Using A Volunteer Workforce
Depending on how much money you have to carry out any necessary repairs, you may be able to rely entirely on paying builders, alternatively you may have to undertake some or all of the work yourselves.
Section 4.4 “Organising Repairs To Properties” looks at how to go about actually getting repairs done, this section looks at the logistics of using people as volunteers.
1. General Issues
If you’re going to make use of volunteer labour then there are a number of things that you ought to take into account. You need to make sure that they understand properly what they’re being asked to do and that they are being properly looked after. For these reasons, you need to consider addressing the following:
- Induction: when they start working on the project make sure that they understand what expected of them and how it’s run.
- Training: ensure that they’ve been instructed in relation to the tasks that they’re expected to carry out.
- Supervision & Support: make sure that they there is proper on site supervision
- Benefits & Expenses: explain to them where they stand on benefits and expenses
- Health & Safety: make sure that you have a health & safety policy and that everyone is properly briefed.
All the above issues could be set out in a volunteer policy. See the Latch Volunteer Policy in the Document Bank.
2. A Volunteer Agreement
You may want to draw up a volunteer agreement (but not a contract!) which will set out the organisation’s commitment to its volunteers, and what it can expect from its volunteers in return. A typical agreement might state how the organisation will:
reimburse volunteer expenses
Provide adequate training and supervision
carry out adequate risk assessments &
treat volunteers in accordance with equal opportunities
& the volunteer will:
- observe the organisation’s policies
- attend at agreed times
- give notice when this is not possible.
More information about agreements can be found at:
3. Benefits/ Expenses
Generally speaking you can do as much voluntary work as you like and your benefits will not be affected. This applies to Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. However,
If you are on Jobseekers Allowance you must still be actively seeking work and sign on every two weeks. You must also be willing to attend a job interview at 48 hours’ notice from the Jobcentre and be willing to start a job within 7 days if it is offered to you.
As a volunteer, you are not allowed to receive any money except your actual out of pocket expenses for things like travel. You are however allowed to receive a reasonable amount as lunch expenses
3. Health & Safety:
Since people will be volunteering in a building environment H&S will be important.
You need to make sure that there is a policy in place and that all volunteers are briefed
You will find a number of helpful documents relating to Health & Safety in the Document Bank
All the above issues, and a great deal more, are dealt with on Volunteering England’s website www.volunteering.org.uk . Click on Resources and then on the Good Practice Bank