Information for volunteers

Introduction

Thank you for registering as a volunteer with LUSU, we hope you have a fantastic experience! On this page, you will find all the information you need to know about volunteering with LUSU; from training to travel expenses. If you have any more questions, please get in contact with your Project Coordinator. All of LUSU’s volunteering activities depend on the energy and enthusiasm of our volunteers; it is your passion that drives what we do and has a huge impact on local communities. So thank you!

Feedback & evaluation

As a Students’ Union, we want to ensure that all of our opportunities meet your expectations and enhance your skills. Although we will ask for feedback at the end of your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us in the meantime if you wish to discuss anything about your volunteering experience.

Socials

We all love an excuse to get together and have fun! LUSU organises regular social events to thank you for all your hard work and give you the chance to meet other volunteers across our activities.

Health & Safety

PLANNING

We encourage you to have your say in the design of our activities and we will support you in doing so. However it is essential that you keep strictly to the plan and risk assessment for each activity. The use of any external media must first be checked and approved by a member of LUSU staff.

LUSU WILL:

  • Risk assess all activities, projects and events
  • Ensure volunteers only work in safe places and with fully approved organisations
  • Make sure volunteers are fully aware of the risks and safe practice for each activity
  • All volunteers are covered by our insurance policy, as long as you operate within the policies set out in this handbook

VOLUNTEERS WILL:

  • Monitor all risks in any situation
  • Respond appropriately to any hazards
  • Implement procedures to ensure safety
  • Alert LUSU and/or the relevant organisation of any health and safety concerns
  • Participate in risk assessing their projects

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT FOR ACTION DAYS

Most of our Environmental Volunteer Action Days involve practical outdoor volunteer work with one of our partner organisations. To ensure the safety of our events which often take place in a variety of weather conditions at remote locations with rough, muddy and slippery terrain, all volunteers must be suitably prepared with certain items of clothing and footwear. This handbook provides a general guide for these items; please remember that conditions can vary from site to site and at different times of year. We always send all volunteers registered to take part in a particular action day an e-mail prior to the event with detailed information regarding essential personal equipment.

CLOTHING, FOOTWEAR AND EQUIPMENT FOR EVENTS IN AUTUMN/WINTER/SPRING:
  • Stout boots or wellies
  • Warm clothing: multiple layers of synthetic clothing are best
  • Warm trousers: please do not wear jeans for outdoor activities as these become heavy and cold when wet
  • Waterproof coat: this is essential for all events
  • Waterproof trousers: not essential, but will make the event far more pleasant in rainy weather!
  • Thermal hat / gloves
  • Sun hat and sun cream for events in Spring / Autumn: a clear sky combined with the higher angled sun during late spring or early autumn can increase the risk of sunburn or heat stroke
  • Food / snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Flask of hot drink: to warm you up on a cold day
CLOTHING, FOOTWEAR AND EQUIPMENT FOR EVENTS IN SUMMER:
  • Stout boots or wellies
  • A jumper with long sleeves: many of the activities will involve working in hedgerows with prickly vegetation
  • Long trousers: to protect your legs from brambles, nettles etc
  • Waterproof coat: heavy rain is just as common in summer as winter in Lancashire
  • Food / snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Sun hat and sun cream: risk of sun burn and heat stroke are increased particularly when working for long periods of time in large open spaces

Please remember that the above advice is provided for safety reasons. All of our activities are rigorously risk assessed and you will not be able to take part in an event if you do not have an item of personal clothing / footwear / equipment that is marked as essential for the given activity. This will always be clearly stated in our pre-event e-mails.

Code of conduct

COMMITMENTS: As a volunteer others will be relying on your attendance. Please inform the relevant Project Coordinator or external organisation if you cannot fulfil a commitment as far in advance as possible.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Maintain a safe working environment by observing health and safety guidelines set by LUSU and / or the external organisation.

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL: You must never be under the influence of, or carry with you, drugs or alcohol when volunteering.

TRAINING: You must participate fully in all necessary project induction and training activities prior to commencing your volunteering role.

CONSEQUENCES: Failure to adhere to any of the policies and procedures laid out in this handbook may result in a formal warning and / or removal from a project.

PERSONAL DETAILS: You must inform LUSU of any personal detail changes, including e-mail, telephone and change of address.

REPRESENTATION: You must recognise that you are a representative of Lancaster University Students’ Union, Lancaster University and yourself. Any image a volunteer may portray can affect the professionalism of all LUSU and Lancaster University projects and members.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES: You must demonstrate your commitment to equal opportunities and show respect for all individuals, groups and the environment.

