Volunteer FAQs

Here you can find answers to common questions about volunteering through Poplar HARCA, such as how to apply and what training and support you’ll receive.

If you can’t see what you’re looking for, please contact us at volunteer@poplarharca.co.uk or call our Volunteering Coordinator on 0207 536 8865.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the application process involve?

All prospective volunteers are required to complete an application form. For event volunteers this is a short form and the only requirement for you to get involved.

For on-going opportunities, once you have completed an application form a member of staff will contact you to arrange a time for you to come in for an informal interview. If this goes well we will seek two references and if appropriate run a criminal record check called a DBS (See questions below for more information about DBS checks)

How much time would I need to commit?

We try to be as flexible as possible but it really depends on the role and how much time you are able to give. Each role description gives an indication to how much time is required. Some of our volunteers get involved in one-off events every few months and at the other end of the scale some volunteers give two or three days a week.

What skills do I need to volunteer?

For most of our volunteering roles you don’t need to have any particular skills: Enthusiasm, the correct attitude and a willingness to get involved are often the most important attributes to us. If any specific skills are needed we will clearly outline them in the role description.

What training and support will I get?

It is hugely important to us that all our volunteers are well supported by the staff team and feel confident in their role. You will attend a volunteer induction which is a crash course guide to all things volunteering at Poplar HARCA and is just the first part of your introduction into the organisation. Depending on your role it might be in a group setting or one-to-one and will cover the following as a minimum: – Poplar HARCA, who we are, what we do and our values – Health & Safety – A tour of where you will be based – Other information about volunteering with Poplar HARCA including, accessing training, claiming expenses and there is always plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

All volunteers will be assigned a supervisor which will be a member of staff whom you see regularly and who we think you will have a good rapport with.

In addition, at Poplar HARCA we have an excellent Employment & Training team who are able to provide support to volunteers seeking employment. Various accredited and non-accredited training opportunities pop up throughout the year.

As an extra bonus, volunteers who have been volunteering regularly for at least three months are eligible to apply for Poplar HARCA internal jobs!

Will I need a criminal record check, a DBS?

Yes for some roles this is a requirement. We take our responsibility to protect the vulnerable people we work with very seriously and sometimes a DBS check is necessary.

We will pay for volunteer criminal record checks (called DBS: Disclosure & Barring Service) and can help you to complete the forms.

I have a criminal record. Does that mean I can’t volunteer?

A criminal record may not prevent you from volunteering but failure to disclose relevant information will lead to automatic dismissal. It really depends on what your offenses are and what role you are interested in doing. We will look at each applicant individually to make an appropriate decision, this process is dealt with sensitively with only those involved in the decision making process informed about your history.

Will volunteering affect my benefits?

No! So long as you continue to meet the conditions of your benefit. You should inform your benefits advisor that you are volunteering and we can provide a letter to support you,

Claiming out-of-pocket travel and lunch expenses will not affect the money you receive from benefits.

I have a disability or specific support needs. Can I volunteer?

Yes. If you think your disability, learning difference, mental or physical health condition might make it difficult for you to volunteer, call us on 0207 536 8865 and have a chat with the Volunteering Coordinator about your needs. We will inform you about which of our current opportunities are accessible and make sure that staff members at your chosen project do their best to ensure you can volunteer in way you want to.

I am an asylum seeker. Can I volunteer?

Yes. Poplar HARCA is a charity and asylum seekers – even if they have been refused asylum and are waiting to go home – are allowed to volunteer for charities. You can also claim out-of-pocket expenses the same as any other volunteer.

I have specific skills and experience, can you use them?

We are extremely proud and grateful for the wide range of backgrounds, skills and experiences our volunteers bring to their roles. If you have a specific skill you would like to offer but can’t find an opportunity to suit, speak with the Volunteering Coordinator on 0207 536 8865 or email volunteer@poplarharca.co.uk to see if we can create a new opportunity just for you!

Do you have opportunities for a group of volunteers?

Sometimes we have opportunities for a group of volunteers to support an event or help out with a gardening project. Get in touch to find out more.

Will you provide me with a reference?

Yes! We are happy to provide honest references no matter how long you have volunteered.

Do you pay expenses?

Yes. We pay out-of-pocket travel expenses. Depending on how many hours you volunteer in one day we may cover the cost of lunch too.