Module 3: Volunteering practicalities

Find out everything you need to know to carry out your volunteering role, from understanding health and safety to claiming expenses.

Welcome to Module 3

Hear about what you can expect in Module 3 from Parkinson's UK volunteer Elisabeth.

    What you'll learn

    You've joined a team of committed volunteers and staff who work together to find a cure for Parkinson's and improve the lives of those living with the condition. So, while you may be new to the organisation and are finding your feet, you're not alone.

    Parkinson's UK welcomes, encourages and values volunteers. We do our best to provide everything you need to know to carry out your volunteering role, from understanding health and safety issues to explaining how you claim expenses.

    This module might take you longer to do than others, so do tackle it in stages and at your own pace. We recommend talking to your staff contact about which sections are relevant to your role.

    You might also find that this module is more serious than others as the activities contain really important information.

    At the end of this module, you can expect to be able to:

    • know what resources can support you in your role and explain why they're important
    • have an awareness of health and safety issues affecting your volunteering
    • identify and explain why some behaviour and decisions can be detrimental to Parkinson's UK

    Task 1: Things you need to know

    By now, you probably have a good idea of what Parkinson's UK does and who the organisation supports.

    Click on the drop downs below to find out about each of the issues, from claiming expenses to our policies on equality, and talk to your staff contact about which issues apply to your role.

    Equality and diversity

    At Parkinson's UK, we're committed to promoting equality and valuing diversity in our work and organisational culture, including volunteering. We welcome volunteers from diverse backgrounds and work to ensure equal opportunities for all.

    As a volunteer, you're also responsible for creating this culture of inclusion at Parkinson's UK. So, signing up to become a volunteer means carrying out your volunteering in a way that reflects the organisation's approach to equality and diversity.

    More about equal opportunities and diversity

    Equal opportunities and diversity policy (PDF, 248KB)

    Data protection

    Under the Data Protection Act 1998, Parkinson's UK has legal obligations whenever it handles personal data. This is information that identifies a living person which is held on a computer (such as in electronic files, emails, or databases) or an organised filing system (including paper files in a filing cabinet or an archive box).

    Personal data could include someone's name, address, email address, telephone number and date of birth. Under the Act, we need to make sure the information we keep about people is good quality, relevant, up to date, protected and secure.

    Particular care must also be taken when handling sensitive personal data as more restrictive requirements apply to this type of information. This includes details of someone's racial or ethnic origin, political opinions or religious belief and sexual orientation, among others.

    People have a right to request any personal data we hold about them and can do so by contacting our data protection officer.

    If your volunteer role involves handling personal information, you must sign a confidentiality pledge.

    It is important to report any data protection-related incidents to your staff contact as soon as possible so that any adverse effects can be minimised. Do speak to them if you have any questions or concerns about this issue.


    The charity owes a legal duty of confidentiality to the people we hold information about. That means restricting access to information to those who 'need to know'. Parkinson's UK does not sell personal data, and in general does not share it with third parties unless it is legally obligated to or has someone's consent.

    Confidentiality is also an essential principle of the services we provide. So, to ensure that the people and organisations we work with trust us, it is vital that you understand what information we can and can't share.

    As a volunteer, someone might share personal information with you in the course of your role. For example, a carer could discuss their finances. You must be careful not to share this information with others who don't have a strict need to know as it can easily become gossip.

    Confidentiality is still important even if a situation might seem informal. Your staff contact can help with anything that you're concerned about around this issue and other formal support is available to volunteers in certain roles.

    If your volunteer role involves handling confidential information, you must sign a confidentiality pledge. If this applies to you, your staff contact will give you a form to sign.

    Do report confidentiality-related incidents to your staff contact as soon as possible so that any adverse effects can be minimised. Speak to them if you have any questions or concerns about this issue.


    We take people's safety very seriously at Parkinson's UK. That means everyone who works or volunteers for the charity, or represents us, needs to show care and integrity to the people we connect with.

    Safeguarding is about keeping vulnerable people safe, especially adults at risk of abuse, while protecting and supporting those who work and volunteer for us. It is important that you are aware of what to look out for and what to do if you're concerned about someone you meet through your volunteering.

    Please read our safeguarding volunteer guides for more information about what to do if you become aware of a safeguarding issue:

    Talk to your staff contact about who to call in your area if you have a safeguarding concern.

    If you are unable to reach them, or you are not a volunteer or group member and have any safeguarding concerns, please contact the designated protection officer on or call 0344 225 9853.

    Claiming volunteer expenses

    We don't want your volunteering for Parkinson's UK to disadvantage you in any way, including financially.

    So we'll reimburse all reasonable expenses that you incur when you carry out your volunteering activities for Parkinson's UK, according to our volunteer expenses policy.

    Ask your staff contact for a volunteer expense claim form and submit your receipts with it.

    More about expenses

    Volunteering and benefits

    If you are claiming state benefits, inform Jobcentre Plus about your volunteering. We can provide a letter confirming you are a volunteer if you need it.

    In most cases, state benefits should not be affected if you are a volunteer. If you're claiming state benefits, you're allowed to receive expenses as long as they only cover out-of-pocket costs. If there's any kind of profit, your benefits could be reduced or suspended.