Volunteering Handbook

 

What we provide

INFORMATION: We will provide full information about the nature, content and necessary details about your volunteering opportunities.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Ensure you receive the relevant health and safety training for each activity and fully risk assess all of our project and events. Personal protective equipment will be provided where necessary.

SUPPORT: We will provide you with support, guidance and feedback on your volunteering as fully as possible throughout your volunteering experience.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES: Treat all volunteers in accordance with our equal opportunities policy

EVALUATION: We will enable you to evaluate the work you undertake and make suggestions for new initiatives in the future.

EXPENSES: We will reimburse all out of pocket expenses incurred while volunteering, in accordance with our expenses policy as set out in this handbook.

EMPLOYABILITY: LUSU will provide you with the resources to make the most out of your volunteering and communicate your skills and experiences effectively.

Travel expenses

TRAVEL

Volunteers must travel by public transport or bicycle where available, in accordance with our environmental policy. Tickets for all journeys must be kept. Where public transport is not available, or in special circumstances, you may travel by car, ONLY once you have completed the following procedure:

TRAVEL BY CAR

  • LUSU will cover travel expenses for travelling by car
  • You must provide a copy of your driving licence
  • You must provide a copy of your insurance documentation
  • You must have a valid MOT / Tax
  • Occasionally we hire cars to transport volunteers to events. If you are over 21 you may be able to drive a car hired by LUSU, as agreed by a member of staff
  • Taxi journeys will only be booked by LUSU staff

HOW TO CLAIM

  • To claim travel expenses, you must collect and complete a Payment Claim Form from LUSU
  • You must submit your claim within two months of the journey (the date is on the ticket)
  • You must provide all tickets for all journeys
  • Car journeys will be reimbursed at 45 pence per mile
  • Bicycle journeys will be reimbursed at 20 pence per mile
  • All expenses will be paid within 4 weeks of the Payment Claim Form being submitted

Other expenses

FOOD

Food vouchers will be issued to all volunteers participating in an event lasting more than 4 hours if no food is provided, up to the value of £3.50. Where lunch vouchers are not issued, you must provide a valid, itemised receipt.

PROJECT COSTS

  • Before purchasing an item for your project, please check with a member of LUSU staff to check its suitability
  • Valid, itemised receipts must be provided for all purchases
  • If the item you require is high value, LUSU will order this on your behalf, subject to staff approval
  • LUSU has a number of resources e.g. video cameras and craft materials. Please ask if you would like to use any of our equipment for your project or event

HOW TO CLAIM

  • To claim project expenses, you must collect and complete a Payment Claim Form from LUSU
  • You must submit your claim within two months of the purchase
  • You must bring itemised receipts for all project item claims
  • All expenses will be paid within 4 weeks of the Payment Claim Form being submitted

Employability

Look at the skills below. Which do you need to improve? Which do you already have? Can you evidence this? Choose four skill areas to focus on developing through the opportunity you are volunteering for: this could be a skill you need to improve or a way to evidence one you already have. Here are a few questions to help you identify your targets, and remember to keep them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound):

  • What skill area am I going to develop further from today?
  • What 5 things can I do in the next 1, 4 & 10 weeks?
  • How can they give me measurable results?
  • Is there a quicker / more efficient way to develop?
  • Is there something I’m avoiding doing? If so, why?
  • What do I need to carry out this action? Can I get it, or do I know someone that can help me?
  • How can I collect the evidence to say that I have done this?
  • How am I going to make a public declaration of my plan?
  • What question am I going to ask myself every day?

Transferable skills

Here are some examples of skills that you may develop from LUSU opportunities:

TEAM WORK: Knowing your strengths and how these fit into a team; working well with others; listening to people and helping them to develop. You contribute well to group ideas and discussions.

COMMUNICATION: Knowing the best way to communicate with different audiences and the best tools to use. You are to the point while also making the information easy / enjoyable to digest and crucially you can listen as well as talk!

PROJECT PLANNING: Making things happen on time by ensuring the separate parts of a project are all working together, setting realistic targets and managing expectations.

INNOVATION: Coming up with a new idea, novel solutions and original creations. Crucially you are then able to put these into action and see easily how things can be improved.

REFLECTIVE SKILLS: You have an ability to see things from other points of view and can easily get others on board to solve problems. You are also able to take a step back and analyse whether you are doing things well.

INFORMATION SKILLS: Collecting information from a wide variety of sources, judging its value and interpreting it so others can easily understand complex concepts or results. The ability to research things quickly and easily.

LEADERSHIP: Leading a team, motivating others, getting the best out of people in various situations and making things happen.

