Volunteer Placements Guide
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Volunteer Expectations 2
Top tips to get started 3
Volunteer commitment 3
Awards, certificates and references 4
Health and Safety 5
Equal opportunities 6
Grievance and complaints 6
Data protection 7
The University of West London Volunteering gives students the chance to get involved in volunteer
opportunities through local charitable organisations. We are committed to ensuring students
involved have a positive volunteering experience and therefore underlying all the activities students
can take part in are a set of policies and procedures which hopefully give you a sense of what we
expect of you, but also what you can expect from us.
If you have any questions about volunteering please contact the volunteering team
Who can volunteer?
Any student and graduate can volunteer through the University of West London up to three years
after graduation. If you are an international student there are restrictions for those whose passport
sticker or identity card says "No work" or "Work prohibited”. This tends to be a very limited amount
of people. If you are unsure whether you can volunteer please speak to
Chackervarti.Afghan@uwl.ac.uk student advisor at the One Stop Shop. If you are under the age of
16 you will need the consent of a parent or guardian to volunteer.
How do I get a volunteer placement?
To apply for any of the volunteer placements or to receive the weekly newsletter you must register
as a volunteer. Click here to download a registration form and here to download a monitoring form
and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive updates via your email of when new volunteer
placements are available. Placements will also be available to view online.
In order to apply for the volunteer position you must email email@example.com indicating which
placement you are interested in. The v team will then email you the application form/ contact
details to apply for the position. You must be registered as a volunteer before this happens.
Please be aware that not all placements happen instantly, if for example you want to work with
children or vulnerable adults, organisations often wish to process a Criminal Records Check on
you to assess your suitability, this could take anything from 4 – 8 weeks or longer. (Please see the
Health and Safety information for more detail). You are advised to plan in advance as much as
possible to avoid disappointment.
What if the placement I want to do is not advertised?
If there is a certain area you wish to work in and we do not have a placement advertised please
email firstname.lastname@example.org indicating what type of placement you are looking for. We will
endeavor to help you secure a volunteering placement that suits you.
Understandably, as a volunteer, there are going to be certain things that you will be expecting and
it is important that you let us know if things aren't going as well as you'd expected them to. In turn,
we also have high expectations of our volunteers. Please ✓ to confirm you have read and
understood the expectations
What we expect of YOU
To inform us when you have a volunteer placement with an organisation
To check through the volunteering top tips below to ensure you are prepared for your placement
To inform us if you have now or in the future any health issues that could affect your volunteering
( this includes pregnancy)
To be reliable and committed to your project
To respect other people, their values and beliefs and to respect confidentiality
To report any concerns you have over the health and safety of any children or vulnerable adults
To tell someone immediately if you are having any problems /complaint with your volunteering
To balance your volunteering and your studies so you don’t over-commit to your volunteering
To feedback on your experience at the end of the year, let us know how we can improve our work
What YOU can expect
To be provided with a volunteer role description, to know exactly what is asked and expected of
To learn and develop new skills
To have on-going support from the University of West London Volunteer Coordinator
To have peer to peer support through the Facebook Group University of West London Volunteer
To be eligible for volunteer awards through University of West London Volunteering
To receive a certificate of volunteering through University of West London
To be eligible for a reference (at the discretion of the host organisation, or University of West
To receive on-going training (at the discretion of the host organisation)
To receive out of pocket expenses from your host organisation (at the discretion of the host
To have a named member of staff from the host organisation who supports you
To be safe whilst volunteering
To be respected and treated in the context of welcoming diversity
To gain from and enjoy the experience be valued, appreciated and recognised
To be free to leave the opportunity at any time. (Please provide sufficient notice where possible)
Top tips to get started
The following is a list of suggested questions for you to find out some details on your volunteering
placement. This can be used as a worksheet to ensure you are prepared for your placement,
please tick when you have found out the answers.
What to find out before commencing volunteering
What will my role be? Please can I have a copy of the role description?
What are the organisations aims and objectives?
What length of commitment is required?
When am I required, i.e. day / time each week?
What is expected of me?
Will I get support/ training to carry out this role, if so what?
Will I receive out of pocket expenses i.e. travel to and from the placement?
What health and safety issues affect this work?
What do I want to achieve through the volunteering? Will this role achieve this?
Areas that should be covered in induction or when commencing
Who do I report to if I have any problems?
What activities can I get involved in?
What are the Child Protection Policies (if you are working with children/vulnerable adults)?
What relevant policies/procedures do I need to be aware of? i.e. confidentiality, complaints etc.
What is the accident reporting procedure?
What is the procedure for reporting absence planned or otherwise?
What is covered on the risk assessments? (you should be given a copy of the risk assessment)
Where are the Fire Exits?
Who is the First Aider?
Who are the other volunteers and staff?
Are there any office rules I should be aware of?
As you can fully appreciate, volunteering is beneficial not only for yourself but for the clients or
beneficiaries you work with.
Therefore it is imperative that once you make a commitment you abide by it. If you consistently fail
to attend your placement or project, many people will be disappointed. If you are unable to attend
please give your host organisation as much notice as possible.
Please think very carefully about the level of responsibility you are willing to take on. However,
please remember that no matter how involved you become, you are a student first and a volunteer
second. Volunteering is a brilliant way to spend your free time but is not worth jeopardising your
degree for. Do as little or as much as you can. Every moment spent will be appreciated and is
guaranteed to make a difference.
You should ask your host organisation what the procedure is for reporting past and future, planned
or otherwise absence during your volunteering .i.e. during the Christmas holidays, exam period etc.
