Advice for Support Workers

We often take enquiries from support workers, back to work schemes and educational establishments looking for suitable volunteering opportunities for their service users. We have prepared the following advice to help you find appropriate volunteering opportunities that match their skills, interests, abilities and goals.

Finding the opportunities

The place to start when looking for a volunteering role for, or with, your clients is our Volunteer Now page. This will help you to identify an organisation and / or a role that might be of interest to your client.

It is our experience that it is the person looking for a volunteer role and / or their support worker, rather than a Volunteer Centre worker, that is in the best position to decide whether or not to approach an organisation about its volunteering roles. In the case of support workers, you know your client and their needs better than we could ever hope to. We can provide you with information about how to find local groups and opportunities, but we do not have the experience of or expertise in your clients individual needs to be able to decide for you which would be best for your client (or you) to approach. We have also learnt from our experience of brokerage with members of the public that an individual is more likely to find a suitable placement when they look for and identify it for themselves. So it is our aim to empower individuals (and support workers on their clients behalf) to be able to make the links themselves with local volunteer-involving groups.

Approaching the organisation

How you approach an organisation about a volunteering opportunity for your client will depend on whether your client is confident to make an approach themselves or whether they will need your help to do this.

In order to manage client expectations, some support workers choose to contact organisations themselves, either on behalf of or prior to bringing their clients into the discussion, to enquire about opportunities and assess the suitability of the role for their client. This helps the support worker to either pave the way for their client and their individual support needs or it can prevent a client’s disappointment if a role turns out to be unsuitable or no longer available.

Tips when talking to organisations

  • Ask if the organisation would consider “role carving” to take on your client, i.e. reducing the responsibilities of a role to fit your clients capabilities and needs, which would enable your client to still volunteer for the organisation, even if they cannot meet the needs of the full role description.
  • Offer your clients unique skills to create a bespoke role for them within the organisation.
  • Ask what help the organisation would need in order to be able to involve your clients in its volunteering programme, and see if you can explore ways of working together to reduce any barrier.
  • Many volunteering roles can give you confidence, experience and skills that are transferable to the job market. If you are looking for experience in the voluntary sector as a stepping stone to paid employment, look out for opportunities that offer experience that relates to the paid work you are aiming for and / or that provide accredited training or qualifications.

Need more help?

If you cannot find a suitable role for your client, or for further advice on volunteering, you can give Volunteer Centre East Sussex a call on 01323 301 757 or email on info@vces.org.uk.