    Speak to your staff contact if you would like to know more.

    Induction, learning and development

    This online induction aims to make you feel welcome, comfortable and supported in your role. You can ask your staff contact any questions about volunteering at Parkinson's UK.

    We will provide opportunities for you to learn, such as training and networking events. These will help you perform your volunteering role effectively and give you an opportunity to expand your role if you want to.

    Speak to your staff contact to find out more.

    Support from Parkinson's UK

    We appreciate and recognise all volunteering contributions, no matter how big or small, in ways that are meaningful, from sending thank you cards to featuring case studies in our communications.

    Your staff contact is there to support you. Do discuss any issues and concerns that you may have with them, as well as your progress, any successes, and your learning and development needs. Other formal support is available to volunteers in certain roles.

    Your staff contact can also help with any adjustments you might need if your circumstances change, such as wheelchair accessible venues or having a chair at events.

    Speak to your staff contact to find out more.

    What to do if you have a problem

    We hope that you won't experience any problems while you're volunteering, but know that issues can arise sometimes. For example, perhaps you're experiencing a problem involving another volunteer or are struggling to carry out your role.

    Our problem-solving policy and procedure provides a framework for how we try to solve problems involving volunteers in an open, fair and timely manner.

    Speak to your staff contact to find out more about how we can support you to resolve any problems you're having in your volunteering role.

    More about problem-solving

    Problem solving policy (PDF, 208KB)

    Giving feedback and making a complaint

    We want to hear all your feedback, whether it's positive or negative.

    You can give us your comments, complaints or compliments about anything to do with Parkinson's UK, in the following ways:

    Moving on from your volunteer role

    We hope you enjoy being a volunteer for Parkinson's UK. However, we know that sometimes people want to move on from their volunteer role, for a wide variety of reasons.

    If you want to do this, please inform your staff contact, giving as much notice as you can. You will be asked to complete a moving on questionnaire to help us to learn from your experience.

    There may be times when Parkinson's UK will need to end a volunteer role because of changes in circumstance, funding or organisational structure. If this happens, you'll have as much notice as possible.

    You will also have the opportunity to discuss how you feel with your staff contact. Where possible and appropriate, you will be offered an alternative volunteer role.

    You can find out more about moving on in module 4.

    Task 2: Health and safety

    We want you to feel safe and secure in your volunteering role. And we have a moral and legal duty to make sure you do.

    Our health and safety procedures and policies cover everything from things to bear in mind when you're organising an event to staying safe on the roads. They outline how we'd like volunteers and staff to work together to minimise risk or injury.

    Please read these slides that give an introduction to health and safety - it should take you around 20 minutes.


    Going more in depth

    Next, talk to your staff contact about which of the following issues are relevant to your role and complete the tasks that might be helpful. They should each take you between 20 and 30 minutes.

    Driving safely

    Whether you've had your licence for 50 years or 5, we'd really appreciate it if you could read this information on staying safe when you're driving on Parkinson's UK business. It will help to remind you of legal requirements and personal safety tips.

    Volunteer safe driving and vehicle policy (PDF, 240KB)

    Assessing risk when you're planning an event

    What's a risk and what kind of health and safety issues do you need to bear in mind when you're organising an event for Parkinson's UK? These slides will help you form a checklist of things to consider.

    Sitting at a desk correctly and safe manual handling

    You can cause damage to your body if you don't sit at your computer correctly and if you lift a heavy object in the wrong way. This training addresses both of these issues and will help you minimise the risk of injury.

    Health and safety in the office

    It's important to think about any hazards when you're volunteering in an office environment, from too many plugs in a socket to overstocked cupboards. This training highlights things to look out for.

    Personal safety

    From things to think about if you're on your own to what to do if you're worried about someone's behaviour, read this document to find tips for keeping safe while volunteering.

    Volunteer personal safety guidance (PDF, 177KB)

    Task 3: Being an ambassador

    'We' at Parkinson's UK includes staff and volunteers, working together. We're all working to find a cure for Parkinson's and to improve life for everyone living with the condition.

    Our common values are at the heart of everything we do, and form the basis of how we work together to achieve our aims.

    As a new volunteer, it's important that you familiarise yourself with the values and to bear them in mind when you're representing Parkinson's UK. If you haven't already, you can familiarise yourself with the values that define Parkinson's UK in Module 2.

    Why do we ask you to do this? Because even your smallest decision or action as a volunteer can have a wider impact on the charity.

    You may be familiar with the 'ripple effect'. Click through these slides and see how the concept can be applied to your volunteering.

    Module 3: Top tips

    1. Remember that the information in this module is here to support you at any time. Some of it might not apply to your volunteering at the moment but could be useful in the future.
    2. Speak to your staff contact if you have any questions about Parkinson's UK policies and procedures that can support you in your volunteer role.
    3. Look out for real life stories of volunteers who are great ambassadors for the charity in your regional Parkinson's UK publications, publications like the The Parkinson magazine, our website and Facebook page.
    4. Let your staff contact know if any changes to your health mean you need adjustments to be made to support your volunteering, from dietary requirements to transport to events.