Please note that this handbook does not refer to the Town Councillors who are also volunteers.
Volunteering with the Council is not about replacing paid staff, but about complementing and adding value to the work we already do. Volunteers bring specialist knowledge and skills to their roles and the Council recognises that some of the work it does would not be possible were it not for volunteers.
This handbook is designed to give you the information you’ll need as a volunteer and direct you where to go with any further questions.
The information in this handbook is not intended to be comprehensive; individual voluntary roles may differ in their requirements and implementation. Any such deviations will be covered in your induction and/or in your training.
Whatever your volunteering role, you will have access to relevant training, preparation, support and guidance throughout.
We will do everything we can to ensure your volunteering experience is positive, enriching and enjoyable.
Thank you for volunteering for Macclesfield Town Council.
Volunteering with us – Code of Conduct
We hope that you enjoy your time volunteering with us and we do value the time that you are able to give. However, there are certain guidelines that we expect volunteers and staff to follow to make sure that volunteering is a positive experience for all.
As a volunteer you agree to adhere to the following Code of Conduct:
• Make sure you know what you are doing and what is needed of you – don’t be afraid to ask!
• Take responsibility for yourself and ensure that you are physically able to do the work – there are always other things that need doing!
• Look after each other.
• Let us know if you cannot attend an agreed volunteering session.
• Let us know of any medical conditions that might affect your volunteering.
• Turn up with appropriate clothing for the task and weather.
• Use equipment and tools only for the task for which they are designed and report any damage to the Council.
• Do not discriminate against fellow volunteers, staff or members of the public.
• Treat others with the respect and courtesy that you would expect to be treated.
• Notify the Council immediately if you become involved in any investigations by Social Services or the Police.
• Adhere to covid-19 safety guidelines as detailed in event/activity risk assessments and pre-briefings.
You will not be allowed to volunteer if under the influence of drink or drugs. If you are suspected of being under the influence, you will be asked to leave the volunteering session.
What You Can Expect from Macclesfield Town Council
We are committed to ensuring that no applicant or volunteer will be treated less favourably than another because of their age, race, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital status, physical disability or medical condition, or religious beliefs.
There are 9 protected characteristics which are:
• Gender reassignment
• Marriage and civil partnerships
• Pregnancy and maternity
• Religion and belief
• Sexual orientation.
We recruit and manage all of our volunteers in accordance with our Equality Policy and will always seek to make our volunteer roles accessible to all, as much as is safe and practicable.
Further information can be found in our Equality policy. A copy can be provided on request.
Every volunteer role will be supported by a Council Officer known for the purposes of the role as the volunteer’s Supervising Officer. The Supervising Officer is responsible for ensuring that volunteers are well prepared for the activities they perform and that their capabilities and skills always remain in line with the requirements of their volunteer roles.
You will have regular opportunities to meet with the Supervising Officer to discuss your activities and any adjustments which may be required. The Supervising Officer will be your main point of contact with any work-related questions, suggestions or concerns.
You may also have a Task Supervisor. This could be another Council Officer or another volunteer who works alongside you. Task Supervisors may give direction on the work to be undertaken, provide training or demonstrate how a task should be completed.
If you have any problems or concerns regarding your volunteering role, it is important that you voice them. In this instance, you are encouraged to meet with the relevant Officer to discuss them. If you do not feel this discussion has satisfactorily dealt with your concern, you may wish to begin the Council’s complaints procedure.
You will have an induction into your volunteering role, where your Supervising Officer will provide information on the role and responsibilities, health and safety requirements and provide you with access to the relevant Council procedures.
As a volunteer, you will receive training appropriate to your role. If you are attending a single volunteering session, there will be an information briefing at the beginning of the session. Longer-term roles will have a formal induction before duties begin. This will include general information about the Council and information specific to the service in which you are volunteering, relevant health and safety instruction, guidance on good practice (for example, advised dress) and a detailed discussion of the duties.
Some roles will require further training such as carrying out duties with the support of staff or experienced volunteers, and learning skills via practical sessions. Refresher and extra training will also be provided as appropriate.
You may also be offered the opportunity to attend courses, which are relevant to your volunteering role, free of charge.
Much of the training will take place ‘on the job’ from other volunteers and staff – never be afraid to ask if you are unsure what you are doing or have been asked to do.
