Frequently Asked Questions - Community Volunteering

How can I find an opportunity specific to my interest?

To find an opportunity specific to your interest, you should head over to our directory where you can filter the opportunities according to category, time commitment, location, or a skill you are interested in developing.

 I would like to do something connected to my course.

This is great. Volunteering can perfectly compliment your course. To find something suitable, go to the directory and under departments choose your home department.

I do not know if I will be in London during the summer. Can I still commit to a regular role?

You should always ask your supervisor at your organisation. If it is early in the year they will certainly be happy to have you, but even if it is closer to summer, special arrangements might be made.

Are there organisations that are flexible with regards to timings if my schedule changes every week?

Yes. There are many organisations and opportunities in our directory that do not require you to commit to a specific time every week and that offer flexible schedules. On the directory, under Time commitment choose Flexible, Short Task, Short Term, or One-Off to browse roles that can accommodate a changing timetable.

Where do I find One-Off opportunities?

One-Off opportunities are a great way to get introduced to volunteering and try out many different roles. In the directory, under Time commitment, choose One-Off to browse our selection of special volunteering events. One-off events also appear in the What’s On Calendar, and you can get a great overview of them by clicking Volunteering to filter for our events.

I am under 18. Can I still volunteer?

Yes. For various reasons, there are some roles that only take volunteers over 18, however, there are plenty of roles suitable for those under 18. On each opportunity page, there will be a compulsory question ‘Accepts volunteers under 18?’ where you can check the specific organisation's policy.

Will I receive a certificate at the end of the year if I volunteer? How do I sign up for one?

If you need a certificate that proves your volunteering, we can certainly give you one. Just email volunteering@ucl.ac.uk and ask for one. At the end of each year, we also circulate a form to all registered volunteers where you can sign up for a certificate. If you have volunteered for an extended period of time, your volunteering will also be included in your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) when you finish your studies.

What happens if I volunteered in my previous years but forgot to fill out the form to receive a certificate? Can I still receive one?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide certificates in retrospect. However, we will be happy to provide you with a document that confirms your volunteering. Just email volunteering@ucl.ac.uk and ask us for one. Please state your course, when you volunteered, and for whom so that we can find you in the system easier. If you are an alumni, also state your period of study and department, please.

I am volunteering outside of UCL. Can I still get it included in my HEAR?

Unfortunately, we can only account for volunteering that has been done with one of our contracted charity partners. However, you could always ask your supervisor at the organisation you volunteer for to partner with UCL. Send them our Info for Recruiters page or have them email us at volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

I am already a volunteer and would love my organisation’s opportunities to be featured on the UCL website. What do I need to do?

This is great. We would love to have your organisation on the books and advertise their opportunities. Send them our Info for Recruiters page to see if they are eligible, or have them email us at volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

I am on a TIER 4 Visa. Does volunteering count towards the 20 hours I am allowed to work a week?

No. Volunteering does not count towards the 20 hours/week limit that applies to paid work if you are on a TIER 4 Visa.

I had a great time volunteering and would love to write a feature on it. Who do I contact?

This is great. We love to hear your experiences and are always looking for students’ stories on their volunteering. If you would like to give us an interview either verbally, or in writing, contact volunteering@ucl.ac.uk and let us know where you volunteered and that you would like to share your experience. Read other students’ stories to get inspired here. If you would like to share your story in another format, do share your ideas through volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

 Where do I sign up for the newsletter?

Really glad you are interested in regular updates about the latest in volunteering! Sign up to our newsletter here.

I clicked on a link in a newsletter but I am unable to access the page.

Sorry about that. Chances are, the opportunity that you clicked on has already expired since the newsletter was sent out, or the link was faulty. In any case, do email us at volunteering@ucl.ac.uk so that we can investigate.

 I cannot find an opportunity that suits me. What should I do?

If there is really nothing that has sparked your interest but you would really like to volunteer, then Student-Led Volunteering might be the place for you. Here, you can start your own volunteering project just the way you imagined it, and we can help you with organisational and financial support.

Do you also have international volunteering opportunities for students?

The Students’ Union UCL cannot recommend any particular international volunteering opportunities, as we are unable to verify the quality of the placements offered or the soundness of the management. To find out more about where we stand on international volunteering and what you should consider before applying, head over to our International Volunteering Page.

I am an external student interested in one of the opportunities the UCL Students' Union is advertising. Can I apply?

Our service caters for registered UCL students only. We cannot share any details with you, however, the information that is publicly available on our webpage is yours to use. We suggest going directly to the website of the organisation you are interested in and getting in touch with them from there. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions - Before and on Placement

 I found an opportunity I like but I cannot find the details to apply. Who do I turn to?

If you found an opportunity you like and there are no explicit links included in the opportunity description on where to apply, you should press the Express Interest button on the right side of the page. Note that this will only work if you are logged in as a student. Organisations regularly receive the list of students who have expressed interest and they should be promptly in touch about next steps.

If it has been over a week and you have not heard anything, please email volunteering@ucl.ac.uk. Please include a link to the opportunity you applied to and as much details as possible about when you applied and through what means - this will help us process your inquiry quicker.

 How do I nail my application for a volunteering role?

A good application can help you land your dream volunteering role. Read the Students’ Union’s advice on how to nail an application and an interview.

 Some organisations require references. Who is an acceptable referee?

You should ask your organisation to specify this for you, however, acceptable referees normally include your personal tutor, any academic who taught you at UCL, and your previous/current supervisors at any volunteering or paid placement.

What if I take on a responsibility and then realise that I cannot commit?

