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Frequently Asked Questions : About Us

What is the third sector?

The third sector is a diverse, active and passionate sector. Organisations in the sector share the common characteristics of being non governmental organisations which are value driven and which principally reinvest their surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. It encompasses voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals both large and small.(Cabinet Office Sept 2007)

What is a Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)?

A Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) is a Third Sector organisation that supports, promotes and develops local voluntary activity. CVS support other Third Sector organisations by providing them with a range of services and by acting as a voice on their behalf. CVS are also involved in advocacy for the organisations they represent, and aid in communication between the local voluntary and community sector and the statutory sector. They will typically have a seat on the Local Strategic Partnership (Our Local Strategic Partnership is called One Barnsley). CVS are bought together nationally by NAVCA, the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (which before 14 June 2006 was known as NACVS, the National Association of Councils for voluntary service).

I want to volunteer. How do i go about it?

Firstly, you should contact our Volunteer Centre on 01226 295 905. They have over 100 organisations in Barnsley registered on their database all looking for volunteers. Also we will be able to put you in touch with groups in your area. Secondly, you can log onto the national volunteering database at Finally, check the local press as groups often advertise for volunteers.

Will volunteering affect my benefits?

No people on benefits are entitled to volunteer without it affecting their benefits. In many cases Job Centre staff actively encourage claimants to think about volunteering as a valuable stepping stone into paid employment. For futher information Leaflet JSAL7 (also available as JSAL7 JCP) promotes volunteering to benefit claimants.

I'm on benefits am I only allowed to volunteer for a certain number of hours?

Some benefit claimants find that they are told they cannot volunteer at all, or that they can only volunteer for a certain number of hours, or that they are not entitled to receive reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. There are no limits on the hours you are able to volunteer. There was a limit in the past of 16 hours per week, this ended in October 1998. However, it may be likely that a Jobcentre Plus Decision Maker may regard someone as volunteering full-time as not having time to actively seek work.

How long does someone need to be in employment to become entitled to redundancy pay?

An employee becomes entitled to redundancy pay after 2 years continuous employment. Note, this is regardless of whether the employment was on a 'fixed term' contract or not.

I am about to recruit my first employee, what do I need to think about?

Does the organisation have adequate employers liability insurance Does the organisation's governing document allow you to employ staff Have you developed a suitable job description and person specification for the post Have you developed a fair recruitment process for the post, including an application stage, interview stage, and second interviews if necessary Have you developed a legal contract of employment for the employee which meets the needs of your organisation Do you have up-to-date and legal personnel policies which you are likely to need e.g. Equal Opportunities & Diversity Policies; Health & Safety Policies; Conduct & Capability Policies; and a Redundancy Policy; amongst others Are there adequate arrangements in place for regular management, supervision and appraisal of the employee? This is a non-exhaustive list, please contact Jane Jefferson on 0845 231 1313 or 01226 286841, or email: for further support in this area.

What holidays are employees currently entitled to?

Current holiday entitlement is 24 days (4.8 weeks) including statutory holidays, or pro rata for part-time employees. Note this is due to change on 1st April 2009 to 28 days (5.6 weeks) including statutory holidays.

What are the benefits of issuing an employee with a 'fixed term' contract over a 'permanent' one?

Practically none. With the introduction of the The Fixed Term Employees (Protection of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, employees on 'fixed term' contracts became entitled to redundancy pay and all other benefits to which 'permanent' contract workers were entitled to. When dismissing an employee on a 'fixed term' contract, an employer must still follow a fair dismissal procedure, the minimum being the Statutory Dismissal Procedure. Note that an employee who has been on renewed 'fixed term' contracts for 4 years or more becomes a 'permanent' employee anyway, unless the employer can provide objective justification otherwise.

When does an employee gain unfair dismissal rights?

An employee gains unfair dismissal rights after 1 years continuous service.

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is essentially about giving your time to do something useful, without getting paid (apart from expenses). Volunteering England defines volunteering as any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives. Central to this definition is the fact that volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual. This can include formal activity undertaken through public, private and voluntary organisations as well as informal community participation.

What kind of volunteering roles can people find on Do-it and with their local Volunteer Centres?

The range of opportunities is huge - we have over a million opportunities listed so whatever skills and experience you have, there is something that you can do - from campaigning to dog walking. At YouthNet we have virtual volunteering opportunities where people can volunteer from their own homes!

How much time do I need to give?

Some volunteering requires many hours a week, some only a few each month. Even if you work full-time and have a busy lifestyle you should still be able to find something that suits you.

What skills will I need?

That depends on the opportunity. Many don't require any particular skills, while others might make use of specific training, for example in accountancy.

Will I get my expenses paid?

Most organisations will pay any costs you have, such as transport or meal expenses.

What can I expect once I have registered via Do-it?

You should hear back from the organisation you have registered with within ten working days. They should confirm that they have received your details and be able to answer any further questions.

Can I claim benefits while volunteering?

Yes. The benefits regulations are clear that you can volunteer. You can find all the latest information about volunteering and benefits, including Jobseekers Allowance and Incapacity Benefit from the Volunteering England website ( There it explains is detail what you can do. Basically, you can volunteer as long as you are 'volunteering'. This means you can volunteer with a charity or other voluntary organisation, with a public-sector organisation, or help your community. Volunteering does not include something for a family member, anything where you receive more money than just your expenses, or if you are under contract to do work.

I am not a British national, can I volunteer in the UK?

There are no restrictions on volunteering by EU nationals. The same goes for nationals of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. People with refugee status (or who have exceptional leave to remain) and family members can do any type of work including volunteering. Asylum seekers and family members may volunteer - including whilst they are appealing against a decision to refuse them asylum.

Can I volunteer if I have a disability?

Yes. There are disabled volunteers in all kinds of roles.

Can I volunteer if I'm under-16?

Some organisations say that they cannot insure volunteers under-16. If you have problems finding an opportunity, contact your local Volunteer Centre.

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