Volunteer Policy and Procedures - DRAFT FOR APPROVAL
The Council’s Commitment
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council acknowledges that volunteers contribute in many ways, giving their time, skills and experience in an unpaid capacity to benefit users of council services, paid staff, other volunteer organisations and the wider community.
The Town Council also recognises the unique contribution that volunteers make and the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Setting out principles for volunteering for Stourport-on-Severn Town Council, it values contributions made by volunteers and is committed to involving volunteers in appropriate roles in ways to support and benefit both the community and Stourport-on-Severn Town Council.
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council is committed to volunteering and will:
- not introduce volunteers to replace paid staff. Their role will complement the role of paid staff ensuring that volunteers are not used during any times of industrial action to do the work of paid staff;
- ensure volunteers have a defined place in the structure of the organisation;
- take appropriate steps to ensure that paid staff are clear about the role of volunteers, and to foster good working relationships between paid staff and volunteers;
- recognise that the volunteer role is a ’gift relationship’ – no enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise, can be imposed on volunteers to attend, give or be set a minimum amount of time to carry out the tasks involved in their volunteering role. Likewise, the town council is not compelled to provide regular work or payment or other benefit for any activity undertaken by the volunteer;
- acknowledge mutual support and respect – our expectations of a volunteer is to provide mutual respect to paid staff, council members and the council as an organisation;
- acknowledge and value the individual skills, knowledge, and experience that each volunteer brings to the parish council.
Coordination of Volunteering
All volunteers will have a nominated paid member of staff or nominated councillor to offer guidance and advice to help the volunteer carry out their role effectively. ‘Volunteer co-ordination’ will be explicitly mentioned in all relevant paid job descriptions within our organisation. The nominated post holder/person with overall responsibility for the development of volunteering within the town council is The Town Clerk, who is responsible for the overall management and welfare of volunteers.
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council is committed to equal opportunities and seeks to recruit volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds that reflect the makeup of the local community. Volunteering opportunities will be widely promoted in ways that makes them accessible to all members of the community. Each volunteer will be asked to complete a volunteer agreement and be issued with the council’s Health and Safety Policy.
Each volunteer who may be involved with regulated activities will need to produce or undergo a DBS check. This check will be carried out prior to commencement of any voluntary work. However, if a volunteer has a criminal record this does not necessarily stop them from volunteering for the town council.
Volunteers will have a clear and concise volunteer role detailing activity description, including safety advice, which will be reviewed as appropriate.
Induction and Training
New volunteers will be supported in their role through an induction process, if appropriate. Volunteers will be briefed about the different tasks to be undertaken and will be given the necessary information and equipment to enable them to carry out work efficiently and safely. A risk assessment will be carried out for each volunteering activity. This will provide the basis for decisions about what information a volunteer needs and the appropriate induction process.
Each volunteer will receive information about the volunteer’s role and the named manager/supervisor. The named manager/supervisor will discuss any additional training needs and support.
For regular volunteering activities, volunteers may be asked to commence on a trial basis to ensure that the council and the volunteer is happy with the role. Volunteers are encouraged to develop and build on existing skills and knowledge through sharing good practice and undertaking learning and training opportunities.
The Town Clerk will be responsible for ensuring that where possible relevant training is provided. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to attend the identified relevant training.
Volunteers must be adequately trained to carry out a role. The nature of skills required will depend on the activity. It is not possible to detail what constitutes ‘adequacy’ as the skills needed will vary according to:
- The job or activity.
- The circumstances of the work such as the level of supervision and exposure to unrelated hazards.
- The tools and/or equipment being used.
A lack of adequate skills should not preclude volunteers from taking part in an activity. Appropriate training will be provided in advance of the volunteer starting work on site or when working with others be provided during the activity under supervision.
The exact nature of the training will depend on the role and the findings from the risk assessment.
The minimum level of training should be sufficient to ensure maintenance of the health and the safety of volunteers and any people who might be affected by the work, as far as reasonably practicable.
All works undertaken by volunteers take account of the Health & Safety at Work Act. Volunteers will not be authorised to carry out work that either the Council or the supervisor regard as hazardous, in that it would contravene the principles of the Health and Safety at Work Act, taking account of the competence of the volunteer(s) carrying out the proposed work.
Support and Supervision
The Town Clerk will be the main point of contact for volunteers to seek guidance and support and to address any concerns.
Volunteers will be given the opportunity, where relevant, to share their views and opinions at town council meetings or if preferred at a less formal meeting during office hours with council members and the Town Clerk.
Formal recognition of the contribution of our volunteers will be made in various formats including newsletters, annual reports, articles in newspapers and events.
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council recognises that the reimbursement of expenses in traveling to and from the place of volunteering or while volunteering is important from an equal opportunities point of view. Our volunteers can claim reasonable out of pocket expenses, subject to the production of receipts as evidence of the expenditure.
Any claim entitlement and the calculation of expenses will be explained to the volunteer prior to commencement of any activity likely to give rise to expenses.
Following ‘proper practice’, the reimbursement of expenses, as approved by the Finance Committee, it is the responsibility of the Town Clerk to make volunteers aware of the procedure for the reimbursement of expenses.
