What is volunteering? “Volunteering is an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than, or in addition to, close relatives.”

Principles of Volunteering

Learning difficultiesChoice: Volunteering is a choice freely made by individuals.  Any encouragement to become involved in volunteering should not result in any form of coercion or compulsion.  Freedom to volunteer implies freedom not to become involved.

Diversity: The diverse people of Hertfordshire bring a wide variety of skills, qualities and experience to the voluntary and community sector and this diversity needs to be recognised, respected and valued.  Volunteering should be open to all, no matter what their background, age, race, sexual orientation, faith, etc. Volunteering can also help overcome social exclusion through new skills, experience, confidence and contacts gained while helping others.

Reciprocity: Volunteers offer their contribution unwaged but should benefit in other ways in return for their contribution to wider social objectives.  Giving voluntary time and skills must be recognised as establishing a reciprocal relationship in which the volunteer also gains.  Benefits that volunteers expect to gain include a sense of worthwhile achievement, useful skills, experience and contacts, sociability and fun, and inclusion in the life of Aves Housing and the wider community.

Recognition: The value of a volunteer’s contribution to our Trust, to the community, to the social economy and to wider social objectives, is fundamental to the relationship between volunteers, Aves and statutory policy and practice.


Volunteers Rights

Volunteers’ Responsibilities


State benefits and volunteering

There are 2 important things to remember about volunteering with Aves Housing while you are receiving state benefits:-

  1. You are free to volunteer as long as the work you do is unpaid (apart from out of pocket expenses) and you meet the rules of your benefit. It’s always worth checking with your benefits adviser before you start volunteering with Aves Housing.
  2. Volunteering is not something you can be forced to do – it’s your choice.
  3. We have NEVER paid a subsistence allowance to any of our volunteers – and never will.

There are rules for different types of benefits:-

Volunteering while on state benefitsJob Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
People receiving JSA can do as much volunteering as they want, as long as they remain available for, and are actively seeking, work.  This means that claimants have to show that they are looking for work and applying for jobs where appropriate.  People volunteering are entitled to 48 hours’ notice if they are asked to attend an interview, and a week’s notice before starting work. (These are concessions to the 24 hours’ notice normally allowed.)

Income Support
Volunteering should not affect someone’s Income Support as long as they are not receiving any money other than true reimbursement of expenses.

Incapacity Benefit (IB)
There is a lot of confusion over Incapacity Benefit.  This is partly based on misinformation about old rules and partly due to confusion about current rules.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
DLA is an allowance paid in acknowledgement of the fact that life for someone with a disability may be more expensive – for instance, someone with mobility problems may be reliant on taxis.  Volunteering will not affect whether an individual receives this benefit or not. (For further information, please refer to “Volunteering while receiving benefits”, DWP/Jobcentre Plus)

Housing Benefit/Local Authority Housing Allowance
This is usually paid to people receiving JSA, Income Support, Pension Credit or who have a low income.  It should not be affected by volunteering but claimants should inform their local authority about any volunteer expenses they receive.  (For further information, please refer to “Volunteering while receiving benefits”, DWP/Jobcentre Plus)

Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
This is a new benefit which was introduced from 27 October 2008.  The ESA will replace both Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of disability or incapacity.  (Incapacity Benefit and Income Support will continue to be paid to existing claimants; new claimants will receive ESA).
The new regulations on Employment Support Allowance clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer.  The regulations also recognise that reasonable expenses can be reimbursed to claimants who volunteer.