Decision details

Volunteer Policy

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Decide on council wide policy and practice for volunteers with the council




Decisions of the Cabinet


1.  That the draft volunteer policy set out in the report be agreed.


2.  That the council adopts the following key commitments:


·  Our recruitment will be open, transparent and fair so that all residents have equal access to the opportunities available

·  All volunteers will be provided with a volunteer agreement which will set out the purpose of the role, describe the tasks and hours and days of volunteering role and any learning and development goals for the volunteer

·  The volunteer will have a named supervisor and be supported to deliver their role and provided with an induction to the organisation and a volunteers handbook

·  The volunteer will be reimbursed for travel and provided with expenses for lunch where they are required to work more than four hours.

3.  That it be noted that volunteering is not a substitute for paid work and volunteers are never a substitute for a paid member of staff. The process of involving volunteers in our work should be mutually beneficial and the systems set out in the handbooks should support us to achieve this.


4.  That it be noted that the criteria for volunteering includes work that is a short term project or initiative to carry out a specific task or time limited exercise, a new idea being tested, some additional research for a team, or additional service that staff are unable to deliver,  or bringing an additional skill to the service. Volunteers can also act as independent advocates or support individual members of the community.


5.  It is important to note the key role volunteering has in supporting people build their confidence and grow their wellbeing and Southwark can play a key role in this for residents though they way in which we construct and develop our volunteering opportunities.


6.  That the guidance for managers which guides services in how to deliver best practice for volunteer roles and the volunteer handbook which sets out the rights and responsibilities for the volunteer be noted.


7.  That it be agreed next steps should be to:


·  Sign the volunteer best practice charter with a civic ceremony

·  Include in the engagement annual report a section on volunteering in the council which also captures the equalities monitoring information about our volunteers

·  Use the annual review to ensure that our work on volunteers with the council is aligned with the Volunteer Strategy Action Plan.

·  Highlight to teams Southwark Stars awards and Civic awards which enable us to publically celebrate the commitment volunteers make

·  Draft a chapter in the manager’s guidance on safeguarding when young people are volunteers

·  Work with colleagues and external organisations such as Community Southwark and Thomas Carlton Centre to develop an accreditation process for our volunteers.

8.  That the measures outlined in the report and the handbook and guidance addresses the actions required because of the BDO audit of volunteering at the council be noted. 


9.  That it be noted that the policy and handbook underpin the principles in the volunteering strategy which are as follows:


·  Volunteering must be voluntary It must be a choice freely made by individuals under no duress. 

·  Volunteering is not a substitute for paid work The contribution of volunteers must add value but not be a substitute for work that should be paid.

·  Volunteering is not free Volunteering is time freely given but it is not cost free. For volunteering to be meaningful volunteers need to be well supported and investment in volunteer management is important and valued. Volunteers should not be at a financial loss because of volunteering and out of pocket expenses where possible should be reimbursed. 

·  Volunteering is mutually beneficial Volunteering must be both a positive experience for the individual and also help to further the aims of the organisation.  

Decision of the Leader of the Council


10.  That authority be delegated to the cabinet member for equalities and communities to approve any final amendments to the volunteer handbook or guidance.

Report author: Caroline Bruce

Publication date: 20/01/2021

Date of decision: 19/01/2021

Decided at meeting: 19/01/2021 - Cabinet

Effective from: 28/01/2021

Accompanying Documents: