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Volunteering FAQs

Volunteering FAQs

Who can volunteer?

Almost everyone! We welcome applications from anyone aged 16 or over living in the UK and we're committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, age, disability, responsibility for dependents or unrelated criminal convictions. Although not all roles will be suitable for everyone, the wide range of DEBRA volunteer roles and activities means there really is something for everyone*. 

Can we volunteer as a group?

Although most of our standard volunteer roles are aimed at individuals, we also welcome applications from corporate organisations, schools, colleges, and universities. Community groups who wish to support DEBRA either as a one-off or part of a longer-term project can also get in touch.

Do you offer training for volunteers?

We give our DEBRA volunteers introductory training to make sure they are able to carry out their volunteering tasks. Depending on the nature of the voluntary role, there may also be opportunities for further training, which could include written or online resources, events or mentoring.

How much time would I need to give?

As much as you want - some people volunteer regularly for a couple of hours a week, others help out at one-off DEBRA fundraising events or during school holidays. Depending on how much time you can give, and the level of commitment you are looking for, we can advise on the most suitable ways for you to get involved. 

What checks do you carry out on potential volunteers?

It depends on the type of role you take on:

  • Shop volunteers: We'll ask for a completed application form and the names of two referees (a referee can be anyone who knows you well and is not related to you).

  • Fundraising volunteers: For roles requiring very little commitment or responsibility, we'll call you for an informal chat before we get you started. For roles with more responsibility (for example, where you will be representing DEBRA or managing events or collections on our behalf), we will ask you for the names of two people who can provide references.

  • Microvolunteers: No need to apply or for any checks – just go for it! Visit our microvolunteering page for all the essential information.

Please note: We may occasionally need to carry out DBS checks on new volunteers. We will only do this where the role clearly requires it (for example, if you are applying for a role that will involve regular unsupervised contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults). If this affects you, we will bring it to your attention when you apply. 

What skills or experience do I need to become a DEBRA volunteer?

This will depend on what you do. Many of our roles don't require anything more than enthusiasm, honesty and a willingness to learn; others might require a more specialist knowledge or experience. However, full training will always be provided and wherever possible and practical, we'll try to help you develop the skills you need.

Will volunteering affect my benefits?

No. Please read about the rules for volunteers receiving one of the benefits below:

  • You can claim Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA) whilst volunteering as long as you remain available for work (and interviews) and are actively seeking paid employment
  • You can claim Income Support and/or Disability Living Allowance if you volunteer
  • If you care for a disabled person for at least 35 hours a week and they are receiving the right disability benefit, you can claim Carer's Allowance whilst volunteering
  • You can claim Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Income Support as long as you can still go to a work-focused interview when asked

You should inform your benefits advisor when you begin volunteering and keep them informed of any expenses reimbursed to you by DEBRA. 

I'm an asylum seeker, can I volunteer?

Yes. Since April 2000, asylum seekers have been allowed to volunteer. Asylum seekers who volunteer are entitled to receive out-of-pocket expenses. 

I'm a refugee, can I volunteer?

Yes. People who have refugee status or exceptional leave to remain can undertake any type of work, including voluntary work. 

*Please note that whilst we will do our best to find roles to accommodate everyone, DEBRA reserves the right to decline a volunteer. We are under no obligation to give explanations for such decisions although, where possible, constructive feedback will be provided.

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