Our volunteers are an integral part of the team, and provide telephone, email and face-to-face support to over 1000 Carers. As well as working alongside staff in the office they support the team through outreach, fundraising and other opportunities.
“Volunteering for Carers Link has increased my confidence and taught me new skills. I have achieved things I never thought possible”
“I have made lots of new friends since joining Carers Link as a volunteer, and I also feel that I am putting something back into the community”
Volunteering can be very rewarding, and we value every contribution of time and skills made by our volunteers. Feedback from volunteers tells us that they feel they benefit from -
- Opportunities to meet people
- Meeting volunteers socially
- Being part of a lively team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers
- Learning new skills and building on existing ones
- Training opportunities according to their chosen role(s)
- A sense of achievement from helping others
- Gaining confidence and increasing self esteem
- Meaningful use of their time
- Opportunities to attend volunteer support meetings
- Availability of travel and other out-of-pocket expenses
Twenty of our volunteers came along to a Festive Get Together where they enjoyed lunch, entertainment from Bearsden Academy pupils and were presented with certificates. This group of 20 volunteers between them had donated 10,543 hours since starting with Carers Link.
At the time of writing (December 2015) we have 72 active volunteers, if you are inspired by what you have seen so far, please click on the current opportunities tab to see what you could do.
Stage 1 - Have an informal chat with Fiona
Chatting with Fiona Farris, our Volunteers Coordinator, gives you the opportunity to ask any questions and discuss the range of volunteering opportunities that Carers Link has. To arrange a meeting you can contact Fiona either by calling Freephone 0800 975 2131 or by email.
Stage 2 – Complete an Application Form
After you've had a chat with Fiona you will be asked to fill out an application form so that we can get to know you and to place you appropriately.
Stage 3 – We will check your References
On the application form we ask you to provide the details of two people who know you well, who are willing to fill out our reference questionnaire. They need to be able to give a good indication of what skills and attributes you have, and will also be asked to comment on such things as reliability, punctuality and your ability to work with others.
Stage 4 – Keeping everyone safe
As part of our recruitment process, every volunteer will be asked to complete a criminal declaration form, depending on your chosen volunteer role/s, you may be required to complete a PVG (protection of vulnerable groups) form. Please do not worry about this process, as we must ensure that all staff and volunteers complete this procedure to ensure the safety of our carers, staff and volunteers. Having a criminal record would not necessarily stop you from volunteering - this would depend on the volunteer role that interests you, together with the circumstances and background of any offence. More information is contained within our Recruitment Policy
Stage 5 – Attend our Information Sessions
If you volunteer with us you will be required to attend some preparatory information sessions. These will be conducted in a very informal manner and at a time to suit you. Sessions will include: Information about Carers Link and the issues affecting Carers; Communication Skills, Confidentiality, Do’s and Don’ts etc. The sessions are informative, interactive, and fun.
Congratulations - You will now be able to start volunteering.
Do I need qualifications?
You don't need any formal qualifications to volunteer with Carers Link, however having an interest in people, patience, skills in listening and the ability to communicate with people is essential, as is - in some situations - a good sense of humour! For all volunteer roles you will also need to be reliable, a good timekeeper and trustworthy.
How much time will I need to commit?
This depends on what voluntary opportunity you are involved in and on how much time you can give to Carers Link. Most volunteers commit to 2-3 hours each week, however some volunteers volunteer fortnightly. We try to ensure that all volunteer roles are flexible and can fit around your time and commitments. We also have a pool of volunteers who can be called upon on an 'ad hoc' basis to help with large mailshots etc.
Where will I be volunteering?
This also depends on the type of volunteering you are involved with. For example, our Carers Call volunteers and other office type roles are based in our offices in Milngavie, whereas most volunteering takes place in your local area or throughout East Dunbartonshire. If you need to travel, your expenses will be reimbursed.
Are there expenses?
We believe that volunteering is open to anyone (see our Equal Opportunities Statement) and that the cost of travel or taking part in activities should not prevent you from volunteering. All travel expenses are reimbursed for volunteering activities as well as for attending support meetings, training, information sessions and any other events organised by Carers Link.
