Volunteer

Come and Volunteer with us

We have volunteer vacancies for a variety of roles. Come and join a dedicated and supportive team, help people with the problems they face and learn new skills. We would be pleased to hear from you.

Click on the tabs below to find descriptions of the roles available as well as other useful information.

Volunteer Role Descriptions

 

Click on any of the roles listed below for a description:

Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering

This page provides answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about volunteering but if you want to know more contact us at voladmin@walthamstowcab.org.uk. or you can find useful information here

Are there certain skills I need to be a CAB volunteer?

This varies with some roles we will provide complete training, such as Gateway Assessors and Advisers and with others it is more beneficial if you already have some previous experience to bring to the role, such as administrative assistants, marketing and PR experience, or fund raising experience.  However whatever your skills we will support you so that you learn and develop whilst volunteering with us. We are looking for volunteers who are flexible, open, non-judgmental, supportive, committed to our values and to want to work as part of a team.

How will volunteering with Waltham Forest CAB benefit me?

Our volunteers benefit in different ways. Some of the feedback we have had from previous volunteers are:

• that volunteering with us has made a difference to their lives
• that they have enjoyed changing the way things work for the better
• receiving accredited training
• getting invaluable work experience
• developing new skills
• putting existing skills to good use
• getting involved with the community
• making new friends.

 Do you provide training?

All new team members receive core training about the principles and policies which are important to the CAB as an organisation and skills to which will help you work with people.  Receptionists, Gateway Assessors and Advisers receive additional training specific to their roles. This training is free and is recognised and respected throughout the country. Each training programme consists of working through self-study packs, observation of trained colleagues performing the role, and for Gateway Assessors and Advisers attendance at external training days  run by Citizens Advice. You will be supported throughout your training by an in-bureau Guidance Tutor. We normally have at least 2 trainees at any one time, so you are likely to be training with other new volunteers. We find that most people complete the reception training programme in one month, the Gateway Assessor in 6 weeks and the adviser training programme in 9-12 months, although this will, of course, depend on how much time you are able to commit.

What support will I get as a CAB volunteer?

All volunteers are fully supported and supervised. We have a dedicated volunteer coordinator and other team members will always be there to offer support and guidance. There is a Supervisor on duty at each advice session to guide and assist volunteer advisers. We make sure that you are not put in situations that you are not ready for, and will work with you to help ensure that you find volunteering with us is both challenging and rewarding.

 How much time do I need to give?

For the Adviser roles a minimum of 2 days a week is preferred and for the  Gateway Assessor  a minimum commitment of 1 day a week is necessary. The more time you can give the quicker you will be trained and qualified. However for all other roles a half day commitment per week can be accommodated.

When/ what times can I volunteer?

Due to the level of support and supervision involved, all volunteer roles currently occur only within office hours. Our days are split into half day sessions Monday to Friday. You will be able to indicate on the application form which days and times you wish to volunteer.

 Will I get my expenses paid?

We do not want you to be out of pocket for giving us your time. However our current funding only permits us to reimburse travel expenses at the moment – and this is limited to the cheapest form of public transport. In order to comply with Charity Commission rules evidence of this cost will need to be provided for our accounts. Your superviser will discuss the practicalities of this with you. We are looking at ways to try to increase our expenses fund.

What are the chances of getting a job afterwards?

CAB volunteering provides skills and experience that is valued by many employers. A lot of paid bureau staff, for example managers, case workers and administrators, started out as volunteers.

What are the reasons I might not be selected as a volunteer this time around?  

We always have a large response to our volunteer opportunities and unfortunately we do not have the resources to accept everyone that applies whenever we do a round of recruitment.  So some applicants will unfortunately be disappointed. Sometimes it is simply that the days or times that someone is available. Other times we may have chosen someone who can commit more time with us as this will result in a better service for our clients.

However life changes mean that we have new volunteer opportunities all the time. On the application form you will be able to indicate if you would like us to keep your application and to contact you when future opportunities arise.

I will not be able to volunteer during school holidays or exam time – is this OK? 

Yes this is fine.  The majority of roles within the bureau can accommodate extended absences. What we ask is that you let us know on your application form and give us notice so that we can plan cover.

Am I too old or too young to volunteer?

There are no age limits except for:

• Advisers – the minimum age limit is 16
• Trustees – the minimum age limit is 18

There is no “retirement age” to volunteering with us. We have a good mixture of age ranges within our team.

I have a disability, can I volunteer with you?

Yes. Please inform of us any special requirements  that you may have so that we can discuss and explore your support and training needs at the earliest opportunity.

Our offices have wheel chair accessibility and are accessible to non wheel chair users who have difficulties with mobility.

Can my immigrations status affect my ability to volunteer?  

Yes. There are some groups of people for whom volunteering will be a breach of their immigration status and so it is important anyone with a visa status checks to see if the conditions of their entry to the UK allow them to volunteer.  Breaching your entry conditions can put your visa at risk. On official documents this will probably be described as “unpaid work” rather than as volunteering. If you are still in doubt you should contact the UK Border Agency. The UK Border Agency is an executive agency of the Home Office and deals with immigration issues once someone has been issued with a visa/entry clearance and entered the country. The telephone number for their immigration enquiry line is 0870 606 7766.

Why do you sometimes stop recruiting new volunteers? 

We stop recruiting when we have reached the maximum number of volunteers that we can train at any given time whilst continuing to deliver our core service.

I don’t have any skills to offer – however I really want to be a CAB volunteer. 

We find most people have more skills than they realise. However  training is  available for most of our volunteering opportunities, so please don’t feel you have nothing to offer.

When can I start?

