Changing the face of social services – volunteers adding value in service delivery

Changing the face of social services – volunteers adding value in service delivery

Alex Parish, Jane Heath, Mems Hassan




The National Centre for Volunteering would like to thank all the people who

have helped shape this publication. Many individuals, including volunteers,

service users, external professionals and staff at the Centre, have contributed

in different ways. The Centre would like to thank all those who were involved,

for taking time out of their busy schedules and lives to contribute.




We are delighted to have been asked to write this Foreword to Changing the Face of Social Services – Volunteers adding value in service delivery.


Aimed at budget-holding managers in social services departments, this publication addresses a current gap across the health and social care landscape. There has of course been a long tradition of volunteers contributing in both health service and social care settings. But over recent years, particularly with the loss of many dedicated Voluntary Service Manager posts in social services departments, volunteering in social care has enjoyed a rather lower profile and has been less well researched. Fortunately there are now encouraging signs of new levels of investment in such dedicated posts.


We know that engaging volunteers in health and social services can, if properly managed, bring clear benefits – to clients, hard-pressed professionals, volunteers and the wider community. Volunteers can provide responsive, accessible and community-based support services, complementing the role played by paid staff.


Volunteers bring great diversity of skills and experience. Because of the voluntary essence of the service they give, and because they reflect the diversity of the community in which they serve, they can often help break down barriers, acting as a human bridge between clients and professionals. In addition to many practical tasks, volunteers often have time for paying attention, perhaps the most dignifying thing one human being can offer another.


This guide is the result of work undertaken by the National Centre for Volunteering and funded by the Department of Health. It examines the potential for involving volunteers, especially in working with looked after children within the Quality Protects framework of good practice. It provides paid staff charged with commissioning and providing services with a wealth of information about the value and benefits of engaging volunteers. It includes case studies highlighting examples of good practice, details of the policy implications and guidance on how to implement effective volunteering programmes.


The guide shows how volunteers can add value to the work of paid staff through building informal, trusting relationships with clients, especially the vulnerable and most in need, as well as through complementing service provision with practical and emotional support. It also shows how volunteers can cross boundaries between health and social care, in the process contributing to the provision of more integrated and effective joint working.


We hope that this guide will both encourage managers to see the potential added value which the imaginative involvement of volunteers can bring to service provision

and to allocate the resources necessary to ensure that this is developed safely and well. We believe this to be in the very best interests of those whom our public services are designed to support.



Baroness Jill Pitkeathley of Caversham OBE   


The National Centre for Volunteering


Anne Parker CBE


National Care Standards Commission


Introduction: Volunteering in Social Services



“Volunteering empowers people. It is rewarding for individuals. It cuts across divides of age, race and gender which isolate and alienate people. It strengthens the bonds between individuals which are the bedrock of a strong civil society. And in doing so

it helps create a sense of citizenship that is often missing from so many of our communities today.”

David Blunkett, The Independent, 9 October 2001





Do you involve volunteers in the delivery of social services in your area?

If not, perhaps you should consider it. Many social services departments are already doing so. Involving volunteers may be easier than you think, and they can add significant value to your services in a variety of meaningful ways.


If you are a policy maker or manager in social services, then this guide is for you. It will show you why volunteering in social services is important and how you can involve volunteers in your department’s work. It is not intended to be a good practice guide on volunteer management in social services, as there are already plenty of general good practice guides in publication that can easily be adapted by managers of volunteers to the social services context.  Instead, this guide aims to encourage you to think about introducing volunteers into your organisation or department, and to consider how to begin to involve them or how to involve them more extensively.


The first part of the guide looks at some basic questions about volunteering in social services. Why should you consider involving volunteers, what can they do for you, what do they already do for others? It looks at policy initiatives that affect volunteering and also at policies more specific to social services that link to volunteering.


The second section is about how you can go about involving volunteers, with a step-by-step guide to setting up a volunteer scheme in your organisation. The third part of the guide uses case studies to show how some social services departments already involve volunteers effectively in their service delivery. Some have recently engaged with volunteering, others are experts and ‘old hands’. These case studies are very useful, as those social services departments that currently involve volunteers do so in different ways: not only in involving volunteers in different types of services, but also in the different ways that volunteering fits into their organisational structure.


The last section of the guide features a toolkit to signpost you to useful volunteering resources, including relevant web sites, publications, organisations, networks, and events.


For the purposes of consistency, the term ‘volunteers manager’ has been used to denote a manager of volunteers, except in the case studies where we have kept the terms used by the local social services departments themselves. Volunteers managers (VMs) are often referred to by a variety of titles, including Voluntary Service Managers (VSMs), Voluntary Service Officers (VSOs), Volunteer Managers, Volunteer Co-ordinators, and Volunteer Officers. 


This guide has been written by the National Centre for Volunteering (the Centre) as part of a three-year project on volunteering in social care in England, and is funded by the Department of Health. It is designed to complement the Centre’s social care website, where practical and good practice information can be found on setting up volunteering projects in social services.  This guide builds on the work of two previous Centre publications, At One with Volunteers and Volunteering in Social Care: meeting your aims through involving volunteers in social care. Further details of these publications can be found in the ‘Help is at Hand’ section.