What about references?
You will be required to provide the details of two people (not relatives) from whom references can be sought in order for us to get to know you better. For nearly all volunteer roles a Disclosure will be necessary (formerly known as a ‘Police Check’). If you refuse permission for these checks we will not be able to accept you as volunteer with Carers Link.
Am I insured for my voluntary work?
Volunteers are insured for any voluntary activity that Carers Link asks them to be involved in. Volunteers are insured through our Insurance Policies for Public Liability and Professional Indemnity. Under the former, legal liability to third parties for damage to their property or bodily injury, illness or disease is covered. Claims are not paid if the injury consists solely of illness or disease or if the injury results from any physical condition or infirmity that was already known about. Full copies of these Insurance Policies are held by Carers Link and are available to view on request.
What training will I receive?
We appreciate that providing support to carers is rewarding but that sometimes it can be stressful, however there are various training opportunities to equip you with the skills to meet the requirements of your volunteering role(s).
You will need to attend an 'Induction to Carers Link' information session, and thereafter information sessions specific to your support roles within the organisation. We aim to make these sessions informative, interesting, and fun and they are a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and discuss experiences. Where possible these flexible sessions will be tailored to the individual needs of volunteers.
The amount of training you receive will depend upon which type of volunteering role you become involved in. Awareness Raising volunteers usually attend a half-day training session, whereas volunteers providing information or emotional support will usually attend basic training over at least a day in order to provide enough skills and knowledge to get started.
We encourage volunteers to attend internal and external training specific to their role(s). We have access to a wide range of training courses such as ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), SMHFA (Scottish Mental Health First Aid), Bereavement training, First Aid courses and condition-specific training. Additional appropriate training will also be offered from time to time.
How will I be supported?
- Staff are always on hand to offer support and guidance during your time in the office, and are available to chat on the phone following visits or group support events.
- The Volunteers Co-ordinator will meet with you for a planned individual support session at least twice a year, or more often if required.
- You will also be expected to attend and take part in regular team support sessions; there will be at least three per year.
- Debriefing will take place at the end of each session; this is essential to ensure that you are not leaving the premises feeling anxious about your volunteering or about anyone that you have supported.
- Carers Link strives to be an equal opportunities organisation. Our premises are wheelchair accessible, have a wheelchair accessible toilet, a lift and a portable induction loop system. We can provide our printed materials in large print, audio format and electronically.
Providing telephone support - Carers Call - Volunteers provides carers with regular telephone or email contact from our offices in Milngavie. Each carer receiving this type of support is contacted regularly by a volunteer for a chat about how things are going, which gives them the chance to share how they are feeling and for volunteers to answer questions or provide support.
Carer Cafe - Carers Cafés offer a sociable environment where carers can relax in a friendly atmosphere and meet others in a similar situation. Carers can swap tips and ideas and share their stories of caring. As a Carers Café Buddy you will be assisting the Community Support Coordinator to facilitate the Carers Café.
Emergency Planning - Volunteers will meet with carers face to face in either a Café, a Carer’s own home or at a mutually suitable venue and together they will explore and discuss the planning process, making it easier to complete the Emergency Plan (or Future or Transitional Plan). During the process, the volunteer will form a listening/trusting relationship with the carer. The completion of an emergency plan is likely to take a few meetings/discussions.
More volunteering opportunities in East Dunbartonshire
If volunteering for Carers Link will not meet your needs or interests, why not contact East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action (EDVA) on 0141 578 6680 they have information about all local groups who may be looking for help.
In November 2010 we were very proud to be awarded 'Investing in Volunteers' status - the UK quality standard for organisations that involve volunteers in their work. Of local voluntary organisations, Carers Link has one of the largest volunteer teams, and we were the first in East Dunbartonshire to receive this award. Our continuing commitment to volunteers was recognised when the accreditation was renewed in 2013 and again in 2016.
Using the links at the top of the page, you will find all the information you need about volunteering with Carers Link. It may not answer all your questions so please feel free to contact Fiona Farris on 0800 975 2131 or by email.