Volunteering FAQs

If you have a question about volunteering for us, please take a look below for the answer you’re looking for. 

I don’t have much time – can I still volunteer?

Yes. Some of our volunteering opportunities are for one-off events, some are for set amounts of time, and others are flexible. For regular volunteering roles that involve supporting someone living with mental illness, we ask that you make a commitment for six months so you and the person you’re supporting can get the most out of the experience.

What will I do as a volunteer?

There are many different ways you can volunteer with us, these include:

  • Directly support people living with mental illness, either one-to-one or in a group.
  • Become a media volunteer and share your story to help raise awareness of mental health issues and challenge attitudes.
  • Tell us about your skills and experience, so we can match you to an opportunity. For example, you could volunteer in one of our offices or do some gardening for a person living with mental illness.

How old do I need to be to volunteer?

  • To provide one-to-one support to a person living with mental illness, you will need to be 18 or over.
  • For other roles, you will need to be 16 or over. People under 18 will need consent from their parent or guardian.
  • There is no upper age limit for our volunteers.

Will I need a DBS (criminal record check) check?

A DBS check is a Disclosure and Barring Service check and looks at whether you have a criminal record. DBS checks are free for volunteers. Not all volunteer roles need a DBS check. If your role requires one, we will discuss it with you.

I have a criminal record – can I still volunteer?

Yes, but you will need to tell us about your criminal record when you apply for a volunteer role. You may be asked to complete a DBS check if your role requires it. If you have a criminal record, we’ll make a case-by-case decision about whether or not you can volunteer in a certain role. We may also consider alternative suitable roles for you.

Will volunteering affect my benefits?

Volunteering may affect your benefits, so we suggest you ask for advice from your Job Centre or employment advisor.

Will volunteering cost me anything?

No. We’ll pay you agreed out-of-pocket expenses that you incur whilst volunteering for us (eg travel / meals / other relevant costs)

Will I have to attend an interview?

If your volunteering role involves directly supporting someone with a mental illness, you will need to attend an informal interview. For other roles, eg those that involve volunteering in an office or at an event, we may just need to talk to you about what you’ll be doing.

Will I need to give references?

If your volunteer role involves supporting people living with mental illness, we will ask you for the names of employment or character referees. References are not needed if you are volunteering at a one-off event.

Will you provide me with a reference when I have finished volunteering with you?

Yes. You can ask for a reference when you stop volunteering, or sooner if you need one for a job or college application. We will confirm the dates you volunteered and what your role involved.

How long does it usually take from applying to starting a volunteering role?

We aim for volunteers to start their role within four weeks of applying for it. However, DBS checks and references can mean it might take longer. Throughout this process, we will keep you updated on progress.

What training will I get as a volunteer?

You’ll get an induction in your local area with the team you’re volunteering with. Depending on your role, you may also receive extra training, which will be discussed with you.

What support will I get?

You will be given the details of a Volunteer Manager who you can go to for help, support and guidance. Your Volunteer Manager will also regularly contact you to see how you’re doing.

If you still can’t find the information you need, please get in touch with our Volunteering Team on hrservices@rethink.org or call 0121 522 7111. They’d love to hear from you.