Why involve volunteers?

One reason why you should consider involving volunteers is that a significant number of people are willing to volunteer their time, for a variety of reasons. People’s motivations for volunteering range from altruism through to opportunities to gain work experience and the desire to meet people socially.


According to The 1997 National Survey on Volunteering, 22 million people volunteered in some form or another in the UK across the public, private and voluntary sectors, with 19% of volunteers involved in health and social welfare. Although no statistics exist for levels of volunteering in social services departments, we do know that over 36,000 volunteers were involved in 257 NHS Trusts in 1998, undertaking such activities as volunteering in wards, out-patient clinics, befriending schemes, reception, chapel work, tea bars/cafeterias, and transport.



What’s in the policy?

Not only is volunteering widespread, but it is also increasingly topical. Volunteers manager positions are increasing, networks are in existence to support them, and steps are being taken to professionalise their role. What’s more, the current government is keen for volunteering to provide an opportunity for people to become active citizens in their communities. Home Secretary David Blunkett recently referred to volunteering as ‘one of the most important aspects of citizenship … a key feature of a dynamic democracy’.



Volunteering is linked not only to the active citizenship agenda, with citizenship now part of the school curriculum, but also to policies relating to:


  • social inclusion
  • regeneration
  • social capital


Volunteering is a genuine way in which people can give something to the community and gain something in return, whether it be a new skill or a sense of empowerment, self-worth or belonging. Volunteering is a two-way process, as it enables those of us who use public or voluntary services to benefit from such diverse voluntary effort.


Initiatives have been put in place by the government to harness the

volunteering potential of the young and the old. For instance, the Millennium Volunteers (MV) initiative for young people aged between 16 and 24 encourages volunteering activity that contributes to the community while equipping the young with new skills. And the recently launched National Experience Corps aims ‘to capture the talent of those in older age groups, who have experience and skills that can be of benefit to the whole community’.


Other initiatives have sprung up along the way, such as TimeBank and, both of which aim to increase the number of people volunteering. TimeBank advertises through television and links potential volunteers to their local Volunteer Bureau to highlight volunteering opportunities in their area. has a specific health and social care section, which opens the way for an increasing number of potential volunteers for health and social care agencies.


Increasingly, many employers are engaging in employee volunteering (EV) programmes, whereby employers actively encourage their employees to become involved in regular or one-off activities in the community. This is seen to be good not only for the image of a company, but also for improved relations between businesses and the communities they serve. It also benefits their employees, who derive considerable satisfaction and often enhanced skills from community investment. Some employers match an hour of work time with an hour of an employee’s time to allow employees to read with children in schools or to offer head teachers their business management skills. Other employers are committing to employee volunteer policies, with either personnel or corporate social responsibility departments given responsibility for arranging volunteer opportunities. Again, the current government is trying to encourage employee volunteering, with some of its own departments involving its civil servants in volunteering.


For more information on employee volunteering, visit



Where does volunteering in social services fit in?

 In February 2000 the Prime Minister called for an increase in public-sector

volunteering, acknowledging how much public services can benefit from involving more volunteers. This call came after the distribution of a joint Health and Social Services Circular to chief executives and directors of NHS Trusts and social services to promote volunteering in health and social care6.


Other than the general policy agenda around citizenship, social inclusion, regeneration and social capital, volunteering is also pertinent to:


  • Best Value
  • Quality Protects
  • Joint working with health
  • Local Compacts
  • Youth offending policies
  • National Services Framework Mental Health
  • National Minimum Standards


Best Value social services directors and commissioners will be looking at the gaps in services and how they can be filled to provide Best Value. Volunteering fits in here as it complements the services provided by paid staff. Volunteers take on tasks because they are motivated to do so for multifarious reasons: they are flexible, they offer that bit extra, they are unpaid and they can be an effective way of adding Best Value to service delivery.


Quality Protects the Quality Protects initiative aims to provide better outcomes for vulnerable children particularly those who are looked after. By involving

volunteers in children’s services, exciting projects can be created that are relevant to the needs of children and help social services departments to meet their Quality Protects objectives. Volunteers can train as independent visitors, they can become mentors or befriend children who are looked after, they can help them to access leisure pursuits, or they can help to develop the education of looked-after children. There is no reason why social services could not tap into an employee volunteering (EV) scheme with a local business to see if their employees would like to help with the educational skills of children in residential homes. This would be in a similar vein to EV schemes in schools that help children with their maths and literacy.


Joint working with health with the present emphasis in health and social services on joint working and partnerships based on the NHS Plan, the new Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Care Trusts provide significant opportunities for volunteer effort. As has been previously noted, the NHS has a history of involving volunteers and employing volunteers managers. As joint health and social care services develop, volunteering is increasingly likely to come on to the social services agenda. Some PCTs are already involving volunteers, and in some instances the voluntary sector has taken the lead – for example, the Westbank League of Friends in Exeter, who are reviewed in the case study section. Volunteers managers in NHS Trusts or social services departments are also approaching their local PCTs to discuss the involvement of volunteers. With the emphasis on the accountability of the health service to patients and the public, and with the new Patients Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) mandated to appear in each NHS Trust, opportunities abound for volunteers to become increasingly involved in health and social care. Health Action Zones and Healthy Living Centres also provide opportunities for volunteer contributions, ranging from community food programmes to physical activity programmes for people at risk from heart disease.