Safeguarding

Our work with children, young people and vulnerable adults is covered by the Lancaster University’s Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups and Individuals Policy. The Students’ Union has adopted sections 1 – 4, 6, 7 and 8 (excluding section 5).

If your project falls under this policy, you will need to participate in Safeguarding and Child Protection training. This will give you practical advice on how to cope with or avoid inappropriate situations and report any concerns.

Safeguarding Policy

DBS checks

If you are volunteering on a project that involves working with children on a regular basis, you will need to complete a DBS check with LUSU. You will need to complete a new DBS check with LUSU even if you have a previous DBS check with another organisation. It may not be possible to volunteer until you have received your DBS certificate from the Disclosure Barring Service. In some situations, a criminal record may affect your ability to volunteer on a project or placement. Your DBS certificate will take at least 4 weeks to come through and it will be posted to your primary address. You must bring this to the LUSU Office to be verified. For a DBS check to be completed, you will need to bring 3 pieces of evidence. Please note: we can only accept original documents, no photocopies or printouts.

ONE ‘GROUP 1’ DOCUMENT:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Birth certificate

AND

TWO ‘GROUP 2’ DOCUMENTS:

  • Bank, building society or credit card statement
  • Utility bill (not including mobile phone bills)
  • Central government agency document e.g. HMRC

Please bear in mind that one piece of evidence will need to show your primary address and all ‘Group 2’ documents must be dated within the last 3 months. For more information about the types of evidence accepted, visit the Disclosure and Barring Service website: https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/documents-the-applicant-must-provide-   

TRANSGENDER APPLICANTS

Please use the DBS Confidential Checking Service if you’re a transgender applicant who doesn’t want to reveal details of their previous identity.

Email: sensitive@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

CONCERNED ABOUT A CRIMINAL CONVICTION?

If you are concerned about a criminal conviction and you are not sure whether you should declare this on your DBS application, please contact NACRO (a crime reduction charity) who will be able to give you confidential advice and guidance.

Telephone: 0300 123 1999
Email: helpline@nacro.org.uk

CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS

If you are convicted of a crime during your time at University, you must inform LUSU’s Schools Outreach Manager in writing detailing what has happened. Depending on the nature of the criminal conviction, you may need to suspend volunteering until a new DBS application has been processed.

Confidentiality

SAFEGUARDING

If you ever have concerns about the welfare of a child or young person either in school or on campus, please inform the school’s Head Teacher or Lead Safeguarding Officer. LUSU can support you in this process, please contact the Schools Manager if you wish to discuss any concerns.

DISCLOSING INFORMATION

Disclosing confidential information is a serious matter. Before confidential information is disclosed, the case may be discussed by concerned parties and brought to the attention of the Deputy Chief Executive and/or the LUSU Chief Executive Officer. Disclosure of suspected abuse is subject to Lancaster University’s Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups and Individuals Policy. Confidential disclosures are covered by our Safeguarding and Child Protection training.

HARASSMENT

Everyone should be able to work in an environment where the risk of unwelcome behaviour is minimized; whether it is offensive, intimidating, hostile or sexual, or where a person is inhibited to the extent that they are prevented from enjoying their project or event.

If you are subject to or witness harassment of any kind, please inform your Project Coordinator, the Deputy Chief Executive and/or the LUSU Chief Executive Officer

Complaints and misconduct

COMPLAINTS

As most complaints can usually be easily and amicably resolved, it is expected that in the first instance, a complainant should contact the LUSU officer or member of staff who is most immediately relevant to the matter in hand for complaint resolution.

  • Students who feel unable to approach the relevant person directly should invoke the procedures outlined under formal complaints
  • Any student who feels dissatisfied following this process can proceed to making a formal complaint
  • Anonymous complaints will not be investigated
  • No complainant shall be victimised for raising a complaint
     

If this is not appropriate, there is a formal procedure which both volunteers and members of staff are able to initiate: http://lusu.co.uk/complaints

MISCONDUCT

The following are considered examples of misconduct from a volunteer:

  • Financial irregularity e.g. falsification of expenses
  • Deviation from the planned activity
  • Conviction of a criminal offence that undermines suitability to volunteer
  • Failure to notify the relevant person in time if you cannot attend a session
  • Use of abusive language or behaviour in any situation
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Breach of any LUSU or Lancaster University policy as set out or referred to in this handbook

TIER 4 VISA RESTRICTIONS

If you are an international student on a Tier 4 Visa, please make sure that you are aware of and adhere to any restrictions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/540421/T4_Migrant_Guidance_July_2016.pdf