Spirit Aid aims to:
- Provide adequate control of the health and safety risks arising from our work activities.
- Consult with our staff and volunteers on matters affecting their health and safety.
- Provide and maintain a safe working environment.
- Ensure safe handling and use of substances.
- Provide information, instruction and supervision to staff and volunteers.
- Prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill-health.
- Maintain safe and healthy work conditions.
- Ensure all staff and volunteers are competent to do their tasks and to give them adequate training.
- Review and revise this policy as necessary at regular intervals.
As a volunteer, you are a person who offers their time, experience, knowledge and skills without financial gain, helping to achieve objectives or with the aim of providing a benefit to the local community. The role of volunteers is very different from that of employees. There is no contract of employment between Spirit Aid and its volunteers. A person might decide to become a volunteer to gain new skills and experience, to put existing skills to use, to make new friends and to work in the community.
This policy provides Spirit Aid with a framework of best practise and procedures for the appointment, management and support of volunteers. A copy of this document will be made available to all volunteers during their time volunteering with Spirit Aid.
Purpose of the Policy
- Demonstrates our commitment to volunteers.
- Ensures fairness and consistency.
- Ensures that decisions are not made on an ad hoc basis and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly.
- Clarifies the relationship between volunteers and staff at all levels.
- Ensures that volunteers have a clear role and a list of responsibilities and tasks to work to and that they receive appropriate support, supervision, training and development to help carry out their tasks
- Ensures non-exploitative use of volunteers in a supportive environment.
As a volunteer, you bring substantial benefits to Spirit Aid by bringing skills and your personal experiences to the organisation. Spirit Aid recognises and appreciates the major contribution that you make to our work. In return, Spirit Aid can offer you a rewarding experience by providing opportunities to:
- Meet new challenges and new people.
- Make a significant contribution to our service users
- Develop skills and experience within a dynamic, positive, friendly and supportive environment.
- Increase individual career opportunities, build community capacity and contribute to developing a skilled workforce.
The Status of Volunteers
- Spirit Aid would hope that the arrangement of volunteering carries on if it is mutually agreeable for you and Spirit Aid but there are no time limits on this relationship.
- Contribution towards travel expenses or social expenses does not constitute any form of contract.
- We acknowledge that personal circumstances change and so you may resign at any time. We would appreciate as much notice as possible.
- Spirit Aid reserves the right to terminate your volunteer relationship. This will be done in writing. Spirit Aid will where possible try and give volunteers at least two weeks notice of termination of the volunteering relationship but has the right to terminate the volunteer relationship without notice at any time without prejudice.
Principles of Spirit Aid
- Spirit Aid will apply the Equal Opportunity Policy to your recruitment and management.
- Spirit Aid will provide you with a volunteer agreement as part of your induction.
- Spirit Aid will make information available for you to help you claim any reasonable expenses.
- Spirit Aid will provide appropriate public liability insurance cover whilst you are engaged in a volunteer activity with us.
- Spirit Aid does not regard you as an unpaid employee and will not expect you to undertake inappropriate responsibilities or be used in a situation where a paid member of staff or a person who provides services under contract should be used.
- Spirit Aid will consult you on issues concerning your volunteering activity.
- Spirit Aid will offer training and support for you, in relation to your tasks.
- Spirit Aid expects you to behave reasonably and not bring Spirit Aid into disrepute.
- All the information provided to you will be clear and easy to understand.
Volunteer Management and Support
You will have a named supervisor who shall be responsible for:
- Providing you with a written description of your role, outlining responsibilities and reporting structure.
- Organising a planned induction to the organisation, including explaining relevant policies and procedures and agreed on duties and tasks.
- Facilitating ongoing, open, two-way communication between you and Spirit Aid.
- Identifying and resolving any obstacles to achievement.
- Providing regular support and review of the role and activities.
Your supervisor and is responsible for ensuring that unreasonable requests are not made of you and that there is no pressure to extend your role beyond the agreed remit.
The Board of Directors of Spirit Aid will have overall responsibility for ensuring that the terms and spirit of the Volunteering policy is complied with.
Spirit Aid will accept volunteers in accordance with Spirit Aid’s Equal Opportunities Policy and will:
- Provide a description for all volunteering activities, outlining specific tasks, responsibilities and reporting structure.
- Ask all prospective volunteers to complete and sign a Volunteer Application and Emergency Contact Details Form.
- Invite all prospective volunteers to meet their intended supervisor for a discussion of the proposed role, its requirements and expectations of both parties.