Voluntary and community sector partnerships Local authorities and social services departments are increasingly working with the local voluntary and community sector to deliver effective services. Local Compacts can be very useful in this process. Local Compacts are applications of the national Compact, which is an agreement between the government and the voluntary and community sector to improve their relationship for mutual advantage. The principles outlined in the national Compact have been turned into five codes of practice, one of which is a volunteering code. Local Compacts take the relationship between the public and voluntary and community sectors to a local level and can have codes of practice attached. There is further guidance available on how to develop and implement change as recommended in the Compact in the recent ‘cross-cutting review’ published by the Treasury.



West Sussex County Council has a Compact which undertakes to:


  • support good practice in the management and use of volunteers
  • properly resource volunteering activity
  • recognise the role volunteers play in the provision of funded services
  • understand the legal  responsibilities and liabilities of volunteers acting

            as trustees on boards of management

  • assess the impact of organisational policies on volunteers and appreciate the administration needed for policy compliance
  • give specific recognition to the work and worth of volunteers in leaflets, reports and other materials.


In addition, West Sussex has devised a Volunteering Guide to Good Practice as part of its Compact.


Youth offending policy The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999

introduced a radical new approach to first-time offenders. First-time offenders who plead guilty and do not require a custodial sentence will be referred to a panel drawn from the local community and facilitated by the youth offending team. These youth offender panels, which came into force in April 2002, will consist of at least two unpaid volunteers from the local community on each panel, alongside a paid staff member from the local youth offending team. The Home Office is aiming to recruit 5,000 volunteer youth offender panel members.


National Minimum Standards Another reason why your organisation should be aware of volunteering is because volunteers are included in the National Minimum Standards for children’s homes, among others. These standards were published in March 2002 by the Secretary of State for Health, and apply in particular to the safe recruitment of volunteers. The Centre’s revised Safe and Alert publication provides extensive information about the safe involvement of volunteers who work with vulnerable people and the Centre’s Information Line provides up-to-the-minute guidance on the Criminal Records Bureau. More information about these services is available in the ‘Help is at Hand’ section.



National Service Framework Mental Health Standard One of the National Service Framework for Mental Health (NSF) aims to ensure that health and social services promote mental health and reduce the discrimination and social exclusion associated with mental health problems. The Department of Health states that ‘effective mental health promotion depends on expertise, resources and partnerships across all sectors and disciplines’. Volunteering is a significant way in which people can contribute to their communities and can become more included. Social services departments need to be aware of the social benefits of projects that involve volunteers alongside people with mental health problems such as befriending schemes, as well as the benefits of projects that involve people with mental health problems as volunteers.


The above are all examples of how national policy and volunteers are mutually compatible, and why you should consider involving volunteers in your social services department. But what exactly will volunteers bring to your organisation?


Valuing volunteering

Clearly volunteers offer value to social services, not only in financial terms for the organisation but in quality of life terms for service users.


Volunteers are of value because:


  • they complement the services that are delivered
  • they can help free up social workers to focus on their statutory and

            crisis duties

  • they can add value to preventative services
  • they are flexible and can often work outside contracted hours
  • users appreciate the fact that volunteers aren’t paid, but are motivated

            for reasons other than money

  • users don’t always see volunteers in the same context as statutory workers      in relation to power and control over their lives
  • volunteers can build bridges with the community that social services serves
  • volunteers bring fresh and creative ideas, knowledge and experience to

            the services

  • volunteers are diverse.


Results from a National Centre for Volunteering pilot project study on volunteers and mental health befriending with people involved in the Care Programme Approach found that service users particularly appreciated volunteers because they were not paid and not considered to be part of the system in the same way that paid staff were.


As Chris Davies, the corporate director of Somerset social services, points out, volunteers are value for money. Although volunteers offer their time for free, volunteering is not a cheap option, nor should it be considered as such. Setting up a volunteering programme involves time, money and commitment, but the rewards for this investment are considerable.


More information about obtaining finances and budgeting for a volunteer programme can be found in the next section.


It is very likely that your social services department is already involving

volunteers indirectly through contracts and service level agreements with

voluntary sector organisations that deliver some of your social care. You may be contributing to the funding of organisations such as Home Start, which works with parents of children under five and has always involved volunteers. You may be responsible for directly funding or contributing to befriending schemes that depend on voluntary commitment. Or you may be linking with a specific voluntary sector organisation and jointly running a scheme in the community that relies

on voluntary effort for its survival.


Although some of the social care services in your area are likely to involve

volunteers, you may choose to develop volunteering further within your social services or local authority. Some public-sector organisations have already chosen to go down the volunteering path, including Somerset social services, Croydon social services, Portsmouth social services, West Sussex social services, the City of Sunderland social services and Bradford Metropolitan District Council (Bradford Community Development and Lifelong Learning Service).


