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VOLUNTEERING IN THE WEA

SECTION 1: INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS

Contents
FORWARD ........................................................................................................................................... 3 WELCOME ........................................................................................................................................... 4 ABOUT THE WEA ................................................................................................................................. 4 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ........................................................................................................ 5 VOLUNTEER CODE OF CONDUCT ........................................................................................................ 6 VOLUNTEER RELATED POLICIES .......................................................................................................... 6 FEEDBACK, COMPLAINTS and GRIEVANCES........................................................................................ 7

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FORWARD
We would like to welcome you to the WEA and thank you for committing your time and energy to volunteering with us. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the WEA and we genuinely value the skills, enthusiasm and many hours given by volunteers as you directly support a significant part of the WEA’s National, Regional, branch and local operations and activities. Without volunteers many of our events, services and programmes would not exist and the relationships you develop with staff, tutors, students and supporters are invaluable. We hope that you will find the resources that make up this handbook a useful and accessible tool to help you, whatever your role in the WEA. It has been constructed in a number of sections to make it more user friendly and so that it can be kept fully up to date. The sections are: 1. Information for volunteers 2. Information for branches 3. Information about Region specific processes and practice 4. Information about Governance 5. WEA Policy documents 6. Useful ‘How To..’ guides These sections have been developed as a guide based on existing good practice and are intended to support you in your role not provide a regimented framework. The WEA relies on the creativity of its staff, tutors and volunteers to be responsive in local communities. Very few things in the WEA are mandatory but where necessary these are clearly identified in the handbook. If you wish to suggest improvements in terms of content or structure please contact the Membership and Volunteer Development Manager. The handbook will be regularly reviewed and updated and your comments will be taken into account. As the WEA seeks to raise its profile and speak up for adult learners we want to engage our volunteers as much as possible and we look forward to working with you for many years to come. Your work in the WEA will be increasingly important as we re-confirm our commitment to working in our local communities as well as regionally, nationally and internationally. By working together, true to the values of the WEA and with the solidarity of all involved, we will continue to achieve great things.

Colin Barnes WEA President

Ruth Spellman WEA General Secretary

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VOLUNTEERING WITH THE WEA
WELCOME
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with WEA. We hope you find this handbook useful in supporting your decision to get involved. Volunteers are at the heart of the WEA’s activity and vital to our work. Individuals, local communities and the Association all benefit from the networking and influence that arises out of volunteering. All volunteers contribute to the WEA charitable mission by giving their time freely and making a difference in their communities but these efforts also enable volunteers to develop their own skills and interests, and can lead to long standing friendships, more active social participation and, for some, employment.

ABOUT THE WEA
The WEA is the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in the UK. Founded in 1903 to support the educational needs of working men and women, the WEA has maintained its commitment to provide access to education and learning for adults from all backgrounds, and in particular those who have previously missed out on education. The WEA is a national charity supported by the Government through funding from the Skills Funding Agency in England, and in Scotland by the Scottish Executive and Local Authorities. The WEA also raises funds from a variety of other sources including donations and legacies, the European Union, National Lottery and by working in partnership with local groups. The WEA is made up of nine Regions and the Scottish Association. In 2012 it updated its vision and mission statements and agreed to prioritise its work into four key areas of Employability, Health and well-being, Community engagement and Cultural studies. Vision: “A better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society” Mission:  Raising educational aspirations  Bringing great teaching and learning to local communities  Ensuring there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning  Developing educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged  Involving students and supporters as members to build an education movement for social purpose  Inspiring students, teachers and members to become active citizens Approach We deliver our mission by developing partnerships to meet individual and collective needs, using active learning and a student centred approach in which teachers and students work as equals. We constantly strive to adapt our services to meet people’s needs, making full use of technology. Values  Democratic; Equal; Inclusive; Accessible; Open More information about the WEA’s structure and current activities can be found at www.wea.org.uk which is updated regularly. 4

