Churches have a long tradition of working with, and being supported by volunteers and many churches rely on volunteers to carry out tasks which, if they were salaried, would not be done. Volunteers look after the flowers, sing, bell ring, open the church doors, cut the grass and more. The Church of England also reaches out to the wider community through its volunteers who help run drop-in centres, support groups, and community centres.
Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and the range of skills they bring is limitless. They give time, support and energy for the benefit of others without expectation of financial reward, although it is sometimes appropriate to offer out-of-pocket expenses.
Volunteers can be an untapped resource in a congregation or community and, as with all relationships, there are responsibilities on both sides which should be clearly defined from the beginning.
However some churches feel reluctant to engage volunteers because of perceived difficulties with legislation, supervision and health and safety issues.
For advice and further information on all this areas, please follow the links below.
The Church Urban Fund has a really helpful toolkit of advice available here. The resources offer a range of suggestions and templates to help make working with volunteers as effective as possible. The guidance is divided into 7 broad sections, each with a guidance sheet, supported by adaptable samples or templates. See also their publication Faithfully Volunteering.
Volunteering England is the national volunteer development organisation for England. They work across the voluntary, public and private sectors to raise the profile of volunteering as a powerful force for change. Their website is a one-stop-shop for volunteering, either as a volunteer or as a manager. There is advice about legal issues around volunteering, about screening and checks, recruitment, management, and retention. See fact sheets here and advice on volunteer management. Some limited information on funding and awards is here.
The Directory of Social Change runs courses in Volunteer Management.
Other resources- Volunteer, dos and don'ts by Stewardship
More Volunteering Opportunities
Heritage Camps is a volunteering programme for young people aged 16 to 25. Camps often take place in church buildings over the summer holidays and aim to encourage young people to volunteer in their local community whilst learning about the history and importance of historic buildings.
Insurance - Speak to your insurer to check your volunteers are covered. Volunteers are generally regarded as employees under liability insurance cover. See Ecclesiastical's advice here.
Child Protection & Safeguarding - The Church of England is committed to the safeguarding, care and nurture of everyone within our church community. All dioceses have an appointed diocesan safeguarding adviser, who can be consulted, and who can direct those with local safeguarding responsibilities to appropriate training and guidelines. Further information and guidance can be found here.