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Ending the volunteering relationship

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When a volunteer wants to leave

As a volunteer's life changes they may no longer feel able to commit to their volunteering role with your organisation. It’s important to have a positive approach to volunteers ending their role and to thank them for the commitment they have given.

You need to recognise the safeguarding opportunities and risks that occur when someone leaves.

You should try to have a final discussion or exit interview. You can use this as a key opportunity to gain any feedback about their experience, including about the organisations approach to safeguarding. When someone is leaving an organisation they may be more willing to talk about any worries they have about the behaviour of others. It gives you a chance to explore any concerns they’ve never felt able to share or anything they think the organisation should be aware of in relation to safeguarding issues. You can also consider a survey or exit questionnaire which allows you to look at patterns and trends over time.

Use our guide to safeguarding questions in an exit interview for some suggestions of things to ask.

You need to make sure that they no longer have the access they had as a volunteer. It is important that others recognise that other staff, volunteers and those in contact with the organisation understand that they have left and they no longer have the duties or privileges of a volunteer. Staff and current volunteers should still comply with all minimum standards of behaviour. They should not have access to confidential information or staff/volunteer only spaces.

When someone leaves you should:

  • check all property of the organisation is returned (eg ID badges, uniform or keys)
  • ensure they have completed any outstanding information required for an ongoing safeguarding concern
  • confirm they have deleted any personal details or data they held on behalf of the organisation
  • ask them to remove reference of their volunteering role from their social media accounts
  • remove them from administering any of the organisation’s social media accounts
  • change relevant passwords or codes for locks
  • confirm you have correct contact details for them and any additional consent to contact them in the future in line with your data protection policies
  • make sure all other staff and volunteers know they have left and do not share information or access to spaces that they should no longer have.

When the role is no longer needed

As your organisation changes you may need to change the volunteering role. This might include changing:

  • the tasks volunteers will undertake
  • the level of time commitment needed
  • the knowledge, skills or experience required and therefore the training that must be completed.

Where a role is changing you should always complete a revised role description. This process should incorporate the feedback of the current volunteers about the role and specifically about the safeguarding risks which they assist the organisation to manage.

Once a new role description has been agreed a new risk assessment for the role. This may show that the role now requires additional safeguarding measures to be in place and/or a higher level of criminal record check. You should not allow volunteers to switch between volunteering roles until they have completed all checks or training for the level of risk in that new role.

When you decide a problem means the role must end

At times you will decide that someone is no longer suitable to be volunteering with you.

This may be because of a safeguarding concern, or it may be because of any other concern about their work. You should follow your problem solving procedure for volunteers and, if a safeguarding concern is involved, your reporting procedures for safeguarding. You should also make sure your volunteers understand how they can complain, and that their complaints will be treated separately to any investigation under your problem solving procedure.

Whatever the issue, you have a duty of care to your volunteers and must end the relationship with them only via a fair and transparent process.

When a volunteer is leaving because of a safeguarding concern, you should follow our closing a case guidance on our managing safeguarding concerns page. You'll need to do this even if they leave before you can ask them to, if they were involved in a safeguarding concern.

Last reviewed: 06 December 2018

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 06 December 2018

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