The next section is primarily concerned with how you go about setting up a volunteering programme within your social services department.






  • Are there specific projects or  departments you’d like to involve volunteers in, and are there roles for them to complement your service?
  • How will they add value?
  • How will they help you to deliver your strategic plan and meet your objectives?
  • Have you consulted union representatives about the volunteer roles you envisage?
  • Do you have the available finances to invest in the good management of





If the previous section has whetted your appetite for involving volunteers in

your department, you’ll want to know how to get started and how to develop a

volunteering programme. In order to help you do this, a step-by-step programme is outlined below. These steps aim to help you focus your thinking on involving volunteers more directly in your social services department in terms of resources and structures. The last step concerns itself with best practice in volunteer management and is touched upon only briefly, as many books and guides already exist on best practice in volunteer management. It is suggested you use the ‘Help is at Hand’ section for further details and information.



Step 1: thinking time

This is the stage to think about whether you want to involve volunteers and,

if so, where you can place them in your organisation. First of all, it’s important

to decide if you actually want to involve volunteers. Try talking to peers and colleagues in other social services departments or NHS Trusts to help you

make your decision. You’ll need to ask:


  • Are there specific projects or departments you’d like to involve

            volunteers in, and are there roles for them to complement your service?

  • How will they add value?
  • How will they help you to deliver your strategic plan and meet

            your objectives?

  • Have you consulted union representatives about the volunteer roles

            you envisage?

  • Do you have the available finances to invest in the good management

            of volunteers?



Step 2: finding the resources

Your resources and budgets will be influential in determining the extent to which you involve volunteers and where you decide to place volunteers in your organisational structure. Consideration is given below on how you can equate the expenditure related to involving volunteers to the value that volunteers bring. This is based on details from the Volunteer Investment and Value Audit (VIVA)11, an audit based on research in small voluntary organisations and consultation with larger ones. Suggestions are then given on potential sources of money that can help you to deliver your volunteer strategy.


Consideration of the above can help you to calculate the economic value of involving volunteers. A word of caution is needed here, as this calculation does not take into account the quality of life benefits that volunteers bring. These always need to be considered alongside the economic values of volunteering, as they bring enrichment and quality to services that are not easily quantifiable.


Funding opportunities

Depending on where you plan to place volunteers within your organisation, you will need to decide whether you are going to ring-fence core social services funds or apply for specific grant money for specialised projects. You may decide to look at a combination of both through matched funding opportunities. Policy initiatives that have monies attached are a good way of accessing money for projects and for funding a volunteers manager post. Potential sources of funding are:


  • Children’s Fund
  • Quality Protects – through approaching a regional development QP Manager
  • Single Regeneration Budget
  • European Funding (example provided below)
  • Primary Care Trust budgets
  • Consortium on Opportunities for Volunteering (for voluntary-sector

            organisations only)

  • Community Fund (for voluntary sector-organisations only)
  • Department of Health matched Voluntary Service Manager funding for NHS Trusts and the personal social services (see ‘Help is at Hand’ section)
  • Millennium Volunteers Department of Education and Skills (DfES) money.


The example below from Somerset social services shows how European funding was secured for a young people’s project.


For further information about the way the EVS Programme operates in the UK contact Connect Youth International on 0207 389 4080.



Step 3: the model and the structure

When you have made a decision to involve volunteers, you will need to decide how volunteers will fit into the structure of your services. A diagram of an organisational chart is given in Appendix 1. Suggested models are given below based on those used by those social services departments that currently involve volunteers. You could choose either one or a combination of these approaches, or devise    

a model particular to your local circumstances. Possible options are to:


  • set up an in-house social services volunteering unit and employ volunteers managers to recruit, match, place, support and supervise volunteers in social service delivery
  • set up a corporate-wide volunteering unit to serve the needs of the local authority as a whole, including social services
  • ensure volunteering is integral in community liaison work by employing voluntary-sector and community liaison development officers to link with the community and voluntary sectors and to encourage volunteering and raise volunteering issues within the local authority
  • work closely with voluntary-sector volunteer development agencies such as local volunteer bureaux to recruit volunteers for specific in-house service provision.
  • work with specific voluntary-sector projects in partnerships that involve volunteers; for example, NCH (National Children’s Homes) or Barnardo’s on a young missing persons project.


The case studies in the next section provide illustrations of some of these models in practice.



Step 4: commitment to volunteering

Whatever models of volunteering you decide upon, you will need to make a public commitment to volunteering. Such a commitment requires you to have thought about the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of involving volunteers and suggests to your staff, volunteers and the public that you are taking volunteering seriously.

A good place to start is by reading At One with Volunteers, a joint Association

of Directors of Social Services (ADSS)/National Centre for Volunteering policy statement that is an endorsement of volunteering in social services. (Available from the National Centre for Volunteering – see the ‘Help is at Hand’ section

for details.)