- Have the right to refuse the offer of service of any volunteer.
- Not accept volunteers of less than 18 years of age.
- Ask for two satisfactory references. In the case that you do not have suitable employment references, you may obtain a reference from a person in a position of responsibility.
Conduct and Performance
Because of the nature of our work and for Spirit Aid to work effectively, it is important that you arrive on time for the hours you have agreed to volunteer. If you cannot make the agreed time commitment, we ask that you give the project as much notice as possible so that alternative arrangements may be made.
If you wish to withdraw from your voluntary role you are asked to give your supervisor as much notice as possible. Spirit Aid would appreciate at least two weeks’ notice of you leaving your role but recognises your right to withdraw at any time without prejudice.
Spirit Aid will be in the position to offer you an appropriate reference for up to three years after you stop volunteering with us.
Spirit Aid will provide training to enable you to effectively carry out your activities on behalf of Spirit Aid. This training will directly relate to the activity for which you volunteer.
During or after your time with Spirit Aid, we will be in the position to supply a reference based on your service, indicating the skills and knowledge acquired as well as the personal qualities observed.
Disclosure of Convictions
Having a criminal record will not be a bar to volunteer with Spirit Aid unless the Directors decide that a conviction means that the applicant is unsuitable for the volunteering role. Under the requirements of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and any other relevant legislation, there may be a need to ask all volunteers to disclose any unspent convictions.
Health and Safety
Spirit Aid has a duty to look after your safety and well-being. We will make you aware of the Health and Safety Policy and any special safety arrangements relating to your individual role.
You, as well as employees, must take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and others who may be affected by what you do or omit to do, at work.
Subject to Government Legislation and guidance, Spirit Aid refunds reasonable out of pocket travel and social expenses to volunteers. If you wish to claim incurred expense you must provide receipts and/or travel tickets.
Expenses arrangements and levels will be explained to you before you start any volunteering relationship.
Spirit Aid undertakes to provide adequate insurance cover for you whilst undertaking voluntary work approved and authorised by us, to cover accidents caused to you or by you.
Monitoring and Review
It will be the responsibility of the Volunteer Supervisor to regularly review the operation of this Volunteer Policy and to make sure that it is always in accordance with the Equal Opportunity Policy and current volunteering best practise.
Where possible, issues should be resolved informally by a discussion between the member of staff and line manager. The resolution of the problem should be the desired outcome for both parties. Occasionally this is unachievable where the member of staff considers that the matter cannot be resolved by discussion with his/her manager. Before the procedure can be invoked, the member of staff must demonstrate that he/she has attempted to resolve the issue with his/her immediate line manager or demonstrate why this is not appropriate.<
The purpose of the procedure is to deal promptly with any grievance the member of staff has connected with his/her employment.
In certain circumstances, and with the agreement of all parties, it may be appropriate to use formal mediation to resolve the grievance. If formal mediation is used and is successful, this will conclude the grievance procedure. If this is not the case the grievance procedure will recommence from the point that it left off.
First formal stage
The member of staff must put the grievance in writing, to his/her line manager’s manager, within two weeks of the matter remaining unresolved or the issue occurring. The letter should set out the full reasons for the grievance and the steps he/she has taken to resolve it with his/her immediate line manager.
The manager will acknowledge the letter within one week of receipt and arrange to meet the member of staff within two weeks of receipt of the grievance, where reasonably practicable.
The member of staff may be accompanied.
The manager will respond to the grievance within two weeks giving the reasons for his/her response.
Final formal stage
If the matter is not resolved at the first formal stage then the member of staff may pursue his/her grievance to the next formal and final stage.
The member of staff must put the grievance in writing, to the next level of management (ie, the Board of Directors) within two weeks of the decision, setting out the full reasons for the grievance and why he/she was not satisfied with the first formal stage.
The manager will acknowledge the letter within one week of receipt and arrange to meet the member of staff within two weeks of receipt of the grievance, where reasonably practicable.
The member of staff may be accompanied.
The manager will respond to the grievance within two weeks where reasonably practicable, giving the reasons for his/her response which is final.
Spirit Aid wholeheartedly supports the principle of equal opportunities. We aim to encourage, value and manage diversity and we recognise that talent and potential are distributed across the population. Not only are there moral and social reasons for promoting equality of opportunity, it is in the best interest of this organisation to recruit and develop the best people for our jobs and volunteering opportunities from as wide and diverse a pool of talent as possible. That diversity adds value.
