How to Volunteer
We want you to have the best possible experience as a volunteer. The following information will help you get the most out of your volunteering journey whilst studying here at University of Plymouth.
Choosing an appropiate opportunity
Using upsu.com, you can find an array of volunteering ventures that can complement your study programme and social life. Volunteer Coordinators are also on hand in the Hive in the Students' Union building to guide you through your decision making process. Be aware that some opportunities may have restrictions concerning days, times and commitment levels as examples. Please think carefully about the commitment you are able to make (remembering going home for weekends, friends, academic work and exams etc.) and please do not make a commitment you are unable to make. You have the right to change projects and/or to withdraw from volunteering, whilst giving the appropriate amount of notice.
Your rights and responsibilties
As a volunteer you have rights and responsibilities and these should be explained to you when you start volunteering for an organisation. They are designed to give you a voice, and to ensure that your volunteering is of real benefit to yourself and the community. As a volunteer from UPSU, you are acting as an ambassador for us and as such, should behave in an appropriate manner.
Whether you are new to volunteering or a dab-hand, you may like to ask for a 'settling-in' period. This could involve visiting the project a few times before you start, shadowing another volunteer or having a trial period before you commit to longer term involvement. This process will help build your confidence, enable you to find out more about the organisation and get to know others before you start.
Feedback and ideas
We value your thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences! If you have any comments or criticisms about the service we provide or the projects we support, then please let us know.
Volunteers are highly valued by organisations and contribute significantly to their mission and work. It is therefore essential that they are able to rely on you. Please let your organisation/project know if you are unable to attend and inform them of any changes of circumstances that will affect your volunteering.
Whether you are volunteering for a UPSU project, or for an external third sector organisation, UPSU's Volunteering Team in the Hive will always be on hand to provide support and guidance whenever you need it. A meeting can be arranged at any time throughout the academic year using the contact details on the back of this guide. In addition to this, there will be a key person you can talk to within the organisation/project you are volunteering for.
All volunteers are covered by our insurance policy whilst volunteering with activities facilitated by UPSU. In addition to this, all the community groups that UPSU works with have a valid insurance policy and we ensure that you will volunteer in conditions that are safe and healthy.
Please let us know if you experience any problems whilst volunteering, and we will endeavour to help you. You should also talk regularly with the person responsible for you at the project/organisation where you volunteer. This will help you chart your progress and will help to avoid problems.
Socials are a great way to keep in touch with fellow student volunteers and to meet new people on other volunteering projects. Both ViP Student Led Volunteering and RAG run socials throughout the academic year.
Volunteering can be a good way to test your career choices. It is also a great way to develop knowledge and skills which will make you more employable. Make sure you use our online system to record the hours you volunteer and any skills you acquire. These records can be used when completing job applications!. We can also act as a referee for a period of 12 months after you finish your volunteering activities through us.
UPSU does not actively promote overseas volunteering and conservation opportunities, as we do not have the resources and time to assess and check each group to see if they offer a suitable, worthwhile and safe experiences.