Volunteers are reminded that training, equipment, materials and supplies will be provided by the Town Council for the volunteer to carry out their role. Under ‘proper practice’, Stourport-on-Severn Town Council operates procurement on a purchase order system with payment against receipted invoices using approved contractors and suppliers, under no circumstances will the council reimburse volunteers for expenses that are not approved and do not follow this practice.
The Town Council’s liability insurance covers the activities of volunteers and liability towards them on condition that the volunteer is working at the sole request and under the sole control of the council. To this end every activity that is carried out by the volunteer requires approval prior to the activity taking place. If work is being carried out without the express knowledge of the town council i.e. a logged email to record that the volunteer is working at a particular site on a particular day, date, time and duration, then this will be deemed as a breach of the volunteer policy and as a result the volunteer may be asked to withdraw themselves from future volunteering activities.
The Town Council do not insure a volunteer’s personal possessions against loss or damage. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to inform their motor insurance company that they are using their car in the act of volunteering.
Volunteers will carry out only the least hazardous work involving, for example garden maintenance with the use of non-powered tools where appropriate.
If there are serious issues with regards to tree maintenance, this work must be carried out by a qualified tree surgeon with their own public liability cover of no less than £5,000,000.
Prior to work commencing, a visual inspection of the site must be carried out to ensure that there are no obvious hazards such as residue from fly-tipping, glass or sharp items.
Responsibility for undertaking the inspection rests with the supervisor/Volunteer Lead. These inspections are to be recorded.
Volunteers may wish to use their own tools. The Town Council will not be held liable for injury caused by use of faulty equipment/tools or loss of equipment/tools.
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council aims to treat all volunteers fairly, objectively, and consistently in accordance with its Equal Opportunities Policy and Grievance Procedure.
Volunteers are to be treated equally, regardless of their sex, gender reassignment, race, age, faith/religion, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, civil partnership or marriage.
All volunteers are welcome.
All volunteers must have due regard to the fact that they are carrying out authorised work on behalf of Stourport-on-Severn Town Council and as such are representing the Council, in terms of both the quality of work and possible interaction with the public.
Please be aware that service users and other agencies are entitled to complain about paid staff, volunteers, or the service.
Volunteers may have a complaint against a fellow volunteer, a supervisor or member of staff from a partner organisation.
The Town Clerk is responsible for handling complaints. Any complaint will be followed in accordance with the councils Complaints Procedure.
Rights and Responsibilities
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council recognises the rights of volunteers to:
- Know what is and is not expected of them
- Have adequate support in their volunteering role
- Know the procedure if anything goes wrong
- Be free from discrimination
- Have safe conditions for carrying out their volunteering activities
- Be insured
- Receive relevant out of pocket expenses
- Receive an induction programme and training opportunities where possible.
Stourport-on-Severn Town Council expect volunteers to:
- Be reliable and honest
- Respect confidentiality
- Comply with council policies and procedures
- Make the most of training and support opportunities
- Carry out their volunteering tasks as agreed and in a way that reflects the council’s values and aims
- Respect the work of Stourport-on-Severn Town Council and not bring it into disrepute.
- Act as an ambassador for the town council and not publicly express personal views on council matters that are contradictory to the councils aims and objectives.
Group Activity Procedures
- Each volunteer will receive a risk assessment to identify any risks that might be faced and how they will be managed prior to the activity.
- Each volunteer will also receive a copy of the council’s Health & Safety Policy prior to the activity.
- A visual inspection of the work area will be carried out prior to work commencing, importantly noting whether there have been any changes since the risk assessment was completed.
- The risk assessment should include as a minimum:
- Details of the job or activity.
- The existing competency of volunteers.
- The circumstances of the work (eg the degree of supervision)
- The tools and/or equipment being used
- Training requirements.
- Volunteers will undergo an induction briefing appropriate for the task(s) being undertaken. This will include a description of the work to be undertaken, tools and equipment to be used, known issues and risks associated with the site, instructions of what to do if there is a problem and identification of other individuals responsible for safety while they are working alongside them. Responsibility for completing the induction rests with the Volunteer Lead.
- Volunteers will be expected to sign the briefing sheet, showing that they have received an induction, they understand the nature of the work and recognise the risks associated with the task. By signing the briefing sheet, the volunteer is stating compliance with instructions provided during the induction and that they have read and understood the Health and Safety policy, adhering to its content. N.B. This document is not intended to form a contract.
- Volunteers will also be expected to confirm details of those who should be contacted in case of emergency and confirm that they do not have any medical issues that would put either them or other volunteers at risk.
- High visibility vests will be supplied and volunteers are requested to supply sunscreen protection and hats in sunny weather where appropriate and suitable footwear. Where appropriate the volunteer may wish to use insect repellent as a precaution.
- On completion of the work, the completed induction brief and summary of the work undertaken will be retained to record work and ultimately acknowledge the contributions to the community made by volunteers.
To be approved by Stourport-on-Severn Town Council at the Parks Committee Meeting on 25th September 2023 and the Town Council Meeting on 5th October 2023 and signed by the Chairman.
Review Date: September 2024