This helps organisations manage their service more effectively
Awards, Certificates and References
Whether you have volunteered through the University Volunteering or independently you will be
invited to the University of West London Volunteer Awards in 2012, celebrating your contribution to
the local community. There will be numerous awards that you, your friends, or your volunteer
organisation can nominate you for, including the nationally recognised Gold Awards.
Volunteering England’s Gold Award is the only national student volunteering award that recognises
Achievement, Dedication and Leadership within Further and Higher Education. The Gold Award is
a prestigious mark of excellence in student volunteering. The Gold Awards will be awarded at The
University of West London Volunteer Awards Ceremony; students will be notified nearer the time
with regard to the nomination process. For more information please go to;
If you’re new to volunteering, then the Vfifty is a great place to start. It’s a flexible award, allowing
you to volunteer in a range of different projects throughout the year to work your way towards
your fifty hour volunteering goal. It might seem like a long time, but if you’re doing something you’re
passionate about, as well as building your skills and making a difference, it can go pretty fast! The
Vfifty Award is a great way to start thinking about the skills you’re developing, helping you to
enhance your CV, prepare for interviews, and highlight your skills and talents. So, what are you
waiting for?! If you’re already an active volunteer, then sign up now:
Every student who informs the University of West London that they are volunteering will be eligible
to receive a certificate at the end of the year on the proviso that the host organisation confirms their
If you have volunteered on over five One Day Challenges, you have volunteered regularly through
the Volunteer Placements or you are a member of The V Team Committee, you will be able to gain
a reference from the Volunteer Coordinator for your future job applications. This is vital, especially
if you haven't worked before. If a student wishes to gain a reference before the end of their
placement they are advised to go to the organisation directly.
Health and Safety
Health and safety is something that the University take very seriously and do all we can to ensure
students are safe in the activities they engage in. However, there are some things you need to be
aware of when you are volunteering with an external organisation.
If you are volunteering with an external organisation, you are primarily engaging in your
volunteering as a member of the public, not a University of West London student, and therefore the
responsibility for your health and safety rests with them. It is therefore strongly recommended that
you speak to the contact person there to see what health and safety issues affect the volunteering
and if there is anything you need to be aware of, or training available for volunteers. This will mean
that you will have a greater awareness of the necessary precautions you should be taking, if
The organisation or project you will be volunteering with will have assessed the risks involved in its
activities and will have ensured the risks have been minimised through appropriate control
This is called a Risk Assessment and we recommend you ask to see the one done which covers
the volunteering you are doing.
Working with young children
If the placement you wish to work on is working with young children, or vulnerable adults, it is quite
likely that the organisation will do a Criminal Records Bureau Check on you to assess your
suitability. Please note that a criminal conviction does not automatically exclude you from taking
part in any activities, it is just important that organisations are made aware of any such convictions
so that they can assess the suitability of your involvement with a project in the light of any
disclosure. If you have any queries about this please speak to the University of West London
We all have a duty of care to other people, and we are all responsible for our own and other
people’s safety, no matter what role we have in an organisation. So, if you see something that you
are concerned about which could affect somebody’s health or safety tell somebody about it, tell a
member of staff so action can be taken. Don’t simply think it is somebody else’s responsibility.
Drivers using their own vehicles should inform their insurers of their voluntary activities. To avoid
confusion with commercial use of the vehicle, they should make it clear that they will receive out-
of-pocket expenses only. Volunteer drivers should not accept an increase in premium, and may
wish to change insurer if their current one insists on an extra charge. It is good practice for
organisations to reimburse out of pocket expenses for travel to and from your volunteering.
However this is at their discretion and you are encouraged to enquire about this before your
All volunteers are asked to maintain a high level of confidentiality with regard to any information
they may come into contact with during their volunteering.
During your volunteering you may develop good working relationships with the clients you work
with. There needs to be a level of trust for this to happen, which will naturally occur. This can lead
to confidential information being discussed, the treatment of which needs to be understood.
Any confidential information regarding individual people within your volunteering opportunity must
not be relayed to other persons. This includes other volunteers or people you come into contact
with, inside or outside the volunteering opportunity. Unless you believe a child or vulnerable adult
to be at risk, in which case you should speak to your contact person at the organisation or the
Volunteer Coordinator at the University.
Equal Opportunities Policy
The University of West London strives for students to carry out their voluntary activities in a safe,
unprejudiced, discriminatory free atmosphere. All students, therefore, regardless of race, sex,
religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability will have access to the full range of
To challenge discrimination through volunteering it will be made clear to all students, staff
members, clients and management alike that this behaviour will not be tolerated. The University of
West London aims for an equality of opportunity to be achieved through volunteering.
Resolving Difficulties Procedure
The University of West London aims to treat all students taking part in volunteering fairly. However,
if a situation does occur where a student feels they have been treated unfairly, you should be able
to raise it. Please contact your host organisation representative and / or University of West London
Volunteering Coordinator if you have a complaint. If you feel the response is not satisfactory
please follow the University of West London Student’s Complaints Procedure, details can be found
on the website.
The details held on the Registration Form will be used in accordance with the Data Protection Act
1998 and will only be used for the purposes of setting up, monitoring and evaluating volunteering
organised through the University of West London Volunteering. The data provided will only be
forwarded to third party organisations with whom the volunteer is to undertake or propose to
undertake volunteering work.
Volunteers may wish to be removed from the mailing list at any time. If a student asks to be
removed from the mailing list, or a student has been a graduate for more than three years, they will
be classed as inactive but the data will be kept for 2 years more in case the information is needed
(i.e. for the provision of references or reference material). After this time period the personal data
will be removed from the database.
The University of West London believe that students should be given out of pocket expenses for
their volunteer work. Organisations are encouraged to provide this for students who volunteer with
them. We are not able to provide expenses for those students who do not receive expenses from
their host organisations.