Last month, I wrote about my intention to start volunteering and my disappointment at the lack of variety in the roles available.
After a prolonged search, I finally found two positions that I thought I could do, and so I contacted the charities. Four weeks passed, with no response.
Finally, the intermediary company that has been helping me find a placement got in touch to find out about my progress and I quickly explained nothing had happened. It then contacted the charities on my behalf.
The next day I had a response from one charity which said it hadn’t received my initial request. After a brief chat, when I explained my intention to go ahead despite the delay, I was told I’d need to come in for a meeting.
And so came the first hurdle. As I work full-time, I explained it would be difficult to fit within her 9-12, Monday to Friday time slots. Which meant I’d have to take holiday in order to attend.
After reluctantly agreeing to do this, along came the next challenge: the dreaded CRB check.
I’ve read about the problems with CRB checks in Third Sector, but I didn’t quite expect them to be so arduous. I’m sorry for any third sector professionals reading this blog that know what’s involved, but those who don’t, at the meeting I would need to supply:
• Either my passport, birth certificate, driving licence (photocard plus paper)
• Plus two of the following: my marriage certificate, a utility bill (not more than three months old), financial or credit card statement, council tax statement, vehicle registration document
• At least one document should show my date of birth, and at least one show my current address (not more than three months old)
• As I married recently I would need to bring the marriage certificate as well as something showing my maiden name
• Then, I need to bring details of any addresses I have lived in during the past five years, without any gaps
• Then, finally, I have to give the name and contact details of someone who would be willing to provide a character reference for me and, if I am willing to do the occasional drive, let them see my driving licence and car insurance.
I can fully appreciate the need to be careful, because I may be visiting vulnerable people who need protecting – and they don’t know me from Adam. But it does seem completely excessive to have to supply all this information just to drop off someone’s shopping once a week.
The lady I was speaking to was hugely apologetic – she is probably used to a less-than-positive response.
I’m determined to do this so I’m willing, if not happy, to comply. But I can completely appreciate how other well-meaning, would-be volunteers would be put off. Something has to be done to reduce the red tape involved.
I’m afraid if the other charity does ever reply to my request and asks for the same procedures, I might not be so willing.