Outreach Volunteering

Outreach recognises that people choose to volunteer for a whole host of reasons; and that no two volunteers are ever the same.

As an Outreach volunteer, you may be someone who has lived and/or living experience, in respect of a particular cause, or section of the community.              

Or perhaps, you may wish to volunteer as a direct result of your experience in being a carer. I.e in caring for someone with learning difficulties, and/or mental health concerns.

If you are an academic student; it may be that volunteering provides an ideal opportunity to get that all essential real life/real time experience, awareness, knowledge and skills; that potential employers are always looking for. E.g. In respect of securing future paid employment in relation to your chosen career pathway.

Equally, you may see volunteering as an opportunity in being involved and empowered as part of the wider community and/or in giving something back within it.

Whatever your reason for volunteering with Outreach; and in changing someones life.

You can be, 

“The difference, that makes the difference” 

We look forward to you joining us as an Outreach volunteer; and in hearing from you very soon.

Volunteering frequently asked questions?

FAQ’s will be added as an on-going process

In this section of your Outreach volunteer handbook, is a quick frequently asked questions reference guide.

Answers to FAQ’s are in the main sourced from, and/or are akin to Outreach volunteer specific policies and procedures; such as The Outreach Volunteering policy; and/or generic Outreach staffing and wider governance policies.

Whilst, the FAQ’s section of this handbook, may answer; or go some way in answering your questions. Outreach policies and procedures should also be read and understood in gaining full awareness, and appreciation of Outreach and Outreach volunteering.

If however you have further questions, please do feel free to ask the Volunteer Programme Manager in the first instance.

Remember, there are no silly questions, and the Outreach team will always do their best to answer or get you the answers to your questions.

Q: What expenses can I claim?

A: At Outreach, where appropriate volunteer expenses largely mirror those of paid Outreach staff. The premise being that for example, fuel, bus fares are the same for everyone.

To this end, volunteer expenses are 45p per mile if you travel in your own car, (distance from your home to your main volunteering base) I.e., the Outreach Hub, and will be measured on AA route-finder. Bus/train travel will be reimbursed on production of valid tickets, as will parking charges.

As a volunteer, you can also claim up to £3.00 for lunch if you volunteer for more than 4 hours, and it covers a lunch or tea time period, again only on production of receipts. 

NB If your lunch costs more than £3.00; only up to £3.00 can be claimed.

Volunteers should claim expenses on a monthly basis using the appropriate Outreach volunteer expenses pro formas; and which can be sourced at the Hub.

Expense claims are usually paid directly into your bank account. However; Outreach acknowledge that not all volunteers will have access to a bank account, or able to get one.

In being inclusive, if you cannot or do not want to use this method of payment, or wish to be reimbursed more frequently, this can be arranged. However, this would be in respect of small amounts of cash typically under £10

NB: For reasons of safety and security, Outreach do not carry significant amounts of cash.

Q: Can I change my usual volunteering day/s/hour/s?

A: If you need to change your usual volunteering day/s/hour/s once you have become an Outreach volunteer, and having agreed regular volunteering pattern. Then within houses, this has to be done in collaboration with the person you are shadowing, and the senior.

If you volunteer at the Hub, any changes should be made through the Hub manager.

Please note: Whilst Outreach will be as accommodating as possible, I.e a volunteer may have exams to attend, and in the short term this can be facilitated. It may also be the case that changes may not be possible at that given time. As such, this may impact on your ability to volunteer within Outreach, and advice should be sort from the volunteer programme manager at the earliest opportunity.

NB Outreach’s primary role and function is to ensure the ongoing support of service users.

Q: Can I be asked to volunteer on a day I haven’t agreed to?

A: Yes, you can be asked.

However, there is NEVER any obligation to agree to volunteer on a day/s and/or hour/s beyond those that you and Outreach have mutually have agreed to in supporting our service users. However, despite you having regular day/s/hour/s in volunteering for Outreach; occasionally due to the nature of the volunteering undertaken, a keyworker you are shadowing for example; may find that they have to go somewhere with a service user and they may contact you to ask if you will accompany them.

