People who work as volunteers come from all walks of life. They offer their time and energy freely by choice. It is up to you how much or how little you can offer. Every little counts and you are never too old or too young to get involved.
Working as a volunteer can be fun and help you meet new people and make new friends. Give you the opportunity to learn new skills. Be a way of getting involved in your community and give you the satisfaction of contributing towards it. Help you to gain experience which might be useful if you are looking for paid employment. Volunteers are not a substitute for paid workers. However, many organisations depend on volunteers to deliver their services and complement their work.
Getting started in volunteering can be exciting - but it can also be a little nerve wracking! Its natural to wonder if you'll be able to cope with the work. With this in mind we hope you find the following basic tips helpful.
At the start everything will be new so give yourself time to find your feet - a little give and take at the outset, and thereafter, can make a big difference.
Try and get things clear at the start. You should ask for information about the group or organisation, a clear outline of what you will do, when you'll be needed and for how long. Ask about expenses and insurance, and who you should approach if you need to talk about your volunteering.
How can we help?
The Volunteer Centre Western Isles can...
Tell you more about the opportunities for volunteering in your area of the islands; Offer guidance on the kind of volunteering that best suits you.; Put you in touch with organisations that need your skills and time; Offer you any support you may need throughout your volunteering; Support organisations to make best use of your time and skills by providing training for volunteer managers; Help with any new ideas or initiatives which involve volunteers.
If you want to give some of your time and volunteer, then we are here to help you, you can email us a completed registration form and we will reply with a list of suggested options. Or you can phone your local office and make an appointment to go over over your options with a member of staff. Alternatively you can check out our monthly hotlist or search the online database.
If you are just thinking about whether volunteering is right for you then you can read other people's inspirational volunteering stories, or interact with other volunteers via social media on our Twitter or Facebook pages.
Want to stay up to date with volunteering in the Western Isles? Then sign up to our e-bulletin for volunteers.
Do you need extra support?
If you have not experienced work or have a gap in your work history, low confidence or a previous erratic lifestyle such as problems with drugs or alcohol or a criminal history then we offer support, help and guidance to overcome these barriers. We encourage people and work on a one to one basis to negotiate a suitable volunteer placement. Volunteering will enhance skills to find employment and references, build networks and create a routine as a model for employment.
Learning needs, childcare, health and low morale can all be assisted by volunteering and there is often a chance to gain training. Please contact us for more information.
Volunteering and claiming benefits
The Benefits Agency states that voluntary activity should not affect a persons benefits as long as they comply with regulations. It is recognised that voluntary work is an excellent route into employment and can provide experience, skills, training, contacts and references.
Click here for further information
At the volunteer centre our Development Workers can tell you more about the opportunities for volunteering in your area of the islands, offer guidance on the kind of volunteering that best suits you, put you in touch with organisations that need your skills and time and offer you any support you may need throughout your volunteering.
Volunteering from home
We do have a few volunteering opportunties that you can do from your own home. Most of these involve supporting national organisations on a lone worker basis and are not for everyone however if getting out and about is a barrier for you please let us know and we will be happy to advise on the rrange of options available to you. You may like to consider our Loving Hands - Knitting Project which has proved very popular.
The Volunteer Centre are working with Loving Hands (based in Scotland) who distribute items to charities in need. The nice thing about this project is you can knit or crochet anything you enjoy making, as we will always find someone in need of it. So from Prem baby clothes, to hats for sailors, to toys for children in accidents and orphanages, to scarves and blankets for elderly people - the choice is yours!
If you need some inspiration of what to knit you can download some patterns from our downloads page or email us or pop in if you would like something else.
Once you have knitted your items you can drop them into your nearest volunteer centre and we will post them off for you.
Unfortunately there are currently no volunteering opportunities in the Western Isles that offer accommodation. However, we are happy to offer information on possible short term opportunities for people visiting the Western Isles.
Alternatively we do have information on residential opportunities on the mainland and abroad. For more information please contact your local office.
The Volunteer Centre Western Isles is registered with the Data Protection Agency. We operate a policy of strict confidentiality and only record and store information about you, with your permission.
We will not give out your contact details to organisations without your specific permission to do so.
References and Disclosures (Police Checks) for Volunteers
The Volunteer Centre does not request references or disclosures from potential volunteers who use our services. Any necessary checks will be carried out by the organisation you decide to volunteer with. The level of checks and the application process will vary greatly from one organisation to another, staff at the volunteer centre will be able to tell you in advance what to expect in each case.