Lancaster University Students’ Union has developed a free volunteering brokerage service to facilitate high quality volunteering opportunities between current students of Lancaster University, and approved community organisations.
The success of this brokerage service depends on a respectful, pragmatic and reciprocal relationship between community partners and the Students’ Union. These FAQs provide information about the process and practicalities of recruiting student volunteers, as well as offering insights into responsibilities and best practices.
What is the process for working with the Student’s Union?
All organisations that we work with must go through an auditing process before we begin to work with them. This process is led by student staff, and includes a phone conversation and a meeting in person before a decision is reached.
This process allows us to ensure we are delivering high quality volunteering opportunities that are relevant and exciting for students which are in keeping with our values-based approach.
How can I contact the Student’s Union?
The Communities team deals with community volunteering. We can assist with technical difficulties, offer advice and answer any questions you may have.
Call 01524 593765 and ask for a member of the Communities team
Why work with the Student’s Union?
We have a values-based and community-oriented approach to volunteering, and students volunteer through us for a variety of reasons. This includes gaining professional experience and career development as well as making friends, doing good, making positive change and improving wellbeing.
All of the volunteering opportunities that we offer to students embody this approach, and we always have community and togetherness at our core.
Can any organisation work with the Student’s Union?
We can work with most local organisations, but there are some questions that we ask you to consider before registering to work with student volunteers:
Are you able to make sure that students are safe and working in a risk-free environment? Do you have public liability insurance in place?
Do you have the time and staff to manage the volunteers?
Would a student be able to manage the logistics, practicalities and responsibilities of the voluntary work?
If the answers to any of these is ‘no’, or if you’re unsure, then we would ask you to consider carefully whether working with student volunteers is right for your organisation before you register.
Is there a limit to recruitment and volunteering periods?
Yes. All opportunities run for one term (10 weeks), and volunteering must not continue beyond term time. This is because:
It helps us to evaluate the opportunities we support;
We can monitor our students that are currently volunteering;
It allows us to track progress;
It ensures that the opportunities on our website reach new audiences, and helps us to market opportunities if they are refreshed;
It ensures that students do not take on too much work, as they are already managing their academic studies.
If a student expresses in interest in ongoing volunteering with your organisation beyond this time, we are happy to support this.
Do I need to cover travel expenses?
We ask that where possible, you cover travel expenses for volunteers. We also ask that you consider the distance that students may need to travel and whether it is manageable.
What do I do if I have any technical problems?
If you have any problems accessing your profile or using the website, please get in contact with the Communities team (details above).
Can I have more than one opportunity at a time?
The SU takes an approach which profiles organisations, rather than listing specific volunteering opportunities. Because of this, we only post one opportunity per organisation.
If you have several opportunities, we will post one generic listing on the website and discussing different roles with students after they have applied. We will also be well informed of your volunteering needs and will be able to advise any interested students.
How will my opportunity reach students?
Your opportunity will appear as a listing on the Lancaster University Student’s Union volunteering opportunities page here: https://lancastersu.co.uk/volunteering-opportunities
We will promote our opportunities to students via our social media platforms, and we also have a presence at student fairs and departmental events where we discuss volunteering opportunities with students.
Will I need to provide training?
Yes. The students interested in volunteering will feel much more confident and committed if they are supplied with as much information as possible. We ask you to consider supporting them through training and briefing sessions, particularly letting them know who to contact if they need help in their volunteering role.
How are applications managed?
All applications are received by the Student’s Union. Students will attend a meeting with the Communities team, and successful applicants will be forwarded via email to your organisation.
We ask you to respond directly so the student feels confident that their application has been acknowledged. How you proceed after making initial contact will depend on your opportunity and organisation, but we ask you to let them know:
Who you are and what your role is;
How their voluntary work with you will proceed: will you call them or contact them about attending a briefing session? Where and when will they need to report to?
Contact details of a member of staff they can go to for support.
What happens once the volunteering work is completed?
Once you have recruited your volunteers and the voluntary work is completed, you may keep your profile if you intend to continue working with the SU. This is subject to completing an online feedback survey, and to continued Student’s Union approval. We will always contact you at the end of each term to evaluate the volunteering activity which took place.
If you do not intend to continue to work with us to recruit more volunteers, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can remove your profile.
What is the best practice for working with student volunteers?
Keep them informed. Let them know in advance of any special requirements or helpful information for the role, such as clothing or transport. A lot of our student volunteers are international so they may be used to doing things differently.
Students can be very busy so they want to ensure their time is being well spent. Give them enough tasks to keep them occupied and keep them varied if possible. A lot of students also have specific skills which are worth finding out about so you are getting the most out of their time.
Be flexible. Compulsory meetings, deadlines, exams and holiday periods affect students' availability, so it may be useful to discuss this with them early on if they are volunteering regularly. It is also important to keep this in mind when advertising opportunities, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for information about this.
Help their skills. Although a lot of students are motivated by doing good, offering training, responsibility or the chance to learn new skills will make volunteering more attractive to students and also get them more committed to the role.
Show your appreciation for the work they do by offering a reward, recognition, or even a simple thank you. Giving them guidance and support can also help them feel confident in the role and a part of the organisation.