Spirit Aid realises that the project provides an important and valuable service to many people socially isolated within their local community. This social isolation can itself stem from forms of fear and discrimination within society in terms of disability, mental health, sexuality, age, homelessness, poverty, specific health conditions, religious beliefs, etc.
Spirit Aid, as a developing organisation, recognises the need to endeavour to understand the nature of discrimination and how it affects the people with whom we work: service users, volunteers, partner organisations and paid staff. Spirit Aid will take care not to, either intentionally or unintentionally, discriminate against anyone wishing to become involved with the project.
Discrimination is acting unfairly against a group or individual through, for example, exclusion, verbal comment, denigration, harassment, and victimisation, a failure to appreciate needs or the assumption of such needs without consultation.
All forms of discrimination are unacceptable, regardless of whether there was any intention to discriminate or not. Staff and volunteers have a duty to co-operate with Spirit Aid to ensure that this policy is effective in ensuring equal opportunities and in preventing discrimination.
Spirit Aid aims to create a culture that respects and values each others’ differences, that promotes dignity, equality and diversity, and that encourages individuals to develop and maximise their true potential.
We aim to remove any barriers, bias or discrimination that prevent individuals or groups from realising their potential and contribute fully to our organisation’s performance and to develop an organisational culture that positively values diversity and are committed wherever practicable, to achieving and maintaining a workforce, both paid and volunteering, that reflects the local community in which we operate.
Everyone has the right to volunteer with Spirit Aid. However, it is acknowledged here that not everyone is suitable for the role of volunteer with the project. Spirit Aid will provide an equal level of access and opportunity for all to apply to become a volunteer. No groups or individuals will be automatically excluded or disadvantaged.
The selection of suitable volunteers will consist of a process including interview, references, training and a Disclosure Scotland Enhanced Disclosure, if relevant. Once a volunteer has been successfully recruited, trained and accepted as a volunteer they will have the same access to additional training, social functions and support as any other volunteer.
Spirit Aid will take positive action to redress discrimination and to provide genuine equality of opportunity throughout its organisation and the service it runs. This commitment will apply to staff, volunteers and service users and every possible step will be taken to ensure that individuals are treated fairly in all aspects of their association with Spirit Aid.
Each employee and volunteer is responsible for their own compliance with this policy. Breaches of the Equal Opportunities Policy will be regarded as misconduct and could lead to disciplinary action and withdrawal of volunteer agreements.
Employees or volunteers who feel they have been discriminated against should raise the matter with a Director of Spirit Aid. Initially the volunteer and Director should try to resolve the matter informally as it may be that discriminatory action is unwitting and easily resolved once the problem is clear. However, if they are dissatisfied with the outcome, the complaint is very serious, then the matter should be raised with Patrick Rolink in writing, as a formal grievance under Spirit Aid’s Grievance Procedure.
Spirit Aid is committed to providing the appropriate training and guidance to develop equality and diversity and adequate resources will be made available to fulfil the aims of this policy. This policy will be widely promoted, and copies will be freely made available and are displayed in the offices of Spirit Aid.
Spirit Aid recognises that confidentiality, the professional and sensitive management of personal information, is to the greatest importance to the people who use our services and the organisation itself.
Spirit Aid acknowledges that the client has a fundamental right to know that the organisation has a clear and concise confidentiality policy and that this will be adhered to as laid out in the policy.
Volunteers and service users have the right to be aware of and confident that:
- Information they give or that is received in relation to them, will only be used for the purpose for which it was given and will not be shared with anyone out with the organisation without the expressed consent of the volunteer or service user.
- Every effort will be made to ensure that records are kept so as to avoid the service user or volunteer being unnecessarily identified and where written records require the volunteer or service user to be identified; all such records will be stored securely.
- Information disclosed by the volunteer or service user in relation to them will be treated as confidential to the organisation and not to any one individual worker within the organisation.
- Where the organisation wishes to or has been requested to disclose information to a third party, then the full and informed consent of the service user or volunteer will be requested and required.
- The service user and volunteer have the right to withhold consent for the release of any and all information. If consent is withheld then information will not be shared with a third party, except in exceptional circumstances.
- Where informed consent is given by the service user or volunteer in the knowledge that the information will not remain confidential to the organisation, it will be made clear to the service user or volunteer what information will be passed on and who will receive it.
However, Spirit Aid does not operate a policy of ‘absolute’ confidentiality. There are four main exceptions to the requirement to maintain confidentiality. These are:
- Where there is a concern that a service user, volunteer or other is placing a third party or individual at risk, especially where the individual is a child.
