Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find the answer to a question you have about volunteering on this page, send us an email at or give us a call on 0300 365 9920.


Yes. You should be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance as long as you remain available for and are actively seeking work. Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance should all remain unaffected.

For more information about volunteering whilst claiming benefits, please visit the website.

Most organisations pay reasonable 'out of pocket' expenses, these cover travelling costs and possibly lunch if you volunteer for a full day. Not all organisations are in a position to pay expenses so it is important to confirm this with the organisation before you commence your volunteer placement.

For more information about expenses, please visit the website.

What is the difference between a CRB and a DBS check?

The main difference is that a DBS check is tranferrable so volunteers will not have to apply for a new check every time they volunteer with a new organisation in a role that requires a DBS check.

On 1st December 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority merged to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The new system will replace the old CRB checking service and will launch in the next few months.

Do I need a DBS check to volunteer?

It depends on the kind of volunteering role you are doing. If you volunteering brings you into close contact with young people under 18 or vulnerable adults (older people or people with physical or mental disabilities) then you will require a DBS check. It is the responsibility of the organisation you are volunteering with to apply for a DBS check for you and they will let you know if it is required or not.

Why do I need a DBS check?

DBS checks are used in the voluntary sector to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work that involves children or vulnerable adults.

The CRB was established under of the Police Act 1997 and was launched in March 2002, following public concern about the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Does it cost anything to get a DBS certificate?

The service is free for volunteers.

I have an exisiting CRB check, do I need to do anything?

No. Your existing CRB is still valid. If you ever go onto volunteer at a new organisation in a role that requires a DBS certificate, you will acquire a DBS certificate that will then be portable.

For full information about DBS checks please visit the website.

Please do not be disheartened if the organisation you are interested in does not reply straight away.

Get in touch with our Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator, Gabby, who can help you contact the organisation or find another role that will interest you.


Phone: 0300 365 9920

If you are having trouble using Volunteer Connect, please see below at our specific FAQs for Volunteer Connect.

If your questions are still not answered please get in touch with our Volunteer Brokerage Coordinator, Gabby. 


Phone: 0300 365 9920

Volunteer Connect


If you log in regularly, use everything Volunteer Connect has to offer, and stay in touch with us, we are very confident that you’ll find opportunities. We hear about hundreds of placements every year from volunteers and organisations who have found each other through our service.

Click here to go to our website

On the right-hand side of the page, click on ‘Volunteer Log In’ and then click ‘Register’.

You can now fill in the required (*) fields plus your informationprofile and interests. Please make sure to fill in your contact detailsAbout Me section and tick the Terms and Conditions. Please note you do not have to fill out the information on page 3 – we do not require references.

It’s up to you how much information you share, but keep in mind the more up to date and informative your profile is, the more likely you are to find opportunities matching your interests.

Whatever you want! It’s up to you how much information about yourself you share.

The important thing organisations want to know is what motivates you and why you are volunteering.

Try to celebrate the social value of volunteering.

Although organisations understand that many people volunteer as a pathway into other opportunities, like work, try to avoid only talking about the material or career benefits you’d like to get out of volunteering.

Many opportunities do not require a reference, so don’t worry if you don’t have any. Simply leave this section blank.

However, if the opportunity involves working with children, vulnerable people, or requires particular skills, a reference will be probably be requested. You may not be successful if you apply for these sorts of opportunities without references.


Look out for our Opportunities of the Week bulletin in your inbox, or find them all listed on our site.

Use the Opportunity Search function, ensuring you include a postcode.

Check our Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Call or email us. 0300 365 9920 /


Make sure you’ve got the opportunity open on Volunteer Connect.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Confirm Interest’, (if you’re not logged in already, it will ask you to log in) then write the organisation a message.

If you are really keen on the opportunity, it is strongly advised you include in this message your phone number or the best way to contact you.

Once you’ve sent this, you can see the record of your contact by logging in and clicking Your Volunteer Roles.

In Recent Activity, you’ll see your message in Roles you’ve expressed interest in from the role search.

Recent Activity

1. Invitations for volunteering roles that you have accepted

These are opportunities that an organisation has invited you to apply for, or for which you have applied independently, and you have made a final confirmation of interest. If an opportunity is in this tab, it means the respective organisation(s) can see your contact details.

2. Roles you’ve expressed interest in from the role search

These are roles that you have found independently and clicked to confirm interest. You’re waiting for the organisation to back to you. Please allow at least one week from applying for an organisation to respond.

You’ve been invited to apply for

An organisation has posted an opportunity, and the system has suggested you as a matching volunteer because of what you’ve included in your profile. The organisation has then invited you to apply for the opportunity.

Log in and go to Your Volunteer Roles.

Scroll down to You’ve been invited to apply for

Click on View Opportunity and scroll down to see the message.

Scroll down once more, where you can either write a reply or decline interest.

The staff in the volunteering services team can see all of your entered details once you have registered. We will never pass on your details to anyone else without your permission. We will contact you from time to time asking for feedback on our service, or if we’ve found an opportunity we think you’d particularly like. You can ask to stop receiving updates at any time.

Organisations can see your email address once you have done the following

  1. - Confirmed interest in an opportunity, either independently or following an invitation.

  2. - The organisation has seen your message and replied.

  3. - You’ve then made a final confirmation of interest.

If you’re really keen on an opportunity, we strongly advise you to simply include your contact details in any of the initial correspondence with the organisation.

Log in and go to Role Search.

Scroll down and click Advanced Search.

Scroll down to Roles for Young People and click 17 and under. You may wish to fill out any of the other search criteria, too.

If an opportunity appears in Opportunity Search or elsewhere that is not in Brent, it means one or both of the following:

- The organisation is willing to recruit people from all over London.

- Their opportunity takes place across London.

If you're interested in the opportunity but worried about the distance, you may wish to see if the opportunity offers travel expenses, see this in the role description.

These are roles that will appear in Recent Activity – Invitations from volunteering roles that you’ve accepted.

You will have been invited to apply and you have written back, or you have applied independently and the organisation has written back.

If an opportunity is in this box, it means your contact details are visible to the organisation hosting the opportunity. Wait for them to get in touch, or contact us to follow up.

 0300 365 9920 /

Last updated: 6th April 2017