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Appointing volunteers

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Contact applicants

Once you've chosen your new volunteer, contact them to offer them the role. Thank them for attending the interview and suggest a start date and induction time. You can also offer some feedback on what you liked about their interview answers.

Let other applicants know they haven’t been successful. Provide constructive feedback and explain the reasons you're not accepting them as a volunteer. You can consider whether they are suitable for a different role within the organisation. You can also suggest contacting their nearest volunteer centre to find other suitable roles.

Before you confirm your volunteer can start, you’ll need to make some checks. These need to be proportionate to the requirements of the role and the level of risk involved.

If necessary, contact a volunteer centre for guidance.

Carry out checks

References

You can ask new volunteers to give references. In most cases, a simple letter or email from two referees is enough.

You could also talk to the referees by phone to check what you discussed at the interview.

Health and safety

Consider the health and safety risks involved with your volunteer role. Use our health and safety guidance to carry out a risk assessment.

Ask volunteers if they have any health conditions you should be aware of. Volunteers shouldn’t feel pressured into sharing anything they don’t want to. The information should be used to make adjustments and provide support. It should never be used to discriminate against people.

Use our data protection and GDPR guidance to make sure your volunteers’ health data is protected.

Right to volunteer

Asylum seekers, people on benefits, and ex-offenders can all volunteer.

If volunteers are from overseas, you will need to check that their visa allows them to volunteer and any conditions that apply.

Remember that there is a difference between volunteering and voluntary work. People who are allowed to volunteer are not always allowed to carry out voluntary work.

Criminal record disclosures

A criminal record check gives you information about an applicant’s criminal history. It's an important part of safeguarding. It makes recruitment safer and stops unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups.

It's not always lawful to carry out a check on volunteers, so make sure you know when to ask for one.

Turning down volunteers

Once you’ve completed your checks you may decide the person is not suitable for the role. Provide constructive feedback and explain the reasons that you're not accepting them as a volunteer.

Consider whether they are suitable for a different role within your organisation. You could also suggest that they contact their nearest volunteer centre to find other suitable roles.

Applicants may also decide they don't want to volunteer for your organisation after all. In this case, ask the applicant for their reasons. This insight may be helpful for future recruitment.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 30 March 2023

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