- Where a service user or volunteer is unable to give consent to the release of information to a third party, who if not informed, may result in the service user or volunteer’s injury or risk to life and limb.
- Where the specific acts of a service user or volunteer are known to the organisation to be in contravention of the law of the land.
- When the organisation is instructed by the courts, or designated officers of a court, to reveal information.
In the event that exceptional circumstances prevail, the service user or volunteer will be informed at an appropriate time of the transfer of information and has the right to complain if they choose.
Where it appears that confidentiality may have to be breached, the Directors at Spirit Aid will make every effort to discuss the situation with the client prior to the breach, unless there is good reason to believe this will pose an increased risk to anyone’s safety or further worsen the immediate situation.
All children and vulnerable adults have the right to live their lives to the fullest potential, to be protected, to have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy any activity, and to be treated with dignity and respect. There is a considerable body of legislation, government guidance and standards designed to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are protected from harm and Spirit Aid is committed to ensuring that all children and vulnerable adults are kept safe while engaged in services organised by the project.
Spirit Aid aims to enhance the quality of life of the people it supports through trusting relationships and therefore should take place in an environment where the health, wellbeing and safety of children and vulnerable adults is protected. Staff, volunteers and other agencies involved with Spirit Aid will work together to protect children and vulnerable adults from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
The purpose of this policy and its associated procedures is to help protect the children and vulnerable adults engaged with Spirit Aid, and to protect Spirit Aid staff, elected members and volunteers.
Spirit Aid accepts the moral responsibility to safeguard the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. We aim to do this by:
- Respecting and promoting the rights, wishes and feelings of children and vulnerable adults.
- Raising the awareness of the moral responsibilities relating to children and vulnerable adults engaged with our service.
- Promoting and implementing appropriate procedures to safeguard the well-being of children and vulnerable adults to protect them from harm.
- Creating a safe and healthy environment within all our services, avoiding situations where abuse or allegations of abuse may occur.
- Recruiting, training, supporting or supervising staff, elected members and volunteers to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, and minimise risk to them.
- Responding to any allegations of misconduct or abuse of children or vulnerable young adults as well as implementing, where appropriate, the relevant disciplinary and appeals procedures.
- Requiring staff, elected members and volunteers to abide by Spirit Aid’s Children and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy.
- Reviewing and evaluating this Policy document on a regular basis.
This policy is based on the following principles:
- The welfare of children and vulnerable adults is a primary concern of Spirit Aid.
- All children and vulnerable adults irrespective of their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, socio-economic status, religious belief and/or sexual orientation have the right to protection from abuse.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns about abuse and the responsibility of Spirit Aid and the Police to conduct, where appropriate, a joint investigation.
- All incidents of alleged poor practice, misconduct and abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
- All personal data will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018.
Staff and Volunteers
Spirit Aid is committed to ensuring that any vulnerable people, whether children, young people or vulnerable adults, are protected and kept safe from harm while they are with staff and volunteers in this organisation. To achieve this, we will ensure our staff and volunteers are carefully selected, screened, trained and supervised.
- All applicants be they prospective staff or volunteers will complete an application form.
- Short listed applicants will be asked to attend an interview.
- Short listed applicants will be asked to provide references, and these will always be taken up prior to confirmation of an appointment.
- Where relevant to the post, the successful applicant will agree to an appropriate disclosure. Enhanced Disclosures from Disclosure Scotland will be requested prior to the applicant taking up a post requiring direct contact with clients of Spirit Aid.
- The successful applicant will receive induction training, which will give an overview of the organisation and ensure they know its purpose, values, services and structure.
- Relevant training and support will be provided on an ongoing basis and will cover information about their role, and opportunities for practising skills needed for the work.
- Training on specific areas such as health and safety procedures, identifying and reporting abuse, and confidentiality will be given as a priority to new staff and volunteers, and will be regularly reviewed.
- All staff and volunteers will have a designated supervisor who will provide regular feedback and support.
- Every member of staff and volunteer of Spirit Aid will attend an annual review, where their performance, skills, motivation and expectations will be discussed. Annual reviews will be minuted and copies made available to the member of staff/volunteer.
A person may abuse or neglect a child or vulnerable young adult by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children and vulnerable adults may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting; by those who are known to them, or more rarely, by a stranger.
Recognising abuse is not easy, and it is not the responsibility of Spirit Aid staff, elected members or volunteers to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place or if a child or vulnerable adult is at significant risk. However, we do have a responsibility to act if we have a concern. Every child and vulnerable adult is unique and it is difficult to predict how their behaviour will change as a result of their experience of abuse.
