Volunteering FAQs

Why does Dorothy House involve volunteers?

We love volunteers being part of what we do, because…

  • people want to help
  • they enable us to deliver services which we otherwise could not afford to
  • they help us to keep costs down and therefore services free for patients
  • some services are better delivered by volunteers
  • they bring ideas, skills and experiences to complement those of paid staff
  • it helps us keep in touch with the community

Volunteers enable us to deliver additional services worth an estimated £1.5 million.


How many volunteers do you have?

720 people involved in retail. 270 in the Hospice and community, 70 members of fundraising ‘Friends’ groups and 15 Trustees.


Do you pay expenses for volunteers?

Yes, reasonable out of pocket expenses such as bus fares or car mileage will be reimbursed.


Do you need to have previous experience to be a volunteer?

It depends on the role. Some volunteer roles, such as Bereavement Workers and Complementary Therapists require you to have a relevant qualification and experience. However, for most of our roles, we just need you to have the right attitude, to be committed and willing to learn.


What is the minimum time commitment for a volunteer?

Some roles require as little as four hours per fortnight, while others demand a greater commitment. For further details see the relevant Role Description and Person Specification.


How long are volunteers expected to stay in their role?

Some of our volunteers have been with us for over 35 years. But we don’t expect that of everyone. We usually encourage people to think of it as a commitment for at least one year. This is to ensure that you get the most out of the experience and that we get a good return on our investment in recruiting and training you. Often people will move from one role to another.


What sort of training do you offer?

All volunteers and staff are required to attend the Dorothy House Core Induction (1.5 days) and to complete several online training modules – these are a requirement of our contract with the NHS. Some roles require you to attend further special training. You will also have the opportunity to shadow another volunteer until you feel confident in the role.


What sort of screening do you do for volunteers?

We always follow up references for volunteers. Some roles also require Disclosure and Barring Service checks and others demand an Occupational Health check.


What is your minimum age for volunteers?

Our minimum age is 16. Sometimes we will take on people as young as 14 if they are part of an organised programme such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Some age restrictions may apply to certain roles.


What is your maximum age for volunteers?

There is no specific upper age limit for volunteering with us but many roles require volunteers to be physically fit and some are subject to Occupational Health checks.


Can I volunteer even though I have been recently bereaved?

After losing someone close to you we recommend that you wait at least 12 months before applying to volunteer in a Hospice. You may, however, like to consider helping out in one of our shops.


Can I volunteer even though I have a criminal record?

Having a criminal record will not necessarily exclude you from volunteering with us. It depends on the role that you are applying for and the nature of your offence. Hospice volunteer roles are excluded from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 meaning that applicants and their referees are not entitled to withhold information about convictions. We will therefore ask applicants to disclose spent or unspent convictions. These details will be treated in confidence.


Do you take Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme students?

Yes, usually in retail. Contact your local Dorothy House shop to see whether they can help.


Can you accommodate groups of people who wish to volunteer as a one off?

We are sometimes able to host groups of volunteers – usually in retail. Please contact us to discuss this further.


Do you take on people for work experience?

These opportunities are very limited but we do help where we can. If you can make a regular commitment then volunteering is a great way to get work experience. But if you are looking for a short-term work opportunity, please contact us.


What is Investors in Volunteering?

Dorothy House has held Investing in Volunteers Accreditation since 2006. This quality mark assesses our volunteer programme against a set of good practice criteria such as: commitment to volunteering, diversity of volunteers, fairness of recruitment processes and quality of support and supervision.