Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and can take many forms. Time is given freely and without expectation of financial gain.
In Falkirk there is a huge variety of volunteering opportunities; from befriending to driving, to planting trees to helping at a day centre or hospital. The right opportunity perhaps from home or with friends new and old, is out there for you! Visit the opportunities section of our website to find out what you get involved in.
More people than you might think! Some recent research has shown us that 32% of all adults in Scotland volunteer (around 1.3million people).
It doesn’t matter where you live, what your interests are, whether you’ve an hour or five to spare, young or old, there are volunteering opportunities out there for you.
Volunteering shouldn’t be a burden to anybody – there are opportunities which require from as little as 1 hour a month up to those that require a few days a week. A lot of opportunities are flexible – our volunteering team can help you to find something to suit you.
Every organisation which involves volunteers is different but by the time it comes to volunteering, the organisation you are volunteering with will have taken the time to make sure you know what’s expected to you. General points to consider are:
- Being committed
- Being reliable
- Asking questions if you are not sure about something
- Adhering to specific policies and procedures e.g. confidentiality or health and safety etc.
Obviously to be a volunteer driver you need to have a driving license; however, for the vast majority of opportunities you don’t need to have any specialist qualifications, usually you only need to be interested in the role. Each opportunity is different though and if you do have specialist skills we can help you to put those to good use.
As a volunteer you’ll feel good about making a difference to your local community. You’ll also gain personal benefits and enrich your own life. For example you could:
- Discover strengths and talents
- Develop skills
- Improve your social awareness
- Learn through service
- Enjoy better health
- Move into employment or a new career
- Meet new people
- Have fun!
Yes, but you should always speak to your Personal Adviser before you start volunteering. You can volunteer as many hours as you want as long as you still meet the conditions to get your benefit or tax credit.
You will be required to provide evidence of your volunteering: this might include completion of a DWP form (reference VOLW1). This is the case for any volunteering you are doing (whether it is in your own time, or as activity you have agreed to do as part of your work search requirement) and for any type of benefit. If you stop volunteering or your hours change, you must let your benefits office know about any changes in your circumstances.
Provided the organisation is able to pay out of pocket expenses, you can get back any expenses you incur as a direct result of volunteering. These may include travel expenses or lunch expenses. Your benefits will not be affected by getting expenses for volunteering. You may need to declare your expenses, which is why it is important to speak to your Personal Adviser before you start to volunteer.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have released guidance on volunteering while receiving benefits.
As a volunteer you should ideally never be out of pocket for your volunteering and 80% of organisations now pay expenses to their volunteers. Our volunteering team will be able to tell you which opportunities are able to pay expense and which, unfortunately are just unable to.
This depends on the role you want to get involved in. Often the first step is to meet with the organisation for an informal chat, so you can find out more about them and they can find out more about you. For some opportunities, those involving more vulnerable people or children, you may also have to complete a registration form and perhaps even attend a more formal interview.
Again depending on the opportunity you may need to have a Disclosure Check or PVG membership if you are going to be volunteering with vulnerable adults or children. The check can take some time to be processed, the reasonable timescale is about three weeks but it can take even longer, as well as being processed more quickly.
Another factor in how long it takes to get started is whether or not you will undergo training as a volunteer. Some opportunities require volunteers to do some initial training to help prepare you for the role but this can also take some time.
So how long it takes to get started can vary. With some projects you can start quickly and some can take longer it very much depends on the role.
You don’t always need to provide a reference – it very much depends on the role. Those opportunities which do require a reference often are looking for a personal or character reference rather than a reference from an employer. These are often people who have known you for at least a couple of years (though the time varies) who are not related to you. Some common examples are, friends, neighbours or friends of the family.
Usually YES! Volunteering is a great way to get an up-to-date reference from someone who isn’t a friend and can be very useful if you are using volunteering as a way of getting yourself some work experience or exploring a new career.
Some of our volunteers have told us:
It’s very enjoyable and interesting.
Volunteering has been a really positive experience.
It’s made me feel very worthwhile and got me back into the community.
I go for two hours on a Monday night and I feel good for the rest of the week.
Volunteering has been very, very good to me.
I enjoy it so much.
Becoming a volunteer isn’t too difficult. Some organisations have lengthy recruitment and induction procedures but this is to ensure that you’re fully prepared for volunteering with them and looks after the safety of the volunteer, the organisation and other people. Other projects just ask you to turn up and have a go.
The first step is to contact our volunteering team and we can arrange to have a chat and find the best way for you to become a volunteer:
- By phone: 01324 692000
- By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org