A learning record will be held by the Council to document any training sessions or refresher courses you attend and any new skills you acquire or update.
Well-Being and Safety
Contact Details All volunteers are required to complete a form with their contact details and an emergency point of contact.
Risk Assessments We carry out detailed risk assessments for each Council run project and event in order to identify and address any potential hazards. These risk assessments will contribute to the material used in your training sessions.
Health and Safety Training Where relevant, volunteers will receive appropriate health and safety training for each volunteering role they undertake. All the health and safety training you receive will be documented in your learning record.
The Council will provide you with the correct equipment for your volunteering role. If it is not disposable, this equipment remains the property of the Council and must be returned at the end of each session or, if the Council has loaned it to you, when you conclude your volunteering role. Once we give you equipment, it is your responsibility to take care of it and store it correctly. If you have any problems, you should report it to your Supervising Officer.
Following the relevant Health and Safety training, we ask you to commit to working safely, to take reasonable care for your own health and safety and not to put others at risk through your actions or omissions.
If you are concerned about a health and safety issue related to your volunteering role, you should refer it to your Supervising Officer immediately.
Smoking Policy It is against the law to smoke in buildings and in public/work vehicles. You are free to smoke whilst driving your own vehicle but should consider whether you are carrying other volunteers before doing so. You must not smoke in the vicinity of anyone receiving services from the Council.
As a volunteer assisting in the delivery of Council services, you will be covered by the Council’s insurance policies, including Public Liability Policy and Employers’ Liability Policy.
The insurance policies will only apply if you are acting with the knowledge, support, supervision or direction of the Council.
You will be provided with free drinking water, tea and coffee whilst on Council premises.
If Council staff are supplied with food, volunteers will be offered food as well.
The Council offers reimbursement for certain ‘out of pocket’ expenses incurred through volunteering.
‘Out of pocket’ expenses refer to payments which have been made directly by a volunteer in order to participate in a volunteering session or carry out a volunteering duty. These could be payments for travel and equipment.
We will not pay expenses for a session a volunteer has not attended. Volunteers can only receive expenses for sessions which have been agreed with the Supervising Officer; we can only reimburse expenses for extra sessions if your Supervising Officer asked you to attend them.
You will receive a full explanation of how to make a claim for ‘out of pocket’ expenses as part of your induction. All volunteers are entitled to claim for expenses, but we request that you do not discuss your expense claims with other volunteers.
If a volunteer is discovered to have made a claim in error, they will be asked to return the expenses.
If you use public or private transport to attend a volunteering session or to carry out a volunteering duty, you are eligible to make an expense claim.
We request that all volunteers limit their claims for travel as much as is practical and reasonable and that they use the lowest cost mode of transport available whenever possible. For example: using a bicycle in place of a car, walking in place of riding a bicycle, and only taking second class train travel.
We would not expect a volunteer who lives within manageable walking distance of the location where the volunteering takes place (‘manageable’ being relative to the individual), or who has a free travel bus pass, to make a claim for travel. If you have a reduced rate travel pass, your expense claim should only be for the sum you paid.
Public Transport If you make a claim for travel by public transport, you must provide proof of purchase (tickets/receipts) with your expense claim.
If you have a travel pass which covers a set period of time, you will receive reimbursement for one day of the travel pass cost for each day you use it to attend volunteering duties. For example, a weekly pass which costs £14 would result in £2 reimbursement for a day spent carrying out volunteering duties.
Private Transport If you are using your own vehicle for travel to or from volunteering sessions or to carry out volunteering duties, you are eligible to make an expense claim:
• Car and van drivers can claim 45p per mile regardless of engine capacity.
• Motorcyclists can claim 24p per mile regardless of engine capacity.
• Cyclists can claim 20p per mile.
The private transport expense rates are in keeping with HMRC’s thresholds and will be reviewed thereby on a regular basis. Any changes to these rates will be relayed to you by your Supervising Officer.
We do not currently reclaim VAT for volunteer expenses, so it is not necessary for you to collect fuel VAT receipts.
Parking We ask that you aim to find free parking whenever possible, but parking costs can be claimed if no free parking is available. You must provide a ticket or receipt with your claim.
