The Volunteering Experience: Opportunities, rights, and expenses

vHelp was founded to help volunteers with easing their experiences and opportunities within the sector. Ensuring that volunteers understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to taking on these amazing roles is of the utmost importance. In this article, we will be looking at how you can find volunteer opportunities, what your local voluntary services could offer, how to choose a charity you have a connection with, what special skills you may need, how to support a crisis, and what the rights are surrounding volunteers getting their expenses paid back. 

How can I find Volunteering Opportunities?

I’ve always been keen on volunteering but when I start looking I get totally overwhelmed with applications, processes and end up moving on from formal volunteering and doing my own thing here and there. However, as vHelp was founded to help volunteers, we started to work closely with charities and the structure started to make sense.

Your Local Voluntary Services

If you want to be hands-on and stay local then check out your community voluntary service council, check your local authority website they often mention those organisations. These local gems work closely with local authorities, the NHS, events organisers, the police, the fire brigade, and so on to provide them with volunteers. I don’t have an exact number, but our vHelp records only show there are more than 150 local voluntary organisations in England and Wales.

Choose a Charity You Have a Connection With

If there is a cause close to your heart, there will definitely be a charity supporting it! Search for that charity and find the volunteering section on their website. When looking around, you may find that some larger charities may have a formal application process. This means that they may run checks on your background and some may also ask you to fill out a form on their website or in person. But don’t let this put you off from applying! Following a screening process like this is very important as it helps keep everyone, including the volunteers, safe. By choosing a charity you truly want to support, you will be able to grow your knowledge and experience in this field. 

Specialist Skills

By using platforms, such as,  you can find pages and pages of general and specialist volunteering activities. You can also search by local physical volunteering or you can choose to volunteer from home and be involved in things like mentoring or being on the board of a charity and so on.

Supporting a Crisis

We all want to help when we see a crisis like the war in Ukraine. If you want to volunteer to support the war, make sure you volunteer with a reputable charity especially if you are travelling abroad to volunteer, do your research to ensure it’s a legitimate organisation.

The most important tip I would give you is to apply to a few places as these organisations may be understaffed and overwhelmed and don’t have the time to come back to you so don’t wait for one to come back just apply and see what you get.

Are Volunteers Entitled To Getting Their Expenses Repaid?

One of the most frequently asked questions surrounding volunteering is if the organisation you are working with is obliged to pay back expenses. In short, it depends on the policy of the company. Typically, when you volunteer, you are volunteering your time so it’s important that volunteers are not left out of pocket when they volunteer. Expenses are usually limited to food, drink, travel, or any equipment you may need to complete your work. Most of the time, volunteers can be reimbursed for a reasonable amount of expenses free of tax, as long as they are vital to the volunteering position. It’s important to check the policies surrounding your volunteering position before starting.

Why is paying one-off expenses a big pain?

Do you work for an organisation where you often need to pay one-off expenses? So far we’ve come across the following people who deal with one-off or irregular expense payments:

How vHelp Can Support Medical Research and Clinical Trials

When we started vHelp during the first lockdown, we were focused on creating a solution to ensure volunteers were able to get reimbursed quickly - especially as they were completing large shopping trips for vulnerable people isolated within their homes and weren’t getting reimbursed swiftly.  We really connected with the problem and worked on ensuring volunteers’ expenses were getting paid securely and in a timely manner.