Important Information for Volunteers

The principle of volunteering is offering your time for free for causes you believe in. Whilst it is great that you are willing to do so, there is an unwritten agreement between you as a volunteer and SCA as a provider of opportunities. Most of these are common sense, and are similar to that of a workplace.

Equal Opportunities
Background checks - DBS disclosures and references
Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers
Accreditation
Confidentiality
Expenses
Health and Safety
Insurance
Training
Volunteer Support


Equal Opportunities

Policy

Cambridge SCA is committed to the practice of equal opportunities and endeavours to discourage oppression wherever it is found. SCA is committed to opportunities for all volunteers regardless of age, gender, physical disability, ethnic origin, religion, marital status, economic status, sexual orientation or unrelated criminal conviction, making exception only where it can be objectively justifiable[*].

[*]"Objectively justifiable" is not to be interpreted by a single member of the organisation. Any matters of this nature are to be referred to the Employment Group. The Employment Group may refer the issue to the full Executive Committee. This in no way affects the rights of those concerned to representation through a grievance procedure.

Principles

Cambridge SCA puts this into practice by:

  • Promoting the practice of equal opportunities in every aspect of SCA's work.
  • Supporting volunteers that are discriminated against by clients or other members of the organisation.
  • Recognising that everyone is of value by having a policy of non-rejection in he recruitment of student volunteers.
  • Taking positive steps to provide more opportunities for groups that are currently under-represented in any activities.
  • In the area of staff recruitment and conditions of employment to ensure that there are no unjustifiable requirements made on job descriptions. Advertisements will specify that SCA is an equal opportunities employer and recruitment procedures will be carried out so as to avoid any discrimination.
  • Complying with all relevant legislation.

Quality Assurance

The Intake of volunteers is monitored to assess the effectiveness of this policy and identify areas for improvement. This data is to be presented to the Executive Committee prior to the AGM on a yearly basis and to be made available in the Annual Report. All new committee members and staff are to be trained in equal opportunities practices. It is the role of the Vice President to ensure that the entire management group takes responsibility for the implementation of this policy. All volunteers have the right to be represented at Steering Group meetings (on any matter). Any issues brought to the attention of the Steering Group will be treated confidentially. Input from SCA volunteers in this area is positively encouraged.


Background checks - DBS disclosures and references

Due to the vulnerable nature of the children and adults whom we work with, all volunteers working on our projects must undergo a DBS check. Please do not be put off or offended by this, it is a simple procedure, designed to protect both the children and/or adults that you will be working with and yourselves.

Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from working on our projects. Please be assured that only relevant offenses will be taken into account.

We require the names and addresses of at least one person, who must have known you for at least 1 year. They must not be related to you, or from your own peer group. They will be asked to provide a character reference.

All references and personal details are treated confidentially and, where appropriate, according to the Data Protection Act and/or DBS requirements.

Please note, the External Organisations are responsible for their own screening procedures and these may differ from those of SCA.


Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers

All SCA members have basic rights outlined in our constitution, copies of which are available on request. These include the right to stand for office on the Executive Committee, and to vote at Elections and General Meetings.
We will

  • Not discriminate against you on any of the grounds set out in our Equal Opportunities Policy.
  • Enable you to choose the sort of voluntary work you do, within the limits of availability and ability.
  • Give you a clear description of your work, and consult you over any proposed changes that may affect your work.
  • Provide appropriate training.
  • Endeavour to ensure that you do not have to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions
  • Inform you of the level of insurance cover you have when working on any project.
  • Not pressure you into taking on responsibilities which you do not want, or which you feel you cannot fulfil.
  • Tell you to whom you are responsible, and enable you to approach them or the SCA office staff to talk through any concerns.
  • Not require you to perform extra tasks beside those you originally agreed to.
  • Keep you informed of SCA activities and of development and change in the organisation.
  • Help you to make a complaint that will be investigated by the Executive Committee if you feel you have been mistreated within SCA.

You Will

  • Remember that you have made a commitment to SCA and the client(s) you work with.
  • Turn up when you have agreed to, and give warning if you will be unavailable when you are expected.
  • Respect confidentiality.
  • Not discriminate against others.
  • Not assume a responsibility that you know you will be unable to fulfil.
  • Maintain any standards of conduct specified by a particular project.
  • Volunteers should not be left out of pocket by volunteering. SCA funds are very limited - we will reimburse unavoidable expenses if possible, but it is absolutely essential that they are agreed in advance with a member of SCA staff.

Accreditation

If you want your voluntary work to count towards any scheme or accreditation, please let us know when you register so that we can keep the necessary records.

We are happy to help.

We also participate in the Vinspired awards scheme (http://www.vinspired.com/awards), which officially recognises the benefit that your volunteering has on the community.

For more information about this please enquire in the office.


Confidentiality

If you are told something in confidence while you are volunteering, you should respect that. If this puts you in a dilemma, seek advice from the person in charge of the project if appropriate or from one of SCA's staff.


Expenses

Volunteers should not be left out of pocket by volunteering. We are able to reimburse travel expenses to any volunteer but this needs to be agreed in advance with the office staff.
If this applies to you, please apply for more information in the office.


Health and Safety

Health and Safety is the shared concern and responsibility of everyone, and is a legal requirement of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Volunteers working on our own projects are issued with a Project Handbook, which contains health and safety guidelines. Copies of the health and safety policy for external projects can be seen at the SCA office.


Insurance

For SCA-run projects, our Public Liability insurance covers most claims that could be made against you, but please note that unfortunately, volunteers have no personal insurance when volunteering. In over a decade our insurance has never been called upon. We refer volunteers only to organisations with appropriate insurance, but you should discuss any concerns you may have with the organisation you join.


Training

Volunteers working on SCA projects must be prepared to undertake any necessary training. This is in your interest as well as ours. We realise that your free time is precious and limited so you can rest assured that we will not require you to waste it on anything unnecessary.

We currently provide regular training sessions in:

First Aid
Protection of vulnerable adults
Child Protection
Teaching (basic introduction)

If there is any training that you feel would be useful, please do not hesitate to suggest this in the office.


Volunteer Support

SCA internal projects have project leader who will provide direct support to volunteers involved in their own projects. Additionally, the SCA staff are always at hand to help out should any problems arise.

Please do let us know if you run into any problems with volunteering since we cannot continuously monitor your individual progress and rely on you to raise any pressing matters.

Do not hesitate to contact the office if you ever feel uncomfortable or unable to meet your commitments; it is much better to catch problems sooner rather than later.

We are here to support you and ensure that you enjoy your time with us.