You can go about making a public commitment to volunteering by:


  • writing a volunteering policy statement (go to for further details)
  • addressing volunteers in your local Compact and developing appropriate volunteering codes (go to for further details on developing local Compacts)
  • including volunteering in your community care plans and business plans
  • including volunteering and community participation as a performance target in your local authority’s public service agreement with the government
  • installing a ‘champion’ of volunteering on your board who has responsibility for volunteering
  • including best volunteering practice in service level agreements
  • including volunteering in the induction of new staff in your organisation
  • offering training and awareness seminars on volunteering
  • setting up an employee volunteering scheme for your employees
  • monitoring and evaluating volunteering in your social services department, with a commitment to reviewing your volunteering policy and strategy in

            line with the outcomes

  • locating volunteers managers in directorates that are able to adequately support, invest in and encourage volunteers
  • acknowledging volunteers’ commitment by attending a Volunteers Week or similar event.



Step 5: ensuring good volunteer practice


Once you have actively made a commitment to involving volunteers, you need

to ensure you implement best practice in volunteer management. Whoever is responsible for volunteers will be ideally placed to ensure that best practice is adhered to, whether they are volunteers managers, voluntary sector liaison development officers or other staff members (champions) with a remit for



If you are thinking about setting up an in-house volunteering scheme from scratch, it involves a good deal of planning. The Centre’s Good Practice Guide (see ‘Help is at Hand’ section) suggests working from back to front. Instead of thinking that recruiting volunteers is your first step, it is actually your last. What comes first is thinking, planning, organising and consulting. You can only recruit volunteers when everything else is in place. This may take between six and 18 months if volunteer projects or units are new, and volunteers managers will need the support of their senior managers in allowing adequate time to do this.


Even if you do not plan on setting up an in-house volunteering unit, the summary guidance below is useful knowledge for partnership working and is helpful when writing volunteering codes for local Compacts and for service

level agreements with other organisations.

Step 5.1: ensuring good volunteer practice – managing volunteers safely


Most volunteers enhance the lives of the clients they work with. But some may not be suited to working with vulnerable adults and children, and a tiny minority may pose a threat. However, there are ways in which you can help to minimise the risks:


Treat clients with dignity and respect

This means accepting that the welfare of your clients is your paramount concern, and affirming that threatening, violent, dishonest or degrading behaviour is always unacceptable. Include this principle in any written policy and have a

set of rules outlining the types of behaviour that are unacceptable.


Adopt consistent and effective recruitment and selection procedures

The key to safe recruitment is to apply your policy and procedures consistently. These are the main points to bear in mind:


Define the role -  be clear what the new volunteer will be expected to do.


Application form - this should enable you to collect all the information you need about your potential volunteer. It should help establish gaps in employment history which may be           significant.


Previous convictions - all applicants should be asked to declare any previous convictions or cautions and to confirm that there is no reason why they should not work with your client group.


Checking criminal records - if the potential volunteer will be working with children or vulnerable adults, you should contact the Criminal Records Bureau to access a criminal record check.


References - where possible, you should take up written references, preferably from at least two people who are not relatives, and follow these up verbally.  Explain the kind of work and ask specific questions. You should ask whether the referee has any concerns about the applicant working with your client group.


Trial period - this will enable you to assess the suitability of the  new volunteer.



Adopt work practices and codes of behaviour that minimise risks and protect both clients and workers


  • Plan and manage the work of your department in a way which minimises

            the opportunities for your clients to suffer harm. Everyone should be clear                   about their role, about what the department is trying to achieve, and about              the accepted codes of behaviour.

  • Provide your volunteers with support, supervision and relevant training.


Develop effective and consistent procedures for responding to accidents, complaints and alleged or suspected incidents of abuse.

Everyone should know how to respond if it is alleged that one of your clients

has been harmed or is at risk in any way. Make sure your procedures are clear to all volunteers.


Establish links with relatives and with other relevant organisations

Establish links with parents, relatives and carers and make sure they too are aware of your policies for protecting clients.


In March 2000 the Department of Health published new adult abuse consultation guidance, No Secrets: The Protection of Vulnerable Adults – guidance on the development and implementation of multi-agency policies and procedures.

This states that all local authority social services departments should co-ordinate local multi-agency codes of practice regarding the protection of vulnerable adults.These codes of practice should involve the local police and health services. Volunteers in both the voluntary and the public sector whose tasks include working with vulnerable adults will need to receive training in awareness of their local code of practice.


The above is only a very brief introduction to good practice in the safe involvement of volunteers. For more detailed guidance, you can obtain information sheets, booklets or a handbook, Safe and Alert, from the National Centre for Volunteering (see ‘Help is at Hand’ section).






Croydon Social Services Volunteering Unit


Croydon social services is an example of an in-house volunteering       unit exclusive to social services.


Croydon’s long-standing volunteering unit of 35 years is based in the social

services department, where a team of seven staff work to recruit, select, train, place and support volunteers. Volunteers are placed across the spectrum of social services work, from children and families teams, through to mental health, learning disabilities, disabilities and older people’s teams.


The volunteering unit adapts its practices to suit specific projects. For example, the independent visitor scheme has a compulsory six-session preparation course before volunteers are matched by the volunteers manager for children’s services. Preparation is important to ensure the volunteers have adequate information to equip them for this important role, which helps the local authority fulfil its duty to offer an independent visitor to the children and young people it looks after.