Once the recruitment and selection process is completed, then pretty much straight away. However we like to start groups of new volunteers together so there  may be a small delay if one of the new volunteers needs a bit of time to put in place things like  caring or childcare arrangements.
Citizens Advice (our national organisation) has some useful information about volunteering at a CAB.

Will Volunteering for the CAB affect my benefits?

Definition of volunteering

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus network give the following definition:

‘Volunteering is when you choose to give time and energy to benefit other people without being paid for it.’

‘As a volunteer you could:

  • volunteer for a charity or other voluntary organisation
  • volunteer with a public sector organisation, or
  • help your community.’

‘It is not volunteering if you:

  • do something for a family member
  • are given money apart from your expenses, or
  • are under contract to do it (this does not include any ‘volunteer agreement’ you have).’

There are no limits on the amount of time someone can volunteer for as long as they continue to meet the conditions of the benefit or tax credit they are receiving.

It is worth noting that in most cases, if someone is volunteering full time and receives an allowance from the organisation they are volunteering for such as food, travel and basic living costs they will not usually be eligible to receive benefits. An allowance is different from receiving exact reimbursement of your actual travel expenses.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

A person in receipt of JSA can still volunteer as long as they:

  • remain available for and are actively seeking a full-time paid job
  • take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering advertisements, signing up with an agency and taking other steps required by the Jobcentre Plus office )
  • inform the Job Centre / Jobcentre Plus that they are volunteering
  • can attend interview within 48 hours and take up work within one week.

We can help volunteers in receipt of JSA by providing a standard letter stating that the volunteer:

  • receives no remuneration, only reimbursement of actual out-of-pocket expenses, which does not count towards the JSA “earnings disregard”
  • can be contacted whilst volunteering at the bureau if a job opportunity becomes available
  • can be available at a week’s notice to start work or attend an interview with 48 hours’ notice.

Income Support 

Volunteering should not affect someone’s Income Support as long as they are not receiving any money other than reimbursement of expenses.

Incapacity Benefit

There is confusion over Incapacity Benefit because there used to be a rule that individuals in receipt of the benefit could only volunteer for 16 hours a week.

This rule no longer applies, although many people are still being told that it does. If you are in receipt of Incapacity Benefit then you can volunteer for as long as you want. People often worry that starting to volunteer will automatically trigger an investigation into their need to claim Incapacity Benefit, but in fact this rarely happens.

Occasionally there is also some confusion about volunteering and ‘permitted work’ (similar to the old ‘therapeutic earnings’). The permitted work rule applies only to paid work and should not affect volunteers. Claimants should be entitled to volunteer without having to have it recognised as permitted work.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

This is a new benefit which was introduced on 27 October 2008. The ESA replaces both Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of disability or incapacity. (Incapacity Benefit and Income Support will continue to be paid to existing claimants; new claimants will receive ESA).

The new regulations on Employment and Support Allowance clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer. The regulations also recognise that reasonable expenses can be reimbursed to claimants who volunteer. If you receive any difficulties the bureau can help by providing a letter confirming the number of hours, that these hours are unpaid, and that volunteering is more flexible regarding attendance and therefore cannot be regarded the same a paid work.

For further information about the ESA see the links below:

Department for Work and Pensions website:
Your guide to Employment and Support Allowance
Includes FAQs and factsheets.

Disability Alliance website:
Employment and Support Allowance resource page

Disability Living Allowance

DLA is an allowance paid in acknowledgement of the fact that life for someone with a disability may be more expensive – for instance, someone with mobility problems may be reliant on taxis. Volunteering will not affect whether an individual receives this benefit or not.

Volunteering and Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit 

If you are getting Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, you must tell your local council when you start volunteering. You should also tell them about any payments you get.

Volunteering and Carer’s Allowance 

If you are caring for someone who is severely disabled and you are getting Carer’s Allowance, your benefit will not be affected by volunteering unless it prevents you from providing care for at least 35 hours each week. You must not be working for a close relative, and must receive no payment for your work, other than out-of-pocket expenses. You should tell your local Jobcentre Plus office before you start voluntary work.

Volunteering if you are a lone parent on Income Support 

If you are a lone parent getting Income Support, there is no limit to the number of hours a week you can volunteer. You must not be working for a close relative, and must receive no payment for your work, other than out-of-pocket expenses. You should tell your local Jobcentre Plus office before you start your voluntary work.

Expenses and benefits

Apart from DLA, the above benefits are open only to people who are not in paid employment. Any kind of paid work would jeopardise an individual’s right to claim benefits, and they may find that their payments are docked or suspended. Expenses do not constitute a payment, so volunteers can receive reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses (any expenses that they have incurred because they are volunteering) without their benefits being affected.

Only actual expenses should be reimbursed. We will collect receipts and keep records of what expenses you have been paid, so that if there is any kind of query it can clearly be shown that you have only been  reimbursed money rather than given any extra reward. 

Informing benefits advisers

It is compulsory for claimants to notify benefits advisers that they are volunteering. The benefits adviser can then take into account the nature of the volunteering role and assess whether it will affect entitlement to benefits.

Further information

Further information is available on the DirectGov website.

A PDF on Volunteering while getting benefits is available to download from the DWP website.

Application guidance

To apply please complete the application form by following this link:

Volunteer application form

We would be grateful if you could also complete and return the volunteer diversity monitoring form. Although this is not compulsory, it assists us with our funding:

Diversity Monitoring form

Email the completed forms to voladmin@walthamstowcab.org.uk

Selection of suitable applicants will be made from the information in your application form. We will contact you shortly afterwards to let you know if your application has been successful and what happens next.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.