When you have taken on a responsibility, the organisation is counting on you and you should let them know as early as possible that you will not be able to commit, so that they can look for someone new and minimise the operational impact. Our charity partners appreciate that UCL students have lots of academic commitments, but they cannot read your mind.

Who is my first point of contact if I cannot make a volunteering appointment?

This should always be your supervisor directly at the organisation you volunteer for. Chances are if you have an appointment with a charity you will have already talked to them and have been assigned a supervisor. Let them know promptly so that they can work around the delay/fallout of a volunteer. If you only email us it might be too late by the time the information gets to the charity.

Will my travel costs be reimbursed when volunteering for a community organisation?

Yes. We require all of our Partner Organisations to agree to certain Service Standards before we advertise their roles, and this includes reimbursing travel expenses to and from placement, and lunch expenses if the volunteering is a full day. For some one-off events the Students’ Union will cover your travel expenses. Please see details on how to claim back travel expenses here.

Am I insured when I am volunteering?

Yes. We require all of our Partner Organisations to agree to certain Service Standards before we advertise their roles, and this includes accepting full liability for volunteers on placement through a sufficient insurance policy.

How can I share my volunteering journey with other students?

If you would like to share your volunteering experience, we would love to have you for a student profile interview. If you would like to give us an interview either verbally, or in writing, contact volunteering@ucl.ac.uk and let us know where you volunteered and that you would like to share your experience. Read other students’ stories to get inspired here. If you would like to share your story in another format, do share your ideas through volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

I have a problem with my organisation. Who do I turn to?

We are really sorry to hear that you have a problem with your organisation. You should flag this to us at the first instance so that we can investigate it further. If you have any concerns at all, please email volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

Frequently Asked Questions - DBS Check

What is a DBS check?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, and it is a government body responsible for checking people’s criminal records. A DBS Check might be needed if you are working with children, young people, or vulnerable adults. There are various types of DBS checks and your organisation or SLP will always tell you which one you need and how to get it. If they require you to get one, they will also pay for it.

 Do I need a DBS check?

It depends on the role you are volunteering in and whether your organisation needs you to get one. A DBS Check might be needed if you are working with children, young people, or vulnerable adults. There are various types of DBS checks and your organisation or SLP will always tell you which one you need and how to get it. If they require you to get one, they will also pay for it.

 How do I get a DBS check? Is a DBS check free?

If your organisation requires you to complete a DBS Check they should supply you with all the guidance on how to apply for one, and they should cover all expenses involved.

What do I need for a DBS check?

If you need to get a DBS Check you will need to provide identification documents. However, the number and type of documentation needed to get a DBS will depend on the type of Check you need. If you need a DBS Check, your organisation will know what type, and will be best placed to advise you on the details of what you need.

If you need a DBS for volunteering on a Student-Led Project, please read our guidance on how to obtain a DBS check and fill in this webform.

I need a DBS check, but only have one form of ID (e.g. I don’t have a driving licence, BRP, etc.). Can I still get a DBS?

The type and number of ID documents required for a DBS check will largely depend on the type of DBS you need, if you need one at all. The best thing to do is contact your supervisor at your organisation and ask about the details.

If you need a DBS for volunteering on a Student-Led Project, please read our guidance on how to obtain a DBS check and fill in this webform.

 Where do I book a DBS document check?

If you need a DBS for volunteering with a community organisation, your supervisor is best placed to advise you on where to obtain it. Please note that we do not normally handle DBS checks for volunteers with partner organisations.

If you need a DBS for volunteering on a Student-Led Project, please read our guidance on how to obtain a DBS check and fill in this webform.

Frequently Asked Questions - Covid-19

Please note that the Student’s Union follows the latest government and UCL guidance on Covid-related practice. However, our partners might have divergent practices and you should always check with them about vaccination, masks, and other precautionary practices.

Are there restrictions on volunteering after 27 January 2022?

Following the Government’s latest advice, after 27 January 2022 there are no Covid-19-related restrictions on public life. However, organisations might have their own set of rules that still apply in spite of the lifting of rules. This might especially be true for organisations whose beneficiaries are vulnerable, such as the elderly, or those in hospitals. In each opportunity, you will find Covid-related notice under the ‘What measures have you put in place to ensure volunteers’ safety during COVID-19?’ which is compulsory to fill out for all organisations. When in doubt, always double-check with your supervisor.

Can I volunteer if I am not fully vaccinated?

Yes. In the UK, there are no nationwide restrictions that apply to those not fully vaccinated, however, you should always check with the organisation you are volunteering for if they have any additional rules.

Are there remote volunteering opportunities?

Yes. Covid showed us just how great online volunteering is, and while in-person opportunities are returning, online volunteering is here to stay. Go to the directory and under Categories choose Online Volunteering or click Browse online volunteering on the top of the page.

What measures are taken to make sure that volunteering is safe?

Your safety is of utmost importance to us and we would not advertise any roles that are not Covid-safe. To ensure that organisations make the necessary steps to make volunteering safe we ask them to answer the ‘What measures have you put in place to ensure volunteers’ safety during COVID-19?’ question when publishing roles on our website. You can read their policies under each opportunity to familiarise yourself with the organisations’ measures. You can also get in touch with the charity before applying to see what they are doing to keep volunteers safe. Lastly, you are always welcome to wear a mask on placement if you wish so.

Are masks provided where wearing them is compulsory?

Since the 27th of January 2022, masks are no longer compulsory in public spaces in the UK. If an organisation still requires you to wear them, they should supply you with masks, however, you should always double-check with your supervisor before leaving for your placement. If you need a mask, we can also supply you with one in our office at 25 Gordon Street, however, please let us know in advance that you will require one.

Have a question related to Student-Led Projects and Volunteering? Head over to this database.