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a volunteer? Anyone who is actively involved in the work of the Association, and gives their time freely without pay, is regarded as a WEA volunteer. There are many different roles, from providing local support to students and tutors to being a member of a WEA branch committee or part of WEA governance. Volunteer roles can be long or short term, many hours or just a few. It all depends on the individual position and the willingness of the volunteer. Do I need any special skills? Many roles require nothing more than enthusiasm and commitment while others involve certain skills. Information about some common activities can be found in the Exemplar Role Descriptors but volunteering opportunities will vary with location. In many cases we will be able to provide training so that volunteers can develop new skills to take on different roles. If I volunteer, will it cost me money? Although you do not get paid for volunteering, you can claim reasonable expenses that are accompanied by appropriate receipts. Our policy is to ensure that these are paid promptly, so that you are not out of pocket. If you are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance you must advise your Job Centre that you are volunteering. Reassure the Employment Service that you can be contacted while volunteering and state that you can leave your volunteering with one week’s notice. It might also be helpful to explain that the opportunities arising through your volunteering (i.e. training and experience) may help you gain paid work outside of the WEA. What happens to my personal information? The WEA is covered by the Data Protection Act and all personal details are held on our secure database and information systems. We will not release your personal information to anyone except where we are legally obliged to. How much time do I need to commit? This is entirely up to you. Some roles, such as classroom support need a specific time commitment of several hours per week but there are opportunities to help, with events for example, which are short term defined commitments. Talk to your local WEA staff and volunteers to see what opportunities are available locally. What happens if I can’t attend as promised or I want to leave? You are under no obligation to keep volunteering. In some roles, such as classroom support, we ask for a specific time commitment but if you can’t make a particular meeting or session just let your key contact know. One of the joys of volunteering is being part of a team, such as a branch committee, and generally people work together to make sure all the necessary tasks are completed on time. When you stop volunteering for the WEA we will usually ask you to complete an ‘exit survey’ to find out why you are leaving; for instance because you have secured paid employment or have personal commitments. If you feel unhappy with your experience of volunteering for the WEA please let us know. We may be able to identify other volunteering situations which might be more suitable. If you feel that something is seriously wrong or someone is treating you badly please get in touch with your key contact as soon as possible. We have procedures in place to deal with these issues and want to ensure the wellbeing of all involved.

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VOLUNTEER CODE OF CONDUCT
The code of conduct forms part of the WEA Policy for Developing and Sustaining Volunteers. As a volunteer, there are a number of policies that will be useful to you and the Code of Conduct is a summary of these, setting standards of the behaviour that is expected. We ask that you agree to abide by the Code of Conduct as a general condition of becoming involved as a volunteer. If you are unsure about anything ask your key contact or a member of staff before going ahead. By working within the guidelines of the Code of Conduct you will be contributing to the success and accomplishments of your WEA programme. Remember…… These guidelines are in place to ensure your safety and the programme organiser’s safety as well as that of those around you. They are not designed to be restrictive in any way. The WEA wishes to provide a professional service but we also want you to enjoy your time volunteering. The time you give is very much appreciated and many activities and classes would not happen without your valuable assistance, so we really want you to have a good experience. WEA members and volunteers are subject to the Memorandum and Articles of the Association and accompanying regulations, including those relating to Finance. Volunteers are expected to: • Uphold the ethos and values of the WEA and act in the WEA’s best interests by being reliable, honest and mindful of the WEA’s reputation • Treat everyone they meet, when representing the WEA, with courtesy and respect. • Act in accordance with the WEA’s policies and procedures including health and safety and equal opportunities, in relation to staff, volunteers and students - seeking clarification from a member of staff if necessary • Volunteer within an agreed role description and meet the time commitments and standards which have been mutually agreed, letting us know when this is not possible so that other arrangements can be made • Respect confidentiality, except if a safeguarding issue demands disclosure • Provide referees when requested and agree to a Criminal Records Bureau check being carried out where necessary • Keep in regular contact with designated WEA personnel (volunteer and/or staff)

VOLUNTEER RELATED POLICIES
Health and Safety The organisation is committed to providing you with both a safe working environment and safe ways of working. Everyone has a responsibility to help achieve the safety goals. You are required to take reasonable care in the course of your work in a manner which ensures your own health and safety and that of others. Please be aware of and follow all safety information, instructions and any training you have received when you are on duty. The following safety responsibilities apply to everyone:  Co-operate with the staff on health and safety matters  Only use equipment if you are authorised to do so 6

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Understand any emergency arrangements for the activities you are carrying out and the venues where you are working Take due care when lifting and carrying heavy items Wear protective clothing when required Report any potential hazards to your key contact or staff member Remove yourself from and warn others of imminent danger

FEEDBACK, COMPLAINTS and GRIEVANCES
We are always pleased to receive suggestions, compliments and other feedback because they help us improve our support for volunteers. There are several ways you can contact us  Through your local support team or regional office  Contact our Suggestions Line on 0800 013 1903, or email us at suggestions@wea.org.uk to tell us what you like or suggest improvements  Complete surveys or take part in telephone interviews if asked  Make a complaint if you feel there has been a problem. If you feel there has been a problem and would like to make a complaint contact your nearest Regional Office telephone, letter, fax or email and state that you want to complain. Give as much information as you can about what has happened, including times, dates, places and names. Complaints will usually be referred in the first instance to your Regional Director, who will involve other people where appropriate. You will get a first response within one week of receipt of your complaint, and a fuller response within four weeks. Our full Complaints Procedure is available to download from our website, or contact your Regional Office. If you have a grievance we will make every attempt to resolve it informally. If this is not possible then the process laid out in the volunteer policy will be followed.

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