In addition to recruiting and placing volunteers, the volunteering unit is responsible for ensuring that both staff and volunteers have an induction. Including volunteering in the induction of paid employees ensures that volunteering is integral to the work and thinking of the paid social workers. In addition, the team manager maintains policies and procedures relating to good practice in volunteer management and manages the volunteering unit budget, which covers both staff costs and volunteer expenses.


The unit is located within the Adult Services Division, with line management responsibilities coming under the learning disabilities section. Funding for the unit comes from the core social services budget, with a contribution from the local health authority for volunteer involvement in mental health services.


Social services staff make a referral to the unit when they have identified a

volunteering opportunity. Volunteers are involved in different roles, ranging from befrienders for people with learning disabilities to independent visitors working

with children and young people. On occasions the unit will establish a service level agreement with a voluntary agency involving volunteers, such as Age Concern,

if staff have highlighted a need for support which requires a specialist input.


Volunteers are recruited from across the borough to encourage diversity. Croydon has been successful in recruiting volunteers by a variety of means, including word of mouth, articles in the local paper, presentations to schools and community groups and adverts on the council’s web site.




Bradford Community Development and Lifelong Learning Services (CD&LL)


The Community Development and Lifelong Learning Service at Bradford Metropolitan District Council is an example of a corporate-wide volunteering service serving the needs of the local authority as a whole, including social services.


Bradford’s volunteering unit has been in existence for 25 years. It presently

sits within the community development and lifelong learning team and is a corporate-wide unit overseeing volunteering practice across all the council’s departments. This means that all the council’s departments, not just social services, are encouraged to engage with volunteers. One of the benefits of this corporate-wide approach to volunteering is that closer partnerships are developed across the council’s departments.


Funding comes primarily from the local authority budget, with additional funds coming from government policy initiatives such as the Quality Protects programme. It is hoped that some future funds could come from partnerships with local Primary Care Trusts. The budget that the community development team receives is then divided up between each of the council’s departments that involve volunteers.


The unit consists of a service development manager and nine volunteers managers who work across the local authority to promote volunteering, disseminate best practice, and build and maintain relationships. The volunteering team recruits, trains, places and supports volunteers within the authority and also engages with health trusts and voluntary sector organisations that involve volunteers in their work.



The Wednesday Group


The Wednesday Group is a weekly activity group for young people between

the ages of 11 and 16 who are at risk of offending or of coming into care. The Wednesday Group offers access to a variety of activities for these young people, which focus on social skills while providing them with consistent boundaries. Social services staff, in conjunction with the volunteering unit in the Community Development and Lifelong Learning Team, run the group.


Eight volunteers take part in the group and work directly with the yo#ung people alongside paid staff. They attend a meeting before each term begins to evaluate previous sessions and to plan activities for the forthcoming ones. These meetings act as supervision and support, as they allow both paid staff and volunteers to discuss how relationships are developing with the group members. Volunteers are involved with transporting the young people to the group, assisting with activities, running sessions and acting as a link person between parents and staff.

As the Wednesday Group has links to other departments in the council

such as the recreation department, there are plenty of opportunities for young people to get involved in more adventurous activities such as canoeing and rock climbing. Links with the Outward Bound Trust have also allowed the Wednesday Group to enjoy four-day stays in one of the Trust’s activity centre’s to participate in custom-made programmes.


This highly successful project has had very positive feedback from young people and has whetted the appetite of many volunteers to take up a career in social work.


City of Sunderland social services


City of Sunderland social services provides an example of a model that ensures volunteering is integrated into both its community liaison work and its in-house service delivery.


City of Sunderland social services, which is currently in the Social Services Inspectorate’s top 10 social services for good practice, made a commitment in 2000 to involving more volunteers. Its senior staff, in particular its divisional managers, are convinced that volunteers bring  ‘added value’ to its mainstream service provision. The fact that Sunderland has ‘champions’ of volunteering among its staff probably accounts for the fact that funding for volunteer-involving projects in social services comes from the core social services budget.


The model adopted by Sunderland is one in which a planning officer (voluntary sector) has been appointed by social services to build relationships with key external organisations and to promote volunteering both within these organisations and within social services itself. The planning officer is accountable to the assistant head of service for partnerships and policy and to the development manager.


As part of this process, a local Compact has been developed with voluntary organisations which care for and support vulnerable people in the city and financial assistance has been made available to voluntary and community organisations that support vulnerable people. Service level agreements are also in place with voluntary organisations that provide an agreed level of service to those assessed as in need. An annual voluntary sector conference, co-ordinated by social services, provides an opportunity to discuss issues pertinent to volunteering and to relationships between the sectors.


Where there is no involvement from the voluntary sector, social services involve volunteers in its own services. Where this is the case, a volunteer co-ordinator recruits, supports and supervises the volunteers. The co-ordinator provides an initial training and induction for the volunteers, but further training relevant to the volunteers’ placement is carried out by the social services department’s own training department.