Similarly, the volunteer project manager may ask if you wish to volunteer in a different area of opportunity based upon your skills, knowledge etc.

Again, you can be asked; but it is always your choice to do so. Of course, it should be said that additional volunteering opportunities may provide further avenues to you in respect of your wider volunteering experiencing, knowledge and skills set at Outreach.  

Q: What if I don’t get along with the primary support worker I have been assigned to shadow?

A: Unfortunately, there are a limited number of support workers, and there are no guarantees people will always “connect”.

We do however, try to match shadow volunteers with support workers and/or other staff that they are shadowing, that they are likely to get along with.

However, this “matching” is not an exact science; and the honest reality is that as with all environments, there are people you will get along with more than others.

To this end, where there is not a good match, we will always seek to problem solve through reflective practice in the first instance. 

If, however, all avenues have been exhausted, i.e through conversation, mediation, intervention, training etc; and you simply don’t connect.

Then provided that no relevant policy and/or procedure has been breached. I.e Equal opportunities, discrimination etc. This being allied to Outreach’s person-centred non-judgemental ethos. Then where possible and appropriate we will aim to find an alternative support worker to shadow at the earliest opportunity.

NB: This also applies to any other differing shadow roles

Q: The support worker I usual shadow, is now on a different shift pattern, and I can’t volunteer on the day they are in?

A: Whilst Outreach, through the Outreach volunteer programme will where possible aim to maintain a consistent volunteering relationship with a primary support worker.

Owing to Outreach employee shift patterns and availability, this may not always be practical and/or possible.

However, the seniors and where appropriate and necessary, in conjunction with the volunteer programme manager; will endeavour to ensure that you have a secondary support worker to shadow on any given day in the short term, or in the long term that such an arrangement continues.

Where this cannot be arranged, seniors will seek to provide wider supportive volunteer involvement within the respective service. This being until alternative arrangements have been made, and which should be at the earliest realistic opportunity in maintaining the stated volunteering role.

NB: If this cannot be achieved in a reasonable period of time; this being beyond four natural episodes of volunteering, or one calendar month in relation to the individual volunteer.

Then the volunteer programme manager should be informed by the senior; in order that a realistic, practical and amicable solution can be found, where possible. 

Q: What scope is there for career development as a keyworker after shadowing?

A: The current environment is very competitive, and for those volunteers who are looking at a career in the field. I.e. as a keyworker, or in similar and allied roles i.e social worker, nurse etc.  It is important to realise that many employers are looking for significant experience before being considered beyond the application stage.

The Outreach volunteer programme aims to enable as many volunteers to find paid work, as wish to do so. This being through experiential, real time, real environment quality focussed volunteering.

NB: It needs to be stressed there are NO guarantees of paid work; however historically, statistically and anecdotally. Those volunteers who have greater experience, have the greater chance of seizing any opportunities that arise, in their chosen career paths.

Q: Can I be subject to disciplinary measures?

A: Although you cannot be subject to disciplinary measures in exactly the same way as paid staff. As a volunteer you are for example, expected to behave in ways that do not cause harm or hurt to others. As such, should you do and/or be involved with anything that constitutes for example, gross misconduct; and/or which contravenes any of Outreach’s policies and procedures. I.e Violence towards a third party; you can be subject to similar disciplinary procedures as a paid member of staff; and you can for example be asked to leave the premises with immediate effect. Subsequently in turn, following Outreach and Outreach volunteer policies and procedures, this may result in volunteering opportunities being terminated.

NB: Where appropriate and necessary, again in line with Outreach policy and procedures, Outreach would refer matters to the relevant authorities i.e The Police

Q: Am I entitled to smoke and vape breaks?

A: You are entitled to take Smoking or Vaping breaks, in accordance with Outreach policies, procedures and the law as it stands (I.e No smoking in buildings)

As an Outreach volunteer, we would ask that you be reasonable and apply common sense in choosing when to take them whilst you are volunteering.

NB: Outreach on the grounds of Health, safety and Welfare now or in the future, neither condones, promotes or encourages Smoking and/or Vaping.