Protective Clothing and Specialist Equipment (PPE)
If required, PPE will usually be provided by the Council. If you are asked to purchase any protective clothing or equipment in order to undertake volunteer duties safely, it must be to relevant ‘British Standard’; you may then make a claim for the cost. This must be accompanied by a formal dated receipt.
All expense claims must be submitted within three months of the related volunteering duty.
References Requested by Volunteers
If you require an academic, professional or character reference, your Supervising Officer will be able to provide you with one. This could detail the training you have received and any skills you have acquired or updated.
Your Commitment as a Volunteer
Availability for Volunteering
The Volunteer Role Description will state the number of sessions you are expected to participate in and how long each session is. We ask that you make every effort to undertake these sessions.
Volunteering hours could involve mornings, afternoons, evenings or any days of the week. The role description will specify what constitutes a session within your role.
Some roles will ask you to state your general availability for a six-month period or for however long the role is expected to last; other roles will ask for your availability over a shorter period. You can also state specific dates when you are unavailable.
We aim to give you at least one month’s advance notice before a volunteering session is scheduled; however, due to the nature of certain roles, some volunteering sessions may not be confirmed until closer to the time.
We ask that you attend all your agreed volunteering sessions unless you are unwell or an exceptional circumstance occurs. We also ask that you give reasonable notice for any changes you later wish to make. If you are unable to attend a session, you should let your Supervising Officer know as soon as possible to allow time to find another volunteer.
As well as fulfilling your agreed volunteering sessions, we ask that you commit to attending all training sessions relevant to your role and all meetings with your Supervising Officer, for which mutually convenient dates will be agreed.
If you have any queries or concerns about your volunteering hours, you can discuss them with your Supervising Officer.
Whether you are in a position to give a little time or a lot, your contribution is highly valued.
Driving whilst Volunteering
If you are undertaking driving as part of your volunteering duties, the Council require confirmation from your insurers that you are insured when driving to volunteering sessions. We will repeat this process annually or at any time your insurance cover changes so long as you continue in that role.
It is against the law to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving; the use of hands-free phones while driving is not prohibited by law, but the Department for Transport’s road safety advice recommends that employers do not ask their staff to make or receive calls while they are driving. The Council asks that volunteers do not use the hands-free function on their mobile phones when driving on its behalf.
The Council does not own or lease out vehicles.
Access to Macclesfield Town Council IT Facilities
Some volunteer roles may require access to the Council’s IT network. If this is necessary for your role, your Supervising Officer will arrange it. In order to use our IT facilities, you are required to sign an agreement saying you will comply with the relevant parts of the Council’s ICT Policy.
The Council reserves the right to monitor use of all its internet connections; these are corporately owned, therefore no automatic right to privacy exists in relation to activities conducted through them. The Council’s internet connections must not be used in any way which could negatively impact its reputation. Access to the Council’s IT systems is given via protected usernames and passwords.
If you are using the Council’s computer facilities, please remember the following:
• Do not share your username and password with anyone else. If you share these details with someone and they use the internet connection inappropriately, you could be held to account for their actions.
• Do not make any downloads and please keep personal use of the facilities (such as email or social networking) to a minimum.
• Only use Council approved software and corporately encrypted USB memory sticks on Council computers. Other memory sticks must not be used.
• When using a Council computer or carrying out Council business on a personal computer do not leave the computer switched on and unattended. Computers should be locked – particularly if you are in a public location.
• If loaned a laptop for the purposes of fulfilling a volunteer role, do not leave the laptop in a vehicle due to the risk of theft which could also result in loss of data.
• If, as part of your volunteering role, you are using your own computer to connect to the Council network (locally or remotely), the computer must meet the Council’s standards for security configuration.
Some volunteer roles may include access to privileged and/or sensitive information. This information must be treated in absolute confidence. All personal information is covered by the Data Protection Act, which requires that this information be protected. Data protection and confidentiality rules apply equally to volunteers and employed staff.
Confidential information may only be shared with Council staff and volunteers who also require the information to carry out their roles.
Information accessed via the Council network as part of a volunteering role must not be passed directly or indirectly to people who do not have the right to view it. Passing this information on without being authorised to do so may be treated as misconduct.
There may be specific situations in which confidential information is shared with others, but this will stem from a direct instruction from your Supervising Officer.
