Introduction

male_helperThe Voluntary Services Lewisham is a local independent charity that was founded to cover the Forest Hill and Sydenham area.

  • We aim to provide voluntary assistance to all sections of the community represented in our geographical area. These include the elderly, unemployed, single parents and their families, single vulnerable people, the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees and people with disabilities.
  • To take referrals from statutory and voluntary organisations, churches and self-referrals that meet the Voluntary Services Lewisham criteria.
  • To recruit, train, support and appropriately place volunteers, according to Voluntary Services Lewisham policies and procedures.
  • To liaise and work with statutory and other voluntary organisations to identify the needs in our area, and to consider with other bodies how these needs might best be met, and, to make proposals where appropriate for meeting them.
  • To assemble and co-ordinate information and statistics about the needs of people living in the area – through records of activities.

In line with our aims and objectives, the Voluntary Services Lewisham seeks to involve volunteers to:

  • Ensure that our service meets the needs of our users.
  • Provide new skills and perspectives.
  • Increase our contact with the local community that we serve.
  • To enhance/complement the work of the Centre.
  • To enable the Centre to provide an efficient, cost effective service.

The Voluntary Services Lewisham recognises the valuable contribution, which volunteers make to enhance our ability to deliver quality cost effective services.
Volunteers can bring new skills, knowledge and enthusiasm, adding a refreshing perspective to the centre’s work. The Voluntary Services Lewisham seeks to continue developing good practices in volunteering in accordance with the following principles.

Principles

This volunteering policy is underpinned by the following principles:

  • The Voluntary Services Lewisham will ensure that volunteers will be properly integrated into the organisations structure and that mechanisms are in place to enable volunteers to contribute to the Voluntary Services Lewisham’s work.
  • The Voluntary Services Lewisham does not aim to introduce volunteers to replace paid staff.
  • The Voluntary Services Lewisham expects that staff at all levels will work positively with volunteers, and where appropriate, will actively seek to involve them in their work.
  • The Voluntary Services Lewisham recognises that volunteers require satisfying work and personal development, and will seek to help volunteers meet these needs, as well as providing the training to enable them to do their work effectively.
  • The Voluntary Services Lewisham will provide support for all volunteers and to continue to develop mechanisms that enable us to do so, and keep up to date on good practices in this field.

Practice Guidelines

trainingThe following guidelines deal with practical aspects of the involvement of volunteers. More detailed information, including copies of various documents referred to, is provided in the Volunteers Handbook.

Recruitment

All prospective volunteers will be interviewed by a volunteer coordinator to find out what they would like to do, their skills, suitability, and how their potential might best be realised.

We take up two references for all volunteers and operate a six-week probationary period once two satisfactory references have been received. After this period there is a second appointment /assessment. If mutual suitability is agreed at this time volunteers’ will be issued with a Volunteer Identity Badge and given full volunteer status.

We carry out police checks on volunteers working with children and as statutory law requires.

Volunteer Task Descriptions and Work Assignments

The Voluntary Services Lewisham provides task descriptions for all volunteers (including volunteers on placements out in the community i.e. befriending, gardening etc).

Office volunteers will have a volunteer agreement establishing what the Voluntary Services Lewisham undertakes to provide them. This agreement will be flexible enough to account for the individuals’ needs and requirements but will include core elements such as task description and arrangements for supervision. Volunteers will receive a copy of the Volunteers’ Handbook, which includes all Voluntary Services Lewisham policies.

Volunteers’ Expenses

All volunteers are entitled to receive travel expenses to and from the Voluntary Services Lewisham and cost of travel undertaken in the course of volunteering. Volunteers working a minimum of 4 hours per day will be able to claim a lunch allowance. Telephone calls from the volunteer’s home, made on behalf of the Voluntary Services Lewisham and any postage will also be reimbursed given that a clear record of calls/post is provided and that authority has been sought before incurring expenses. Expenses are claimed from the Admin. Worker, on the relevant form, a sample copy is included in the Volunteers’ Handbook. The Admin. Worker will keep volunteers’ informed of the current rates of payment.

Induction and Training

Volunteers’ will receive an initial induction session into the Voluntary Services Lewisham and their own area of work. Training will be provided as appropriate, wherever possible volunteers will receive additional training on the same basis as paid staff.

Volunteer Support

The volunteer coordinators are the volunteers’ main point of contact they will provide regular supervision to feed back on progress, discuss future developments and air any problems/difficulties. The volunteer coordinators will organise group support meetings and occasional social events. The Voluntary Services Lewisham produces a quarterly Volunteers’ Newsletter volunteers’ have access to an independent and confidential counselling line.

Volunteers’ Voice

Volunteers’ are encouraged to express their views about matters concerning the Voluntary Services Lewisham and it’s work. Volunteers’ are encouraged to write articles for the newsletter and are involved in the production and editing. Feedback from support meetings is used for the advancement/development of our volunteer involvement within the Centre and the development of policies and procedures. Volunteers’ are represented on the Voluntary Services Lewisham’s Management Committee.

Insurance

All volunteers’ are covered by the Voluntary Services Lewisham’s insurance policy whilst they are on the premises or engaged in any work on the Voluntary Services Lewisham’s behalf. Volunteer drivers’ need to inform their insurance company that they are using their vehicle for voluntary work, there is normally no extra cost involved. Should you have any difficulty with your car insurance, speak to a volunteer coordinator who will be willing to negotiate on your behalf (more details can be found in the Volunteers Handbook).

Health and Safety

volunteer_group_4Volunteers’ are covered by the Voluntary Services Lewisham’s Health and Safety policy, a copy of which is in the Volunteers’ Handbook.

Equal Opportunities

The Voluntary Services Lewisham operates an equal opportunities policy in respect of both paid staff and volunteers. A copy is in the Volunteers Handbook. Volunteers will be expected to have an understanding of and a commitment to our equal opportunities policy.

Complaints Procedure

Whilst we hope that volunteers working for the Voluntary Centre will have a positive and fulfilling experience, we do recognise that sometimes problems/difficulties may arise. Volunteers have the right to make complaints or criticisms on matters, which cause them concern in the course of their voluntary work. A copy of the procedure for complaints is included in the Volunteers Handbook.

Confidentiality

Volunteers are bound by the same requirements for confidentiality as paid staff.
All volunteers are given a confidentiality statement that they must read, and agree to uphold before signing.

This policy will be reviewed annually.
This edition was printed in February 2003.