Sunderland social services has been recruiting, matching and placing

volunteers for the ‘MAX Project’, an educational project with looked-after

children who have been identified as requiring additional help to improve their educational progress. Set up after discussions with the National Centre for Volunteering as a Quality Protects pilot project initiative, the social services department is currently seeking funds to incorporate the project into its

ongoing mainstream provision.



Sunderland Volunteer Mentoring Project


The City of Sunderland’s social services and youth offending service have been successfully involving volunteers for three years in a volunteer mentoring project. The project manager recruits volunteers (particularly young people) to work alongside the young people who are referred to the youth offending service. Currently there are 41 volunteer mentors engaged in one-to-one mentoring relationships with young people, 23 of which have lasted six months or more, with 331 young people having been referred to the project in the period from February 2000 to April 2002.


The mentoring relationship benefits young people in various ways, offering them positive adult role models, consistency, skill development and flexibility. The mentor benefits from continued self-development, attaining qualifications and voluntary experience, while organisations benefit by engaging with members

of their local community through informal contact, enabling community capacity-building to take place.




Westbank League of Friends


Westbank League of Friends in Exeter is an example of a voluntary-sector

volunteer-involving organisation working in partnership with a Primary Care Trust (PCT) by providing volunteers to enhance the PCT services.


The Westbank League of Friends was set up in 1986 as a home visiting scheme to provide additional care and support for the rural communities on the west bank of the river Exe. It is run by local people who train volunteers to provide a caring service in addition to the care provided by the rest of the Primary Health Care Team (PHCT). The needs of patients are matched with the skills and training of the volunteers by the volunteers manager.


The volunteers are asked to attend relevant training courses that are held over several weeks and include talks from the volunteers manager, the local doctor, and other local practitioners such as a physiotherapist and social worker. Other courses cover issues such as dealing with patients who are terminally ill, what to do if someone falls, and how to support carers who deal with patients with dementia.


The patients’ needs vary, ranging from a young family striving to cope with

a chronically sick or disabled child, through to the elderly infirm. This often

determines the type of support required, as it can be either long-term befriending and support of patients and their families, or practical help in the short-term such as gardening, writing letters, shopping etc.


Patients are referred and accepted from many places within the catchment area, including neighbouring medical practices, local hospitals and Devon Social Services, as well as the Westbank Medical Practice.


The Westbank League of Friends provides different initiatives that have been set up to help deliver the support needed by patients. These initiatives take the shape of a home visiting scheme; carers, bereavement, and physiotherapy groups; provision of day care; support for young and adult carers; family time groups and parenting courses; active lifestyle courses and a carers identification scheme.


The home visiting scheme involves 85 trained volunteers providing care and support for patients in their own home, with an average of 130 visits taking place each month.


Beneficiaries of the scheme include young families in times of stress, the chronically ill, elderly, disabled people and the terminally ill. Volunteers provide a range of support to suit the individual’s needs. This help can take the form of both practical and emotional support, such as helping chronically ill, elderly and disabled people with gardening, decorating, collecting prescriptions and filling in forms, or tasks such as administering eye-drops and helping with speech therapy exercises for people who might live alone. An addition to the practical benefits is the emotional support that individuals derive from volunteer involvement. This is also important, as volunteers can bring companionship and friendship that makes a difference to the quality of life for people who may be housebound or have restricted movement.



Partnership with health and social services


This began as a home-visiting scheme, with a part-time unpaid co-ordinator.  However, as the scheme grew the League persuaded the local health authority to provide an office space and to make available a disused building for a community care centre. The centre was renovated with a substantial grant from the Community Fund. Social services and the health authority now fund some of the work of the League based on three-year contracts, thus enabling more stability that allows them to concentrate their efforts on extending their services.  Grants from Devon social services department, the local Primary Care Trusts, the Community Fund, the Department of Health and the Active Communities Unit provide the bulk of the funds, and fundraising events and sponsorship supplement these.


The volunteers manager is viewed as an integral part of the PHCT and attends weekly referral meetings. A co-operative relationship exists between social services, the Primary and Community Healthcare Teams and the League, and on alternate weeks their core planning group meets to co-ordinate services ensuring that the best use is made of scarce resources. Voluntary help fills in the gaps to ensure that patients requiring these services receive 24-hour care.



Exeter Primary Care Trust is funding a joint project with Devon social services to extend Leagues of Friends across the whole of the Exeter area. Currently 10 practices have followed the example set by Westbank and it is hoped to set up similar schemes to serve the remaining nine practices in the next two years.




Good Practice


The Good Practice Guide, The National Centre for Volunteering 2002 (2nd edition).

Offers practical advice and information for everyone working with volunteers.


Safe and Alert, The National Centre for Volunteering 2000.

Updated and revised good practice advice on volunteers working with

vulnerable clients.


No Secrets: The protection of vulnerable adults. Guidance on the

development and implementation of multi-agency policies and procedures

Available free of charge from the Department of Health, PO BOX 777, London SE1 6XH, or by telephoning the NHS response line on 0541 555 455, or by visiting the

Department of Health website on


Volunteers and Mental Health Befriending, Alex Parish, The National Centre for Volunteering 1998, a report of a three-year nationwide pilot study on

volunteers befriending people with mental health problems in four NHS Trusts.


