How to prepare for volunteering

Last updated: 3 February, 2022

Volunteering is giving your time freely and willingly to help others. If you’ve never volunteered before it’s good to know what questions to ask and things to think about before you start. 

Being prepared to volunteer means you can: 

  • help the group you’re supporting achieve their aims 

  • protect yourself  

  • protect the people you might be supporting 

Before you volunteer 

Ideas to prepare you for your volunteering experience. 

Learn more about the group you want to support

If you’ve found a group you feel passionate about, look at their website or social media to understand more about their mission and ethos.  

If you can, chat to a current volunteer to find out about the role from their perspective. 

Ask the organiser about the volunteering opportunity

If you’re not sure what you need to know, here are a few questions you could ask the organiser: 

  • Is this a long- or short-term opportunity? 

  • How flexible is the opportunity? Can I work it around my life? 

  • What do I need to bring and wear? 

  • What will you provide when I volunteer? For example, do I need to bring my own drinks? 

  • Do I need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or similar? Will you help me get one? 

  • Will the group cover any expenses? 

Think about the tasks you want to get involved in

Ask yourself what you would be happiest doing. Are there tasks that would enhance your CV? Do you want to learn new skills and step out of your comfort zone?  

Work out how much time you can give

Have an idea about the number of hours you can spare to volunteer. Groups will be glad of your help, however much time you can give. 

If you're supporting people 

When you’re volunteering with a group who supports children, young adults or vulnerable people, there are some things you need to be aware of. 

Think about data protection

During your volunteering you may see personal information about people.  

This might be:  

  • addresses  

  • family details  

  • medical information  

If you do see information like this, do not share it with anyone.  

You must:  

  • treat personal information as you would want yours to be treated  

  • report any possible breach of data protection to the organisation or group you’re volunteering for  

You must not:  

  • share details you come across with anyone  

  • leave messages that contain personal information if you do not know who may hear them  

Withhold your phone number if you need to call

If you volunteer with people and need to call someone, we recommend you withhold your number.  

To do so, dial 141 before the number you want to call.  

Treat everyone equally

You’ll be supporting a wide range of people.  

Everyone is different and it's important to treat people with respect.  

You must:  

  • treat others how you would want to be treated  

  • respect people, whatever their background or beliefs  

You must not:  

  • exclude or treat people differently because of their background or beliefs  

  • ignore any unacceptable behaviour towards others – report this to the group you are volunteering for  

Report any safeguarding issues

You may come across people at risk of harm or abuse during your volunteering.  

You must:  

  • report any abuse you become aware of, or suspicious of  

You must not:  

  • promise confidentiality if someone informs you of abuse  

If you want to help groups in your area, search for opportunities and volunteer

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