Volunteer Centre

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Volunteering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who can volunteer?

Anyone. Whilst having skills or experience is useful, the important point is to have interest and enthusiasm for becoming involved in your community. The Volunteer Centre is very experienced at matching people’s abilities and interests to suitable volunteering roles. If you have a disability, mental ill-health, a criminal record, or are under 18 we can still support you to find the perfect volunteering role.

Can I choose what I want to do?

Absolutely - everyone has different reason for wanting to volunteer as well as having different time commitments, passions, interests, and skills, so its important to us to find you exactly what you want to do. We have an extensive volunteering database where you can browse through available roles, or come and have a chat with one of our team to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Will I need to go for an interview?

This will depend on the organisation. Most organisations will want to meet a volunteer before asking them to start work but this will usually be for an informal chat rather than a formal interview. Some might ask for references from you but this will be explained before you start. If you are volunteering as part of a group, it is more likely that the organisation will arrange matters with a group leader only.

What will I gain from being a volunteer?

The list is endless! Volunteering can open doors to employment, can enable you to learn new skills, meet new people and get to know your community better, and give you a sense of achievement. There are hundreds of organisations across the community that depend on volunteers to make their activity possible so volunteers a vital lifeline to keep the community running. Whatever your reasons are for volunteering, you can be sure that once you find the perfect role, the list of benefits is endless. 

How much time is required?

This will vary with the role you take on and what your commitments are. Some people volunteer for several days a week, others prefer 'micro-volunteering' which involves just volunteering for an hour here and there. Some organisations and roles may require a minimum number of volunteering hours, but these will be detailed in the advert and will be discussed with you on an individual basis.

Is there an age limit?

Usually not. Most organisations welcome young volunteers and many of them have good arrangements for accepting young people whether individuals or in groups. There may be some limits on what tasks young people can do and they will be supervised by adults. A few volunteer posts, such as driving or using machinery, will only be open to adults. These age limits should be included in the role advert, but if you're under 18 and struggling to find a volunteering role then get in touch and we can support you to find a role. Upper age limit? Certainly not! Even if you aren't very active, there are volunteering opportunities that can be done from home!

Do I have to make a long-term commitment?

No. Whilst some volunteers stay with an organisation for many years, it is always recognised that your interests might change and you might want to move on from an organisation. Similarly, if your home or work circumstances change, you might have to stop volunteering. Organisations will welcome your contribution even if it is only for a short time.

What about short-term volunteering?

Many organisations arrange projects and volunteer days to complete certain tasks. You can join these without committing to long-term volunteering. Also, there are many functions, festivals, shows and events in the community that need volunteers for just a few days or weeks. For volunteers of any age there might be working holidays during which you can volunteer to give your time and expertise.

Will volunteering help me get a job?

Volunteering looks great on a CV. Not only can you show the practical skills you have developed in your role, but volunteering also shows employers that you have tranferable skills such as good time keeping, reliability, communication, and team work. These are all vital skills and are needed for any job. On occasion, you volunteering role can lead to paid employment within that organisation, but this is never guaranteed.

Will I be paid expenses for my volunteering?

If you are giving your time and expertise free, you should not have to make a financial commitment. We encourage organisations to cover their volunteers’ out of pocket expenses such as travel. The organisation should also provide tools, PPE, and training wherever needed.

I don’t want an active task. Can I still help?

Definitely. There is a huge variety of volunteering roles, and for some you dont even need to leave your house! Volunteering can take many forms, so although some are active such as helping at sports clubs or doing conservation work, volunteering can also include administration, phone befriending, editing community magazines, or doing social media for an organisation.

Will volunteering affect my benefits?

No. The government recognises the value of volunteering both for the community and for the person volunteering. If you are on benefits you can continue to volunteer so long as you are available to attend an interview for employment should one come up. The Job Centre or Citizens Advice can advise you if you are in any doubt.

Do I need to have police or criminal records checks?

If volunteers are going to work with children or vulnerable adults, the organisation might ask you to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The information you give will be confidential. Even if you have a criminal record it might not necessarily prevent you being a volunteer. Volunteering is about including - not excluding - people. If a DBS check is needed you will not have to pay for it if you are a volunteer.


Volunteer Centre Dorset are thankful for the support from:

Dorset County Council
National Lottery Fund