It is generally accepted that there are five main forms of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect and financial.
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm.
Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child or vulnerable adult whom they are looking after. A person might do this if they enjoy or need the attention, they get through having to care for someone with an illness (Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy). Physical abuse, as well as being a deliberate act, can also be caused through omission or failure to act to protect.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child or vulnerable adult such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child or vulnerable adult’s emotional development. It may involve making them feel or believe that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children or vulnerable adults. It may also involve causing children or vulnerable adults to frequently feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of a child or vulnerable adult.
Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child or vulnerable adult, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of, or consent to, what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative acts such as rape, buggery or oral sex or non-penetrative acts such as fondling.
Sexual abuse may also include non-contact activities, such as involving a child or vulnerable adult in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children or vulnerable adults to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child or vulnerable adult’s basic physical and/or psychological need, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child or vulnerable adult’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, leaving a young child home alone or the failure to ensure that a child or vulnerable adult gets appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child or vulnerable adult’s basic emotional needs.
Financial abuse can be defined as including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
This may include:
- Misappropriation of money and/or other assets by various means such as theft or fraud.
- Transactions to which the person could not consent, or which were invalidated by intimidation or deception.
- Misuse of assets to meet the legitimate needs of a vulnerable person.
- Non-use of assets to meet the legitimate needs of a vulnerable person.
Financial abuse may be opportunistic or may be planned. The victim may have been deliberately targeted because of their vulnerability.
Examples of this include:
- The perpetrator befriending the victim and then using their position of trust to gain financially from the victim – moving into their home to ‘care’ for them, becoming their appointee with power of attorney.
- Being over charged for services or tricked into receiving goods or services that they do not want or need.
It is important to recognise in some cases of abuse; it may not always be an adult abusing a child or vulnerable adult. It can occur that the abuser may be a young person or a vulnerable adult, for example in the case of bullying. Bullying may be seen as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves.
Although anyone can be the target of bullying, victims are typically shy, sensitive and perhaps anxious or insecure. Sometimes they are singled out for physical reasons – being overweight, physically small or having a disability. Belonging to a different race, faith or culture can result in overt racism.
Bullies come from all walks of life, they bully for a variety of reasons and may even have been abused. Typically, bullies can have low self esteem, be excitable, aggressive and jealous. Crucially, they have learned how to gain power over others and there is increasing evidence to suggest that this abuse of power can lead to crime.
Responding to Disclosure, Suspicions and Allegations
These procedures inform all staff, elected members and volunteers of what actions they should take if they have concerns or encounter a case of alleged or suspected child or vulnerable adult abuse.
Spirit Aid staff and volunteers may come across cases of suspected abuse through their direct contact with service users. It is not your responsibility to decide whether a child or vulnerable adult has been abused. It is however your responsibility to report your concerns to the Director of Spirit Aid. Our primary concern is to ensure any relevant information is passed to the police or social services without delay. These organisations have a statutory responsibility to make enquiries, to establish if a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of harm.
Actions to take
Abused children and vulnerable adults will only tell people they trust and with whom they feel safe. By listening and taking seriously what the child or vulnerable adults are saying, you are already helping the situation. The following points are a guide to help you respond appropriately:
- React calmly so as not to frighten them.
- Take what the person says seriously.
- Avoid asking direct questions other than those seeking to clarify your understanding of what the person has said. They may be formally interviewed by the police or social services and they should not have to repeat their account on several occasions.
- Reassure the child or vulnerable adult but do not make promises of confidentiality which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments.
- Explain to them that you will have to share your concerns with someone who is in a position to act.
- Tell them they are not to blame and that they were right to disclose the information.
- Record in writing all the details that you aware of and what was said using the child or vulnerable adult’s own words, as soon as possible. In your records you should include:
- The date and time.
- The service users name, address and date of birth.
- The nature of the allegation.
- A description of any visible injuries.
- Your observations –description of behaviour, physical and emotional state.
- Exactly what the service user said and how you replied as accurately as possible.
- Any actions you took in response to the disclosure – and to whom you passed on your concerns.
- Sign and date the recording
- Store the recording appropriately in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
Actions to avoid
The person receiving the disclosure should not:
- Dismiss the concern.
- Allow their shock or distaste to show.
- Probe for more information than is offered.
- Speculate or make assumptions.
- Make negative comments about the alleged abuser.
- Make promises or agree to keep secrets.