• Disclose any criminal records. This only occurs if you will be working with children or vulnerable people and, even then, only under certain circumstances. Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from working with children or other groups. It is always advisable to be honest about any criminal convictions or cautions that you may have.
• Show your driving license (if you want to be a driver).
Most organisations will want to have an informal chat. This is for them to find out about you and you to find out about them – ask any questions you need answering. Some organisations will ask you to attend a more detailed interview, so they can place you where your skills, experience or knowledge can be put to best use.
Volunteers need to be trained for some roles, to make sure that the services are kept to a high standard. You may be asked to attend a training course – it could be for one afternoon, or a series of evenings. Don’t be put off by the word ‘training’ – it is usually fun, you’ll meet other volunteers and hopefully learn a lot.
Step 4: You’re ready to start
You’ve chosen what you want to do and you have:
• found a suitable organisation
• applied, been interviewed and accepted
• been on a training course
You should expect (as a basic minimum)
• a clear role description
• a contact person if you have any problems
• travel and out of pocket expenses
• insurance cover for the work you are doing
• contact with other staff and volunteers
• recognition and thanks
Finally, it’s worth remembering…
• Volunteering should be fun and a challenge
• Hopefully you’ll get a lot out of it
• Build on existing skills and develop new ones
• Have a good time
• Meet new people