This may depend on several factors. Some organisations may be able to let you start straight away. However, if you are required to be interviewed, provide detailed references, get a DBS check and to go through an introductory training course, it may be weeks or even months before you can start. Some organisations only recruit at certain times of the year.

Many people see volunteering as an effective way of preparing them for a paid job. Volunteering can provide new and improved skills, experience and personal benefits, such as increased confidence, which can assist a person to obtain a paid job. If you are looking to get a paid job through volunteering it may help you to work out what skills and experience you would like to get from your volunteering. When you approach your chosen organisation, it’s a good idea to let them know what skills you are looking to develop and what experience you are looking for as you want to make sure they are able to offer you what you want and to get the most out of your time spent volunteering.

It really depends on the volunteering role. Some organisations ask that you commit to volunteering for a specific period of time, such as six months or a year. This usually applies to organisations that will be investing considerable resources in training you to carry out a particular role or for specific volunteering roles such as befriending, buddying and mentoring where you build a relationship with a client over a period of time. Although most organisations will not set any minimum commitment, it is a good idea that you keep them informed about how long you will be available.

There is no standard volunteer commitment in terms of hours per week or month. Some organisations like a weekly commitment, others are happy to accommodate short-term volunteering. Some volunteer roles require set time commitments, such as shift work on volunteer helplines, where the time commitment required is very clear, e.g. three hours per shift. Other roles are flexible and can be organised around the availability of the volunteers concerned. Just keep in mind that once you agree a commitment with your organisation, make sure you keep your supervisor informed if you need to change your volunteering hours or days. The more advanced notice you give them, the better.

In most cases, the answer is no. Some very skilled work may require qualifications, but usually organisations will offer training to enable you to do the work. Most volunteering roles are designed to offer people the opportunity to perform a variety of tasks and learn new skills.

People are allowed to volunteer while claiming state benefits, including means-tested benefits such as universal credit, jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), incapacity benefit, income support, and employment and support allowance (ESA).

You can volunteer as many hours as you like while you’re getting benefits as long as you keep to the rules for getting them. For more details, including the most recent ‘rules’ around volunteering and benefits, check out NCVO: Volunteering and Benefits.

Although volunteering is unpaid work, Volunteer Centre Camden believes that no volunteer should be out-of-pocket due to involvement in volunteering. Most volunteer-involving organisations will reimburse all expenses that volunteers incur when carrying out volunteer duties and that have been agreed by their supervisor. This typically includes things like the cost of travelling to and from your volunteering and meals eaten whilst volunteering. As most voluntary organisations run on very limited resources, many find it necessary to set limits on the type and level of expenses that will be reimbursed. Be aware that there are a few organisations that are unable to offer expenses; this is generally due to lack of funding. It is therefore a good idea to ask an organisation their expenses policy before you start your volunteering.

Most organisations will require a certain level of background information about you before they take you on as a volunteer and this often means they will ask you for a reference, or two. In general all you need to do is supply a name of a person (or persons) who would be willing to state your suitability for voluntary work. Usually this should be a person who has known you for quite a while or someone who has known you in a certain capacity (such as a previous volunteering coordinator or perhaps your tutor at college). It is a good idea to first ask your referees if they would be willing to give you a reference and when you do give their name, let them know you’ve done so. If you don’t have someone who can give you a reference, talk to the organisation about this and they may be able to help you.

If what you are looking for is not available, please let us know. Volunteer Centre Camden is committed to matching volunteers to volunteering opportunities that they want, and that includes creating new opportunities where they don’t already exist. This may take a while, but we will keep you updated throughout the process. Keep in mind, there will be some activities that are not volunteering opportunities, but we will try to find you something as close to what you are looking for and with transferable skills similar to what you were looking for.

Want to share a skill through volunteering? Simply add it to Comoodle Camden (the new sharing platform which enables sharing of Stuff, Space and Skills for community benefit).

If what you are looking for is not available, please let us know. Volunteer Centre Camden is committed to matching volunteers to volunteering opportunities that they want, and that includes creating new opportunities where they don’t already exist. This may take a while, but we will keep you updated throughout the process. Keep in mind, there will be some activities that are not volunteering opportunities, but we will try to find you something as close to what you are looking for and with transferable skills similar to what you were looking for.

Want to share a skill through volunteering? Simply add it to Comoodle Camden (the new sharing platform which enables sharing of Stuff, Space and Skills for community benefit).

Most organisations do not have the budget to cover childcare expenses for their volunteers, however help with childcare costs may be available to you. You can find loads more information on this website: www.payingforchildcare.org.uk

Still have questions about volunteering? Let us know by phone on 020 7424 9990 or email us and we will point you in the right direction.

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