For most of us, the first step towards volunteering with a group of people you don't know is a big one to take. Will I fit in? Will I enjoy it? Will I do something silly? Will I be ignored?
Most of the people that volunteer with TCV for the first time do so on their own. In 2015 in the South West of England, 32% of our volunteers were women, 16% aged over 65 and 8% aged between 18 and 25, with 14% describing themselves as having a disability and 9% as having a non-White British ethnicity. In fact, 6,993 people volunteered with TCV for the first time in 2015, including 142 in the South West, so you'll be in good company.
I can't guarantee you'll enjoy yourself if you join in too, but I can say you'll be welcomed, wanted, needed and encouraged to the best of my team's ability. To help answer some of the questions we're often asked, I've put together the information below. I hope you find it useful.
Paul Forrest-Jameson: Operations Leader: England West
We only ask that you have a conversational understanding of English and a basic level of physical fitness. We try to provide a range of different activities to suit everyone on each of our projects. In fact, keeping fit is one of the main reasons people volunteer with us, especially with our Green Gyms. If there’s anything especially difficult or unusual about the work we’re planning to do or the location where we’re doing it, we mention this in the project’s description. We also try to provide details about the availability of toilets too. However, please let us know first if you have any particular needs or limitations, to help us keep you safe and ensure you enjoy your time with us.
You won't need any special skills to join in, other than a willingness to get involved. There isn't an interview process and we don't normally ask for a commitment from anyone for more than a day at a time. We provide on-site, informal training and guidance as part of our delivery of projects, to ensure that everyone can make a personal contribution to them and learn through this process too.
We will provide you with all the tools and equipment needed, including suitable work gloves. We also provide biscuits and refreshments and we're working towards ensuring all our our tea, coffee and herbal tea is organic and Fairtrade too. You will need to bring your own packed lunch; a lot of our work sites are not near any shops. Please come prepared for the likely weather conditions on the day and wear suitable work clothes. We recommend sturdy boots, long-sleeved tops and long trousers, with a sun hat if necessary. If you require them, bring along your own waterproofs, insect repellent, sun block, camera, money and personal medication (including pain killers).
All our projects are run by at least one, fully trained Project Leader. Our Leaders all have first aid qualifications and are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked. All our activities are formally risk assessed. We provide public and personal liability insurance for you while you are taking part in any of our projects. TCV is presently reviewing its approach to safeguarding and working with young people, vulnerable adults and offenders. Any changes we make as a result of this will be communicated.
Our projects are suitable for most people aged 18 or over. However, we can sometimes accept people under this age. If you're under the age of 18 or want to come along with someone who is, please let us know first. We also run some activities especially for young people. We make this clear in these projects' descriptions.
We fund them on your behalf from a range of sources. In some cases we ask the land owners/managers you do work for to make a contribution. In others we raise money via making successful applications for grants from trusts, local authorities, lotteries or the Government. We also receive donations from companies and individuals. For many training courses and workshop we ask those taking part to contribute towards the costs too, but everything else we seek to provide to you for free.
Every project we run has a named person responsible for it, so she/he should be your first point of contact if you want to know anything. For more general enquiries, please contact the local Operations Leader.