Q: Will I be able to ask a member of staff for references?

A: After a successful and sustained period of volunteering, typically around six months or greater. The volunteer programme manager is open to being approached in relation to references. For example, in respect of and/or in relation to seeking employment.

In looking at such requests, the volunteer programme manager will consider all aspects in respect of a persons’ volunteering practice and not just chronology. E.g. A persons professionalism, contribution, team-working, person-centredness and ethics. 

NB: Where a volunteer is episodic and volunteering for a short agreed set period of time, e.g. Two months. This being for example; in respect of website creation; then the volunteer programme manager will reflect such pro-rata volunteering involvement; and outcomes when writing references.

Q:Will I be able to ask a member of staff for references?

A: After a successful and sustained period of volunteering, typically around six months or greater. The volunteer programme manager is open to being approached in relation to references. For example, in respect of and/or in relation to seeking employment.

In looking at such requests, the volunteer programme manager will consider all aspects in respect of a persons’ volunteering practice and not just chronology. E.g. A persons’ professionalism, contribution, team-working, person-centeredness and ethics. 

NB: Where a volunteer is episodic and volunteering for a short agreed set period of time, e.g. Two months. This being for example; in respect of website creation; then the volunteer programme manager will reflect such pro-rata volunteering involvement; and outcomes when writing references.

 Q: Can I bring friends/ family/children to volunteer with me?

A: No, due to amongst other things safety and the confidential nature of the Outreach’s service user activities; and given the clearance and vetting procedures in place for all staff and volunteers. I.e DBS checks. It is not possible, appropriate, ethical nor practicable.

Equally, such people would not be insured and may also find themselves in situations they are uncomfortable with, not trained to deal with, and/or find distressing, or distress others.

Q: When we support service users to have a day out at the park, can I bring my dog?

A: No, the reason for this is that not everyone likes dogs, and/or feels safe around them, even though a person my say they are. There may also be religious or cultural reasons why this may be inappropriate NB This principle also applies to cats, rats, ferrets, birds, and across the animal kingdom.

Q: Is there any other kind of volunteering that I can do at Outreach?

A: If you have any ideas and/or innovations relating to Outreach and The Outreach Volunteer programme, and/or how we could improve the services we offer; expand and/or enhance the volunteer program; then we are very open to suggestions.

Sometimes thoughts and ideas will need further discussion and may need to be taken to a higher level before implementation, whilst some suggestions can be implemented at a “local” level. I.e at one of the houses quickly, and subsequently such a change could be suggested to others as part of sharing best practice.

Q: What happens if I am sick or unable to volunteer when I have agreed to.

A: If you know there is going to be a problem in respect of your agreed volunteering. then we would ask you to phone at earliest opportunity to inform a member of staff of the situation. I.e. The keyworker you are shadowing, the volunteer programme manager or the quality and staff development manager.

Q: How many days could I volunteer?

A: Negotiable, but most volunteers, volunteer one day a week; this is seen by the volunteer programme as being fairest to all, and sustainable in the long term. This given life events affecting/effecting volunteers, i.e. University work, childcare, paid work commitments etc.; and in ensuring that volunteers are ethically and appropriately funded i.e in respect of out of pocket expenses, throughout their volunteering time with Outreach.

Q: Can I take holidays?

A: Yes of course, (we all need a break). However, we would ask that you to inform us when you are intending to be away, in advance. So that we know not to assign any volunteering to you during that period; and importantly so that service users who may well be looking forward to seeing you, are not disappointed and/or upset.

NB: Please contact your direct mentor/support or senior (At the houses) or at The Hub. The quality and Staff Development Manager, or Volunteer Programme Manager.

 Q: What if I have a problem with a paid member of staff or another volunteer?

A: Where you feel that the problem cannot be resolved between yourselves, then you should inform the volunteer programme manager or other manager of the issue/situation at the earliest opportunity. And which in turn they will refer to and follow Outreach’s volunteer problem solving policy, and allied policies and procedures in order to address any such issues/problems.