Safeguarding is a process of protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect or harm. All volunteers who come into contact with vulnerable groups have a duty of care to safeguard, protect and promote their welfare in line with our safeguarding policy.
Should your volunteering role involve contact with vulnerable groups, you will receive extensive training on safeguarding and child protection.
During your time as a Council volunteer, whatever your role, should you become aware of any safeguarding issues you must disclose them to your Supervising Officer immediately.
If your health undergoes any changes whilst you are volunteering for the Council, you must inform your Supervising Officer so that we can continue to ensure your safety whilst volunteering.
Should you develop a condition which could negatively impact your ability to carry out your role or your well-being whilst doing so, you will have a review meeting with your Supervising Officer.
All reasonable adjustments will be made to enable you to begin or continue volunteering duties, but there may be occasions when we cannot allow you to undertake or persist in your chosen role. Should this happen, you may wish to have another discussion with your Supervising Officer to determine an alternative volunteering role you would like to do instead.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks
DBS checks are the new name for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. DBS is short for the Disclosure and Barring Service, an organisation which checks for any crimes a person may have committed and any times when they have been involved with the police.
If at any time during your span as a volunteer you are notified or become aware that you may be subject to new police proceedings, or that you have been referred to the DBS, you must inform your Supervising Officer as soon as possible. This circumstance does not automatically mean you can no longer volunteer, but the continuation of your role would have to be considered.
If you take a break from your volunteering role which exceeds three months and the role required you to undergo a DBS check, the DBS process will have to be repeated. (As with the initial DBS check, the Council will cover the cost of this.)
Should you wish to apply for an additional or alternative volunteering role which requires a DBS check, and you have already undergone a check for your current role, you may not need another one. This will be dependent upon whether your existing check was at an appropriate level.
DBS checks will be paid for by Macclesfield Town Council.
All Council volunteers involved in a longer-term volunteering role will have a Volunteer Agreement. This agreement states what you can expect from the Council and what the Council expects from you in return. The agreement is to be signed by the volunteer and their Supervising Officer.
The Volunteer Agreement is not a legal contract; it is more a statement of understanding between you and us.
Occasionally we may have to speak to volunteers who cause concern to staff and volunteers through behaviours, actions or breach of health and safety. If the instance cannot be dealt with on site or is continuous, the Council will deal with it in the following manner:
a) A meeting between the volunteer and Supervising Officer to discuss the issue;
b) If behaviour and concerns persist a meeting with the Town Clerk;
c) If a solution cannot be reached the volunteer will be unable to continue their duties with us. This may be decided upon after point a) above.
Leaving Your Volunteering Role
You are free to leave your volunteering role at any time. However, we ask that you give as much notice to your Supervising Officer as you reasonably can to avoid possible impact on the service in which you have been volunteering.
When you have left us, we must retain your information (such as application forms, learning records and general contact details) for six years after your volunteering role finishes. If your role involved working with vulnerable adults or children, we have to retain them for 30 years by law. However, if you are aged 65 or over when you leave, your file need only be retained for six years.
There may be times where we feel it appropriate or necessary to withdraw a volunteer role and/or reallocate a volunteer to another role elsewhere. This could be because the associated project has come to a close or changes in the nature of the role or the volunteer’s health mean it is no longer suitable. Legal reasons could also be a factor if there is a conflict of interest or if criminal proceedings are being brought against the volunteer. Misconduct or persistent inappropriate behaviour in the face of advice may also result in the withdrawal of a role. Should reallocation or withdrawal of a role be appropriate, your Supervising Officer will discuss it with you first.
When you leave a volunteer role, we may ask you to fill out an evaluation form or invite you to an evaluation meeting with your Supervising Officer. These evaluations are an excellent opportunity for both the volunteer and the Council to identify aspects that worked particularly well and discuss potential areas for improvement. By participating, you are helping us to improve our volunteer engagement and helping us to ensure we are fully supporting our volunteers.
Thank you for choosing to become a Council volunteer. We are very happy to supply any further information you may need and sincerely hope you enjoy your volunteering experience with us.
If you have any further questions or queries, please feel free to contact us by emailing email@example.com.
Use the space below to make a note of your Supervising Officer and any other useful contacts appropriate to your role. Your Supervising Officer will be able to help with this.