VIA – Veterans in Action

Why volunteer for Veterans In Action (VIA)?

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People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Regardless of the motivation, what unites them all is that they find it both challenging and rewarding.

Below are some of the reasons people choose to volunteer. For some it provides an opportunity to:

1170728_10151798794592446_231305938_nFor some, volunteering can be a route to employment, or a chance to try something new which may lead to a career change, or to work alongside other like-minded people. From this perspective, volunteering can be a way of:

For others, volunteering appeals because of its social benefits. These include:

There is lots of anecdotal evidence that volunteering has a positive impact on health.

What will happen when I contact VIA about volunteering for them?

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This is not like applying for a job; it is about becoming part of a TEAM. VIA want to find out whether you have the basic skills we need and whether we can offer you the kind of opportunity that you want.

Volunteering opportunities can be short-term or long-term, part-time or full-time. If the role has some responsibility, for example handling money, or if you will be working with vulnerable people or with dangerous equipment, VIA may ask you to go to an interview. This will give you and VIA a chance to assess each other and ask questions.

The questions VIA will want to ask you will depend on the type of volunteering that you are interested in. However we may ask any of the following:

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

An informal chat or interview can also give you an opportunity to look at where you will be volunteering and meet some of the other staff and volunteers. In addition to completing a registration or application form you may also be asked to provide references.

What should I expect as a volunteer?

984087_10151994333386377_3744625327028468092_nFor most part-time on-going volunteering roles within an organisation you should expect the following:

If you are volunteering for just a few hours to help at an event or something similar, you should still expect to be informed about the task and its purpose, health and safety, the organisation, and leadership / supervision etc.

You should also expect to be treated equally, regardless of your gender, race, age, faith/religion, disability or sexual orientation. VIA has an Equal Opportunities Policy and is willing to accommodate volunteers from all walks of life.

Will volunteering cost me anything?

971495_313827545418776_1799096982_nVIA believes that everybody should be able to volunteer and that volunteers should not be left out of pocket whilst giving their time for free.

Under rules laid down by HM Revenue and Customs, VIA are allowed to reimburse you for anything ‘reasonable’ you have had to pay for to volunteer. This can include travel, meals purchased while volunteering and special clothing.

As a small organisation, all we ask is that expenses are of a reasonable amount so that the maximum of our funds go directly to where it is needed in helping those who suffer.

No expenses will be paid our without receipts.

How much time do I need to volunteer for?

This is really up to you. Although the less time you have the harder it can be to find something that’s fulfilling for you. You can volunteer at any time of the week, in person, over the phone or via the internet.

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VIA believes that the more time that you put in then the more you get from the experience including those we help. The VIA TEAM build relationships with the veterans we help so we always encourage volunteers to get fully involved as much as possible although we also understand that many have busy schedules and can only do short-term volunteering.

Much of the volunteering with VIA takes place at weekends or on VIA expeditions and events, you can also volunteer during office hours or in the evening too, again depending on what you want to do. Online volunteering (also known as ‘virtual volunteering’) is becoming more popular as it offers a greater degree of flexibility. Also, trustee and management committee positions can be quite flexible in terms of their time commitments.

Can I leave if I don’t like it?

Yes, of course. You are under no formal obligation to keep volunteering for VIA if you don’t want to. However it is always worth talking to someone at VIA about this first and you can then discuss with them why you feel unhappy and what you feel would improve your time as a volunteer in the organisation.

If you feel that something is seriously wrong or someone is treating you badly you should consider making a complaint to VIA.

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

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Yes, there are many opportunities to volunteer in the daytime, evenings, nights and weekends. VIA can cater for different time commitments, whether you want to volunteer once a month or once a week.

Some examples include:

Will I get training?

VIA will offer training and support where necessary in all aspects of the activities you are volunteering for or ask you to contribute your existing skills.

It will also depend on the type of tasks that you will be doing. For instance, if you’re spending one day joining a fundraising team you will be teamed with another member of the VIA TEAM.

Do I need qualifications?

Obviously this depends on the role, but usually you don’t. Some very skilled volunteering tasks may require qualifications, and VIA may offer you training to enable you to fulfil the role in time.

Can I get a qualification or accreditation?

65521_10201462227996826_7501688807782452665_nVIA, at present does not offer volunteers qualifications such as an NVQ, however you will learn a lot and gain valuable experience, skills and a reference. VIA do work in partnership with local Community Services who can offer training. If you do need a formal qualification, it may be best to contact your local Volunteer Centre as they may know of other local organisations that offer qualifications. Also, you may be able to keep a record or portfolio that would help you get a qualification or entry to a college course.

VIA will at all times listen to what volunteers want that will help not only them but allow them to help VIA long into the future. Our intention is to grow together and to develop an organisation that will grow in all areas giving us access to veterans where they live.

Can I volunteer together with my family or friends?

1234273_4747221897953_44172494_nYes, you can on certain events but you may not have such a large choice as if you were completely flexible.

Examples include:

Will I need any official approval to volunteer?

In some instances people from overseas may need to check whether they are entitled to volunteer whilst in the UK with the UK Border Agency.

Some people also worry that they won’t be able to volunteer if they have a criminal record. Firstly, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 only organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults are entitled to ask about any ‘spent’ convictions that you may have. This means that only certain volunteering roles (usually those that involve volunteering with children or ‘vulnerable adults’) require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously CRB checks).

Having a criminal record isn’t necessarily a bar to volunteering.