Frequently asked questions

For a little more detail on what's involved in volunteering have a look at the FAQs below:

How much time do I need to volunteer for?

This is really up to you. Some volunteering requires many hours a week, some only an hour each month. Opportunities you find by searching the volunteer opportunity finder on the right should make it clear how much time is required. So even if you work full-time and have a busy lifestyle you should still be able to find something that suits you.

Will I get my expenses paid?

Most organisations will pay any costs you have such as travel and meals while volunteering. It is always a good idea to ask about expenses before you start your volunteering, as some smaller organisations may not be able to afford to pay volunteers expenses.

Can I claim benefits while volunteering?

Yes, you can. The benefits regulations are clear that you can volunteer and it will not affect your benefit payments, as you are not doing paid work. Expenses do not count as pay because they are only paid to reimburse you of any expense you have had because of your volunteering. Find out about your rights in more detail at Volunteering England.

Can I go and see where I would be volunteering to check it out?

Most organisations will probably want to meet you to have an informal chat. This is a chance for you to ask questions about the volunteer opportunity, see the place you would be working and meet some of the people you might be working with.

You can ask anything that you feel unsure about. You might want to check some or all of the following:

Can I leave if I don't like it?

Yes, of course. As a volunteer you are free to leave whenever you like. If things don't work out or your circumstances change it's good to talk it through with the person in charge and give them some notice if possible.

What do volunteers do?

Almost anything you want to do or can think of! You can volunteer to rescue people from mountains, to farm organically, build houses, write a magazine, judge criminals as a magistrate or fix computers. If you have a passion there's an opportunity out there just waiting for you.

I'm working full-time. Will I still be able to volunteer?

Yes, there are many opportunities to volunteer that do not require you to be available Monday to Friday during the day. Many organisations would love to find volunteers that are able to volunteer evenings, nights or weekends.

Will I get training?

You will get training for most volunteer opportunities. If you're spending one day clearing overgrowth from paths, then you may get about 15 minutes at the start being told what to do, how to use the tools and what health and safety precautions to take. But other volunteering opportunities require more training, for example, if you were volunteering to give benefits advice.

Can I get a qualification?

More and more organisations are now offering qualifications like NVQs to volunteers. Even if the volunteer organisation doesn't offer formal qualifications you will be able to ask them for a reference.

Can I volunteer if I have a disability?

Yes. There are disabled volunteers in all kinds of roles.

Can I volunteer if I'm under-16?

Some organisations say that they cannot insure volunteers under-16. Always let an organisation know what age you are when you apply for an opportunity.

I want to be a social worker. How can I get experience?

Volunteering can be an excellent way of gaining experience in social work or working with vulnerable people. CSV place's volunteers with social service departments and in other personal care roles. Contact CSV on 020 7278 6601 or visit their web site at