Q: Am I entitled to breaks?

A: Yes, Tea and coffee are provided free of charge in the kitchen, and volunteers are encouraged to help themselves as necessary. (Please leave Kitchen tidy)

Q: What are the names and roles of the Outreach Staff and their roles?

A: Please see the Outreach staffing profile contained within your Volunteer Handbook

As previously mentioned, this FAQ section may answer some of your questions; however, if the answer is not here. Please do feel free to ask the Volunteer Programme Manager.

Remember, there are no silly questions and the Outreach team will always do their best to get you the answers to your questions.

Common reasons for not volunteering (We've got them covered)

 

We wish to ensure that there are no barriers to you becoming.

"The difference, that makes the difference"

Volunteering….!?

Research suggests half of us would volunteer if we knew more.

At Outreach, we are always open to any questions you may have about volunteering, and what you can expect from ethical professional volunteer supporting environments, such as the Outreach Volunteer Programme.

At Outreach there are no silly questions, and every question is valid in seeking greater knowledge and awareness, in making informed choices in volunteering

I’ve never volunteered before…!

At Outreach whilst we have a core of “things” we know, do, and have done so for over 40 years. There are and always will be things that we too have never done before. That’s the way we grow as individuals, as a team and as an organisation. 

The Volunteer programme as of 2019, is not something Outreach as an organisation have done before. However, by employing people with the right skills set, who will in turn recruit and support volunteers with their own skills and attributes; allied to their unique personalities.

The Outreach volunteer programme is something that will develop and grow to the benefit of all involved and supported. Everyone and everything starts from somewhere! And whilst some volunteering opportunities do require a certain level of experience, many volunteers come to gain that experience.

I would volunteer for Outreach, but I am currently doing a degree and/or course…!

“I wish someone would have told me before; that I need relevant experience, over an extended period of time!”

A comment Outreach’s volunteer project manager has heard so many times; having had a wealth of experience in speaking with people who are undertaking degrees and courses. In working with the Universities of Manchester, Salford, Bolton etc. This being allied to colleges across the Greater Manchester area.

All in conveying the message to students that significant experience running parallel with academic study will ALWAYS trump academic study alone!

Knowing this, and that volunteering within appropriate environments related to your chosen career path is essential when applying for work. The Outreach volunteer programme offers you the opportunity to further enhance your skills, knowledge and awareness.

For example, in shadowing qualified staff within residential properties, in supporting and empowering people who identify with learning disabilities, difficulties, and/or mental health needs.

I don’t have time…!

Time poor, busy people, often have misconceptions about volunteering and think that they have to commit to volunteer for a day or two a week. Modern volunteering recognises that people have busy lives, and as such offers episodic volunteering opportunities to people who for example; have a specialism, expertise or skill. This being in enabling Outreach to meet its shorter term aims and objectives. E.g. you may be a trainer, photographer, or even a Juggler, Comedian, for an Outreach service user social event.

I am reluctant to volunteer as I fear discrimination because I identify as being….!

Outreach provides a person-centred, non-judgmental warm, empowering and accepting environment in respect of all people. The Outreach volunteer programme welcomes applications all members of community and society, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, gender identity, assigned birth sex, religion, ethnicity, political persuasion, class, status etc.

Outreach respects the reality that in wishing to have a rich and diverse organisation, then it must enable and facilitate that at every opportunity.

I identify with anxiety issues, it’s all about being around people isn’t it?  

Whilst the vast majority of volunteering will be engaging, interacting and supporting people. Outreach acknowledges that for some people, this would not be helpful i.e. someone who identified with anxiety.

As roles are identified and developed through the Outreach volunteer programme, and in being inclusive in respect of and in relation to how volunteers themselves identify. We are always open to suggestions and ways in enabling people to volunteer for us.

For example, this may be around social media opportunities where there are less people involved; or even in volunteering remotely in the production of promotional materials.

You may find that over time, that given the person-centred nature of Outreach; that anxiety levels are lessened overtime and you wish to be involved to a greater degree with other volunteers, staff and of course service users. 

