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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge


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Volunteer Policy

Murray Edwards College is committed to offering opportunities, where appropriate, to local people who wish to volunteer.  Volunteering adds value to and builds capacity for the services Murray Edwards College provides.  Volunteers supplement the work of paid employees; they should not be engaged as substitutes for paid employment or replace previously paid staff.  Volunteer agreements are for up to one year.  This is to provide regular volunteering opportunities for those interested in volunteering.  This document defines the terms and sets out the principles, practices and procedures which Murray Edwards College will follow in the appointment, management and control of volunteers.

Volunteers may be described as individuals who put their experience, knowledge and skills at the disposal of an organisation, free of charge, with the primary aim of helping the organisation to achieve its service objectives and/ or with the primary aim of bringing some benefit to the local community.  In this sense, volunteers are to be distinguished from students, other work placements, and secondees, where the primary aim is usually for the student or secondee to obtain certain work experience or to carry out work or research in certain areas.

Murray Edwards College is committed to equal opportunities and believes that volunteering should be open to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, religion and political beliefs.  The acceptance of volunteer assistance for a particular role is made on merit, the sole selection criterion being the individual’s suitability to carry out agreed tasks.  Acceptance of a volunteer will be by the head of department in which that volunteer will be working, with the agreement of the Bursar.  All volunteers will be asked to produce details of two referees to be checked and will be invited to attend an informal interview will have a role description which will be prepared in conjunction with the volunteer and their supervisor, will be properly inducted into the College and will be properly briefed about the activities to be undertaken and given all the necessary information to enable them to perform with confidence.  Volunteers will not normally be recruited for tasks which involve working with children.

Training & Development
All volunteers will be made aware of and have access to all the College’s relevant policies, including those relating to volunteering, health & safety and equal opportunities.  The training for volunteers will be considered on a case by case basis by the College where the individuals wishing to become volunteers are not otherwise suitably equipped them with the necessary information and skills to carry out their tasks.  It will be the responsibility of the supervisor to assess training needs and put a case for providing training. If provided by the college, it is the responsibility of the volunteer to attend relevant training.

Support & Supervision
Volunteers will have a named person to whom they can take their volunteering concerns and seek guidance and support.  This will enable both the volunteer and a member of the College staff to identify, monitor and evaluate the volunteer’s involvement, recognise achievements and identify individual training needs, including that relevant to their particular volunteering role.

The College’s volunteers are able to claim reasonable out of pocket expenses, subject to the production of receipts as evidence of the expenditure.  What can be reclaimed from the organisation and the calculation of expenses will be explained to the volunteer before they start any activity likely to give rise to expenses.  It is the responsibility of the supervisor to make volunteers aware of the procedure for the reimbursement of expenses.

The College’s liability insurance covers the activities of volunteers, and volunteers are also covered by accident insurance.  However, the College does not insure the volunteer’s personal possessions against loss or damage.

Confidentiality & Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk
It is not the college’s policy to recruit volunteers in relation to work with children or adults at risk.  If in exceptional circumstances such volunteer work is agree, the volunteer’s supervisor will advise the volunteer on its confidentiality and safeguarding children and adults at risk policies and procedures, where relevant.  

Resolving Problems
The relationship between Murray Edwards College and its volunteers is entirely voluntary and does not imply any contract.  However, if volunteers experience difficulties, the College has the following complaints procedure for volunteers.  This is designed to resolve difficulties and will be completed within 30 working days of the volunteer raising a problem.
1.     Initially, the volunteer should request a meeting with their supervisor.
2.    If this does not resolve the difficulty, then the volunteer may raise the matter in writing with the HR Manager or another Senior College Officer.
3.    If the HR Manager considers it necessary, s/he may investigate the issue/s and provide a written response to the volunteer within 15 days.
4.    If after this, the matter is still not resolved to the volunteer’s satisfaction, the volunteer may raise the matter in writing to the Bursar of the College.

Rights & Responsibilities
The College recognises the rights of volunteers to:
•    Know what is, and what is not, expected of them;
•    Have adequate support in their volunteering;
•    Receive appreciation;
•    Have safe working conditions;
•    Be insured;
•    Know their rights and responsibilities if something goes wrong;
•    Receive relevant out-of-pocket expenses;
•    Receive appropriate training;
•    Be free from discrimination;
•    Be offered the opportunity for personal development

The College expects volunteers to:
•    Be reliable;
•    Be honest;
•    Respect confidentiality;
•    Make the most of training and support opportunities;
•    Carry out tasks in a way that reflects the aims and values of Murray Edwards College;
•    Work within agreed guidelines;
•    Respect the work of the College and not bring it into disrepute;
•    Comply with the College’s policies.