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Creating and advertising the volunteer role

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Design the volunteering role 

You need to create role descriptions in order to manage volunteers well for many reasons. In terms of safeguarding you need to think about some specific questions to make sure that you have clearly stated the safeguarding responsibilities of the role in that description.  

  • What tasks the volunteer will undertake? 
  • What specific skills, experience or qualities that are needed to ensure this is undertaken safely? 
  • What level of ongoing support and direct supervision will the role have from your organisation?
  • Does the role include engagement in likely distressing or emotionally demanding activities? What qualities and resilience are needed to manage this well given the support provided? 
  • Whether this is a short-term or long-term and how frequently someone will undertake the role?

Role risk assessment

Once those descriptions are created you can carry out a safeguarding role risk assessment. This looks at risks from the volunteer to others and risks which could be experienced by the volunteer themselves as they carry out the role.

In a safeguarding role risk assessment you need to ask several questions.

  • What activities will the volunteer carry out?
  • How often and for how long will they carry out those activities?
  • Who they will come into contact with, and what responsibilities will they have towards them? 
  • Are the volunteers or the people they will come into contact with at risk of any particular types of harm?
  • Are there any legal implications of that activity in terms of safeguarding? (Is it regulated activity, which has different criteria for children and for adults at risk, and means you should follow a more detailed safer recruitment guide)
  • Does the role have any responsibilities for training others in safeguarding?
  • Does the role have any responsibilities for receiving safeguarding concerns from others?
  • Does the role offer support and supervision to others? 
  • Will the role likely be exposed to especially challenging behaviour or emotionally demanding activities? What support can the organisation offer to help them manage this? 
  • Who does the volunteer report to if they have any safeguarding issues to raise?
  • Is this the same person they report to for day to day management of tasks or someone different?

What to do when you've assessed the risk

Your risk assessment will help you to make an informed choice about the risks and there are a range of actions you can take as a result. 

  • Accept the risks. This is possible if you feel that you have enough safeguards in place. 
  • Take steps to mitigate the risks. You could consider what additional training, guidance or supervision would enable the role to be filled safely. 
  • Change the role. You could look at the higher risk elements of the role and remove them and/or split the role into different roles which makes managing the risks differently.
  • Not recruit into that role. Where the safeguarding risks are significant and you cannot mitigate them or change the role you must stop and not recruit.
  • Partner with others. You could find a partner organisation with the right skills, experience or capacity to manage the risks with you

Advertising a role

Your relationship with your volunteers is important. That relationship begins as soon as a volunteer reads about or hears about a role you have to offer. You should make sure that they understand your organisation’s commitment to safeguarding as soon as they understand the role you are offering. This will reassure volunteers who want to work for an organisation that keeps people safe. It can also play a role in discouraging people who would want to cause harm.  

Whether you advertise your volunteer roles via a flyer, an email to donors, a handout for existing volunteers to pass on or even a press campaign there are things that you should make clear. You can split your information between the initial advert and a recruitment pack or information you send out when people first respond. The more risk that the role will manage, the more information a volunteer will need to make an informed choice to volunteer. 

You should always advertise roles in some way. If you rely only by word of mouth from volunteer to volunteer you increase the risk that a volunteer who intends to cause harm will recruit other people with the same intentions.

Key things to consider from a safeguarding perspective when advertising a role.

  • Show your commitment to safeguarding. This could include a link to your organisations safeguarding policy and mentioning whether a DBS check is required for this role (and at what level). You should mention that they will undertake safeguarding training and follow your code of conduct as a condition of volunteering.
  • Be open about references. Tell people whether you will be seeking references. Give them details of what kind of references and who you might seek them from
  • Explain the next steps. Tell people if you require specific safeguarding skills or knowledge and explain how these requirements will be explored during any selection process 
Page last edited Oct 03, 2019

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