Volunteer Centres Hertfordshire

Why Volunteer?

Whilst helping to improve life for others, you’ll get something out of the experience for yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with that … volunteering is a “win-win thing.

It’s worth thinking about why you want to volunteer before thinking about what you might do.

Volunteer for lots of good reasons:-

  • Gain useful experiences & new skills (good for the CV)
  • Try out something new
  • Build confidence & self esteem
  • Take on new challenges
  • Share your skills to help others
  • Make more effective life & career plansgive something back to the community
  • Do something that’s important to you
  • Have fun
  • Meet new people

Why not give volunteering a try? You’ve got nothing to lose & maybe lots to gain!

What can I do?

Volunteer Centres have details of hundreds of different local organisations, so no matter what your age, interests & the time you have to spare, there are ways in which you can help and groups you can join – for example:

  • Offer support to other people e.g. young, elderly, homeless, victims of crime
  • Support people who have mental ill health
  • Befriend people who have learning disabilities or physical disabilities
  • Become a sports coach, or help a local sports club in a variety of ways
  • Help organisations with your office & computer skills
  • Fundraise for a group, or help them with advertising
  • Offer advice, information & support in a variety of situations
  • Help out practically with driving, gardening, DIY or conservation volunteering
  • Join the volunteers at a local hospital or hospice
  • Help run a local charity by becoming a trustee
  • Consider being a school governor, a magistrate or special police constable

Where training is necessary, this will be arranged by the organisation you join, so don’t worry if you haven’t got all the skills you need right now.

Getting Started


Everyone can volunteer! Whatever your interests, experience, skills and time available there should be an opportunity that suits you.

The most difficult part can be taking the first step, but once you get started you’ll probably continue volunteering at times throughout your life. How often Volunteer Centres hear “I’ve been meaning to volunteer for ages”. Don’t wait any longer – you can get started today!

But its worth thinking through a few issues and considering your options before jumping in.

  • Think about what you can offer to an organisation – particular skills, enthusiasm?
  • Decide how much time you want to give
  • If you use a Volunteer Centre’s services to find your ideal opportunity, you’ll be given lots of information from which you can make your choice. But before contacting a Volunteer Centre, it’s worth thinking about why you want to volunteer? Click here for Why Volunteer? Finding the right opportunity is much easier once you’ve decided why you want to get involved.
  • Look in your local paper – news about the activities of local charities will help you decide which one might fit with your interests.
  • Browse the Do-It website. By entering your post code and how far you are prepared to travel to volunteer, you’ll be presented with a list of possible opportunities in your area. You can even register online!
  • Ask lots of questions – both at the Volunteer Centre and when you visit your chosen organisation. Make sure you understand what it expected of you.

Volunteering for Everyone

VOLUNTEERS are people who, unpaid and of their own free will, contribute their energy, spare time, skills and interests to make a difference in the community.

People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can volunteer and Volunteer Centres have hundreds of different opportunities on their books. There should be something to suit everyone, regardless of their time availability. Some people volunteer every week, some every month and some maybe a lot less often.

If you have never tried volunteering – why not find out just what you could do. It could change your life as well as somebody elses!

Volunteering is a 2 -way process!

State Benefits and Volunteering

There are 2 important things to remember about volunteering while you are receiving state benefits:-

  1. You are free to volunteer as long as the work you do is unpaid (apart from out of pocket expenses) and you meet the rules of your benefit. It’s always worth checking with your benefits adviser before you start volunteering.
  2. Volunteering is not something you can be forced to do – it’s your choice.

There are rules for different types of benefits:-

Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)

People receiving JSA can do as much volunteering as they want, as long as they remain available for, and are actively seeking, work. This means that claimants have to show that they are looking for work and applying for jobs where appropriate. People volunteering are entitled to 48 hours’ notice if they are asked to attend an interview, and a week’s notice before starting work. (These are concessions to the 24 hours’ notice normally allowed.)

Income Support

Volunteering should not affect someone’s Income Support as long as they are not receiving any money other than true reimbursement of expenses.

Incapacity Benefit (IB)

There is a lot of confusion over Incapacity Benefit. This is partly based on misinformation about old rules and partly due to confusion about current rules.