Meeting your Aims through Involving Volunteers, The National Centre for

Volunteering and Local Government Association.

Booklet encouraging social service departments to think about volunteering which

can be downloaded free of charge from the Centre’s web site


At One with Volunteers, The National Centre for Volunteering and the Association of Directors of Social Services.

This joint publication is a policy statement endorsing volunteering in social services departments and can be downloaded from the Centre’s web site


Getting it Right from the Start, The National Centre for Volunteering.

A good practice booklet showing you how to go about writing a volunteer policy. Available from the Centre’s web site on


Guidelines for relationships between volunteers and paid workers in the health and personal social services (Drain Guidelines).

These guidelines can help you when planning and developing roles for volunteers that complement the roles of paid workers. Guidelines can be downloaded from the

Centre’s web site on


Employee Volunteering: The Guide Liza Ramrayka 2001.

An in-depth and accessible resource that shows how the public, private and voluntary sectors can benefit from employee volunteering programmes and gives practical advice on setting them up.


A full list of the Centre’s publications can be seen at


Free publications can be downloaded and paid-for publications can

be ordered online from this site.





Department of Health, Home Office, Department for Education and Employment, Working Together to Safeguard Children. London: The Stationery Office, 1999.


Department of Health. The Protection of Children Act 1999. London: Department of Health, 1999.


Home Office, Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 – Protection of

Children Guidance. London: Home Office, 2000.


CSV Reports on The State of the Volunteering Nation, CSV Reports on 9 April 2002.

This report from CSV discusses why the nation needs to open the doors of the public services to volunteers.


The Compact Volunteering: a Code of Good Practice, Active Community Unit.

This Code of Good Practice sets out an agenda of undertakings for both the government and the voluntary and community sector in England on good practice for volunteering. Copies can be obtained from or or


Volunteer Investment and Value Audit (VIVA) Katherine Gaskin CRSP and

Joseph Rowntree Association 1997.

VIVA is a way of assessing the total amount that an organisation spends on its volunteers, the financial value of volunteers’ work, and the relationship between the two.


Web sites

CSV (Community Service Volunteers) is a UK charity dedicated to giving everyone

the chance to play an active part in their community, through volunteering, training, education and the media.

The ADSS represents all directors of social services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and brings breadth and experience to discussions on all policy, management

and professional issues arising within social care.

The LGA represents every local authority in England and Wales. It seeks to promote

local authories with government, the political parties and other decision-makers and

is committed to leading a programme of reform and improvement throughout local government.

The Department for Education and Skills provides current information regarding

government initiatives, research information, funding opportunities and future strategies.

Web site database for volunteering opportunities including those in health and social care. Organisations can register with to advertise volunteer opportunities.

The Treasury is the department responsible for formulating and putting into effect the

UK government’s financial and economic policy.

Millennium Volunteers (MV) was launched by the government in January 1999, with

a budget of £48 million. Organisations are given contracts for up to three years for

projects that offer young people in the 16–24 age range the opportunity to volunteer

their time for the benefit of others.

The National Centre for Volunteering’s very comprehensive web site contains information on good practice, publications, training and research.

The National Centre for Volunteering’s web pages relating to volunteering in social care.





Department of Health

Matched funding opportunities exist for Voluntary Service Manager posts in health and social care, provided the local statutory body agrees, for the years 2002/3 and 2003/4. Contact Policy Manager, Grants Unit, Department of Health, Area 609, Wellington House, 133–155 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UG Tel: 020 7972 4093.


Consortium on Opportunities for Volunteering (COV)

COV provides grants and development support to local voluntary organisations that involve volunteers in the delivery of health and social care services in England.

For more information contact COV, 18 Devonshire Street, London W1G 7AU

Tel: 020 7323 5354


Active Community Unit (ACU)

Room 238, Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

Tel: 020 7273 4000   website:


Community Fund (National Lottery Charities Board)

St Vincent House, 16 Suffolk Street, London, SW1Y 4NL

Tel: 020 7747 5300   Helpline: 0845 791 9191




Useful organisations


ADSS (Association of Directors of Social Services)

145 King Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 9XY

contact administrator Anne Martin on

Tel 020 8741 8147   Fax 020 8753 5739

The Association of Directors of Social Services represents every director of social

services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


LGA (Local Government Association)

Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ

Tel 020 7664 3000   Fax 020 7664 3030   Email:

The LGA represents every local authority in England and Wales. It seeks to promote

local authories with government, the political parties and other decision-makers and

is committed to leading a programme of reform and improvement throughout local



CSV (Community Service Volunteers)

237 Pentonville Road, London N1 9NJ

Tel 020 7278 6601   Fax 020 7833 0149

CSV creates opportunities for people to play an active part in the life of their community. It tackles social exclusion through volunteering, education, the environment, training and the media. CSV provides volunteering in a range of health and social care settings.


Councils for Voluntary Service

Contact the National Association of CVS (NACVS) and ask for local details:

National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS),

3rd Floor

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