Volunteering FAQs

I want to volunteer, but I'm not sure what I want to do. Can you help me?

Many people are not quite sure about what they might do as a volunteer. Look at our What can I Do?  page for examples of the different kinds of roles available. Then see our Volunteer Now page for more information about how to go about finding a role to match your interests, abilities and goals.

How much time will I have to give?

As a volunteer, the amount of time you give is entirely your choice, so think about how much time and how frequently you’d like to volunteer before you start looking for a role. Even if you work full time or you have a busy lifestyle, you could still find an opportunity that suits.  See our Volunteer Now page to see how to find a role to suit you.

For how long will I have to commit?

As a volunteer, this is your choice and you are free to leave an organisation whenever you like. If things don’t work out or your circumstances change, it’s a good idea to talk it through with your volunteer coordinator and try to give the organisation as much notice as possible.

Will I get expenses paid?

Volunteer involving organisations are encouraged to pay reasonable out of pocket expenses to support people to volunteer for them, i.e. to cover travel cost from your home to where you volunteer. There is, however, no obligation for them to do this, so you should discuss this directly with the organisation that you would like to volunteer for if you feel that it may be a barrier for you.

If I volunteer will my benefits be affected?

There are no restrictions on volunteering whilst on benefits, as long as the only money you receive is to cover your volunteering expenses, such as travel from home to the volunteering location. There are no limits on the amount of time you can volunteer for, as long as you continue to meet the conditions of the benefit or tax credit you are receiving.

It is always advisable to discuss your choice of voluntary activity with your benefits adviser before you start.

I am under 18. Can I still volunteer?

See our Volunteering for under 18s page.

I have a criminal record / police caution. Will this affect my ability to volunteer?

Not necessarily, although you may need to declare any criminal convictions to the organisation that you volunteer with. If you are working with young people or vulnerable adults you will be asked to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check which will inform the organisation of your criminal record. We advise you to be up front about any convictions as this will not necessarily mean that you cannot volunteer, but it may limit the type of volunteering you can do.

The role I am looking at requires DBS clearance (a police check) - how do I get one?

If the organisation that you want to volunteer for requires you to complete a DBS check the organisation will advise you on how to go about this. It is best practice that the organisation pays for your DBS check.

I would like a paid job with the people I currently volunteer for. Is this realistic?

Some organisations that involve volunteers have paid staff and some are totally volunteer run. So whilst volunteering is a good way of enhancing your employability, there are no guarantees that you could end up in paid employment with the organisation you volunteer for. So look out for opportunities that will help you achieve your goals and that will look good on your CV.

I am a support worker looking at volunteering on behalf of my client. How can you help me?

See our Advice for Support Workers page.

I am not a British National. Can I volunteer in the UK?

There are no restrictions on volunteering for EEA and EU nationals. In January 2017 the Home Office updated its policy position on the rights of asylum seekers to volunteer. Further information is available via the Home Office website and in the Home Office paper ‘Permission to work and volunteering for asylum seekers’, Version 7.0

I live outside East Sussex. Will you still be able to help me find a volunteering role?

Volunteer Centre East Sussex works with anyone who is interested in volunteering in East Sussex. If you live outside East Sussex you may prefer to contact your local Volunteer Centre to talk about volunteering options in your local area. You can find your local Volunteer Centre using the Volunteer Centre Finder tool online.