It is important to note that the “16 hour rule” which set a maximum time limit on volunteering by anyone claiming this benefit no longer exists. An amendment passed in The Social Security (Welfare to Work) Regulations 1998 removed this rule. Now there isn’t a set limit on the amount or type of volunteering that someone can do while claiming Incapacity Benefit.

  • People often worry that starting to volunteer will automatically trigger an investigation into their need to claim Incapacity Benefit. This shouldn’t happen and the DWP’s most recent leaflet confirms that “you can still be a volunteer and get Incapacity Benefit or Income Support” as long as claimants follow a set of criteria explained in the guidance. (For further information, please refer to page 13 of “Volunteering while receiving benefits”, DWP/Jobcentre Plus)
  • There is occasionally some confusion about volunteering and ‘permitted work’ (similar to the old ‘therapeutic earnings’). The permitted work rule applies only to paid work and should not affect volunteers.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

DLA is an allowance paid in acknowledgement of the fact that life for someone with a disability may be more expensive – for instance, someone with mobility problems may be reliant on taxis. Volunteering will not affect whether an individual receives this benefit or not. (For further information, please refer to “Volunteering while receiving benefits”, DWP/Jobcentre Plus)

Housing Benefit/Local Authority Housing Allowance

This is usually paid to people receiving JSA, Income Support, Pension Credit or who have a low income. It should not be affected by volunteering but claimants should inform their local authority about any volunteer expenses they receive. (For further information, please refer to “Volunteering while receiving benefits”, DWP/Jobcentre Plus)

Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

This is a new benefit which was introduced from 27 October 2008. The ESA will replace both Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of disability or incapacity. (Incapacity Benefit and Income Support will continue to be paid to existing claimants; new claimants will receive ESA).
The new regulations on Employment Support Allowance clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer. The regulations also recognise that reasonable expenses can be reimbursed to claimants who volunteer.


Volunteer Charter

Volunteers Rights

  • To be given a clear idea of their tasks and responsibilities within the organisation
  • To be given the name of someone in the organisation who will look after their interests and who will offer them appropriate support and supervision on a regular basis
  • To be assured that any information shared with the organisation is kept confidentially
  • To be given the same protection under health and safety regulations and public liability as paid employees
  • To be offered opportunities for training and skills development, appropriate for the voluntary tasks involved
  • To not be exploited – volunteers should not: –
  • be used to replace paid workers
  • have unfair demands made on their time
  • be asked to do something which is against their principles or beliefs
  • To be given the chance to play a part in decision making within the organisation
  • To not be out of pocket through doing voluntary work. Travel and other expenses should be offered by all funded organisations

Volunteers’ Responsibilities

  • To accept the organisations aims & objectives
  • To do what is reasonably requested of them, to the best of their ability
  • To treat information obtained whilst volunteering in a confidential manner – this can be information about clients or other workers, paid & unpaid
  • To recognise the right of the organisation to expect quality of service from all its staff, paid & unpaid
  • To recognise that they represent the organisation and therefore need to act in an appropriate manner at all times.
  • To honour any commitment made to the best of their abilities, notifying the organisation in good time should they be unable to keep that commitment e.g. for holidays
  • To be willing to undertake appropriate training with respect to Health & Safety issues, Insurance liability and general good practice as necessary for the voluntary work undertaken
  • To share suggestions for changes in working practices with the Volunteer Co-ordinator

Useful Links for Volunteers



National Volunteering website from Youthnet UK. Browse local opportunities and register online

Volunteering England

I want to volunteer – loads of information

Herts Community Solutions

Can I leave if I don’t like it?

Yes, of course. You are under no real obligation to keep volunteering for an organisation that you unhappy in. Having said that however it is always worth talking to somebody about this first. This could be your volunteer co-ordinator (if there is one), your supervisor or someone in the organisation who is responsible for you or someone who you have got on with well. You can then discuss with them why you feel unhappy and what you feel would improve your time as a volunteer in the organisation.

Can I get paid something towards my expenses?

Yes, you can. It’s a good idea for organisations to cover all your extra expenses that arise from volunteering. That includes the cost of travelling to the volunteering and meals while volunteering. Unfortunately not all organisations pay expenses. This could be because they don’t have enough funds or simply because they don’t realise that volunteers should be paid expenses. Before starting your volunteering, ask about expenses.