Volunteering for Employability

Have you ever thought about volunteering as a way for someone to gain new skills, and increase employability? Could you help someone?

From Volunteering to Employability is a new project that helps connect people that are trying to find work with charities that need volunteers, and we’re looking for organisations that can help.

How it works
It works closely with Job Centre Plus and  job clubs, and engages a variety of jobseekers. We talk to people interested about the skills they could get from volunteering, how those skills will help them in the workplace, and what type of volunteering might help them find their ideal job.

Volunteering is, by definition, voluntary, and this project is no different. If referred through the Job Centre there are no penalties for claimants who do not want to volunteer, so everyone involved will have chosen to take part.

Sometimes it differs from normal volunteering in that placements on the project might be time limited – anything from 2-8 weeks – rather than indefinite, and this guarantees no loss of benefits. They can be longer though if the Job Centre agrees. If someone is  interested we’ll help try and find a volunteering opportunity that suits them and their circumstances, and they can go through your normal volunteer recruitment process so you are sure they’re the right person.

To those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance the volunteering programme can be a placement of up to 25-30 hours to give them a real taste of the working world; to those that have other issues and that claim other benefits the placement is more flexible, depending on their needs. This project will support both types of volunteering, and will be designed to meet the needs of both the organisation and the individual.

The benefits to the host

  • A volunteer, hopefully motivated in order to get new skills and experience.
  • The initial volunteering may be time-limited, but the hope is people will continue to volunteer in some way.
  • We’ll also help support the host organisation if needed with any policies or additional admin, and the Job Centre can sometimes contribute to travel or other specific costs.

The benefits to the volunteer

  • An opportunity to gain news skills and experience, and help a worthwhile cause.
  • An introduction to volunteering, which they will hopefully keep up after the project.
  • Additional help, such as helping them use volunteer experience on a CV, in job applications and interviews, and how to find volunteering opportunities in the future.

Useful to know

  • This was a project pilotted in Redditch and is now operating in Bromsgrove. We’re aware that new ideas don’t always develop as planned, so we have a lot of flexibility built in. If one part of the project works well we can build on it; if there are support needs we haven’t anticipated they can be developed. If the model we’ve described doesn’t suit your organisation, please get in touch – we may be able to help anyway.
  • We’re a charity working on behalf of other charities and voluntary groups. For some jobseekers there is still a perception that work experience is “working for free” for businesses. This project is a way of getting over those preconceptions, by using volunteering to support good causes and gain valuable experience.

Redditch BCSantander Foundation

The project is run by us at Bromsgrove and Redditch Network (BARN), an independent charity which also runs the local Volunteer Centre. It is funded by the Santander Foundation in Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Council in Redditch.

Email volunteer@barn.org.uk if you’re an organisation and would like to find out more. 

Are you someone that might be interested in going on the scheme? Find out more here