I’ve not got the confidence to volunteer…!

Outreach is a person-centred and person centric organisation; with all those working and volunteering for Outreach. Genuinely, being a part of Outreach’s person-centred ethos, in empowering and enabling everyone, to have the best environment in achieving their own aims, and objectives and in supporting others to achieve theirs.

Outreach, always aims to provide volunteering opportunities that open the door to greater levels of confidence, through accepting, understanding, and encouraging people to be the best they can be. “To be the difference that makes the difference”.

I am an asylum seeker and my English is bad, so I can’t volunteer for Outreach…!

People who speak other languages can help in all kinds of ways. Examples are, that Outreach may have a person accessing its services whose first language is not English. Therefore, such a volunteer might be able to help out with translation in respect of empowering interventions in relation to individual service users.

Outreach is, and is increasingly a rich and diverse environment, and one that wishes to reach out to all communities in providing its services equally.

To this end, in reaching out to those communities whose first language is not English; volunteering opportunities may also be in respect of translation and cultural awareness training facilitation.

In addition to this, volunteering within Outreach is a great supportive environment for learning English, and importantly learning local living language; allied to meeting local people, learning of local and national UK culture. All of which are great ways to foster integration and wider community involvement. For example, in respect of those seeking asylum from war torn environments, persecution in respect of sexuality and who are seeking to settle in UK.

I identify with a disability so I can’t help…!

Outreach pro-actively encourages people who identify with a disability, and/or difficulties to volunteer. To this end, Outreach will take all reasonable, practical, safe steps and measures in facilitating this.

Equally, moral and legal considerations mean that opportunities should not be excluded from those who identify with disability, and/or difficulties to volunteer across the wider volunteering environment.

It’s just not “cool”, “sick”, “bad” etc..!

Many still perceive that volunteering is a bit twee; however, modern managed volunteering within volunteer friendly organisations such as Outreach recognise that volunteering is a mutual rewarding and beneficial experience.

I don’t think I could balance volunteering in my life…!

Many find that in their volunteering; that this is an opportunity to develop multitasking, and time balancing skills. Since learning how to “juggle” priorities and manage time, will develop lifelong skills; and help in many people’s careers. Outreach through your own volunteering commitment, can support you in enabling this.

I have a criminal record, I can’t Volunteer…!

As part of the volunteer recruitment and selection process, Outreach volunteer applicants will need to have a DBS check, as do paid staff. However, in having criminal record in itself, this may not prevent someone from volunteering.

This being in acknowledgement that people can for example, fall on hard times and find themselves with a criminal record; up to and including being imprisoned for things such as poverty related crime, i.e. non-payment of council tax. In such instances Outreach would look at circumstances sympathetically, Again, it will of course be largely dependent on the type of offence/s, if spent etc.

Equally, and where for example, Outreach’s own safeguarding mechanisms and/or the law would prevent a person from undertaking certain activities within certain environments.  However, it may be that other activities and opportunities could still be available, whilst still being compliant with Outreach’s safeguarding policies and procedures and for example, rehabilitation of offender’s legislation.

Outreach through its volunteer programme will always be open to exploring possibilities, in line with policy procedure and legislation as appropriate.

NB Where a person is not suitable in volunteering within the Outreach volunteer programme. The volunteer programme manager will seek to signpost a person to volunteer brokerage services; and where such services may be able to find alternative volunteering opportunities. 

I can’t afford to volunteer…!

The Outreach volunteer programme provides quality focussed, fair, equal and ethical volunteering opportunities. Therefore, it is important to Outreach that no one should be excluded from volunteering because they lack the funding to do so.

In recognising this as being a fundamental part of equality in volunteering. Outreach volunteers will not be out of pocket in respect of their volunteering with us. I.e. In travelling to and from their volunteering opportunity.

As an Outreach volunteer, you give your time, empathy, understanding, commitment, knowledge and skills. To this end; whilst volunteering with us, and indeed throughout the course of your volunteering. We will ensure that your out of pocket expenses are reimbursed, i.e. travel, food, activities; and that this is done so in a timely manner.

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