Roles and Responsibilities training for Volunteers

Please read the training material below and then go back to the previous page.

Session Overview

Learning Objectives

By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Describe your volunteer rights and responsibilities
  • Explain why it is important to volunteer in ways that are agreed with your volunteer coordinator and how and when to raise any concerns you may have
  • Explain why it is important to be honest and identify where errors may have occurred and to tell the appropriate person
  • Describe your responsibilities to the people you support
  • Describe why it is important to volunteer within a team and in partnership with others

Your Role

This session will look at your role as a volunteer as well as your expected behaviours and standards. In particular, we will discuss responsibilities – not only the responsibility you have for the person or people you support, but also the responsibility you have for yourself. It is important to be kind to yourself, particularly if you are new to volunteering, and to recognise that your experience and confidence will increase the more you carry out your role. Do not worry about mistakes or getting it wrong – your fellow volunteers, as well as your volunteer coordinator, are there to support you.

Looking After Yourself and Others

If you exhibit any symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, cough or shortness of breath), or if those you live with are unwell, you must stay at home.

You must also stay at home if you are an individual who is ‘shielded’.

During the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Let family and friends know what you’re doing
  • Support family, friends and neighbours by phone or video call
  • Stay at least 2 metres – about three steps – away from people you’re helping
  • Offer to run errands for people but stay outside of people’s homes
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds at a time (see the NHS video below)
  • Don’t take on too much – it’s often better not to offer at all than to let someone down
  • If you’re trying to help someone with very serious issues and you are worried about them, make sure you contact your volunteer coordinator for advice on what to do

Role Description

This component displays an image gallery with accompanying text. Use the next and back navigation controls to work through the narrative.

An important document in understanding your role is your role description. This tells you what your main duties and responsibilities are and who you report to. Ask your volunteer coordinator for a copy if you do not have it. You should know what is expected of you and also what is not included in your role.

It will be almost impossible for a role description to list every task you will do but it should give a good overall picture of your role.

There are certain kinds of duties that might be in your role description.

Providing Care and support – Volunteer in a person-centred way, Communicate well, Build relationships and promote equality and diversity.

As you develop in your role you will continue to build on your knowledge and skills. Your Manager should support your learning and development.

Volunteering as part of a team – Be a supportive team member and be willing to develop your skills to improve volunteering experience.

Respecting confidentiality – Do not discuss any personal information about individuals with unauthorised people. Ensure records are stored correctly.

Contributing – Contribute to activities in a safe way, Keep to rules and regulations, follow the agreed way of volunteering

Experiences, Attitudes and Beliefs

Your experiences, attitudes and beliefs are part of what makes you who you are. They affect how you think, what you do and how you do it. Your background, upbringing, education, experiences and relationships will all have played a part in the way you see things.These attitudes and beliefs may have led you to choose to volunteer but sometimes they could lead you to assume things about people that are not right. It is important that you develop self-awareness so that you can learn to check that this does not happen.

Take a moment to think about how beliefs and attitudes are defined.

  • Beliefs can be described as things in life that you feel strongly about, that guide you in your daily life and are linked very closely to your morals and values
  • Attitudes are the approaches, opinions and mindset that you have developed through your upbringing and life and learning experiences

You should take time to learn about and understand the different attitudes and beliefs of others so that you can work with individuals in a way that takes these into account. It’s important to understand what your organisation wants to achieve as it will help you to understand your own role. Your organisation will have values, aims and objectives.

Values – are the beliefs or ideals that should be evident in all aspects of the service you provide.

Aimsare the general goals that an organisation hopes to achieve through their activity. The purpose of your role will be to continue to achieve these.

Objectives – are specific things that must be in place in order to achieve the aims.

Your Responsibilities

There are many pieces of legislation that exist to protect everyone from harm and to make sure everyone is treated fairly.

Health and safety

You have the right to:

  • Volunteer in an environment that is safe
  • Be provided, free of charge, with the equipment that you need to keep you safe in your volunteering role

Policies and procedures

With those rights come responsibilities. Your organisation will set down policies and procedures or tell you about the agreed ways to volunteer in ways that are safe for you, those you volunteer with and the people you support. You must volunteer in the ways that you are told by your organisation.

Confidentiality and Equality Training

Data Security Awareness


It is important as a volunteer to know how to protect people’s rights to confidentiality. We recommend that you complete the data security session within the Volunteer Learning Passport where you learn more around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how it relates to your volunteering role.

Equality, Diversity and Human Rights


The Equality Act gives all people in the UK the right to be treated fairly and be afforded equality of opportunity.

We recommend that you complete the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights session within the Volunteer Learning Passport to understand the relevance of equality and diversity and find out more about protected characteristics.

Expectations and Boundaries

Your organisation will tell you the safe and agreed ways in which you are expected to volunteer. If you are directly supporting someone, your volunteer coordinator will provide you with the information you need to know to enable you to meet the needs of that person. You have responsibilities to the people that you support. You must ensure that:

  • Their safety and welfare is protected by ensuring you support them in agreed safe ways
  • The person you are supporting is involved in any decision making – don’t presume you know best
  • They are treated fairly and that their rights are upheld by supporting in ways that promote equality and diversity and uphold their dignity and human rights

Volunteers have to be careful to stay within the boundaries of their role. As part of your volunteer activities, your volunteer coordinator will agree with you what is and isn’t included within your role as a volunteer. It is important that you stick to this agreement. Can you think of any examples where a volunteer may break boundaries within their role?

Examples of breaking boundaries could include:

  • Lending money to the person you are supporting
  • Giving out your personal private details
  • Connecting with the person you are supporting on social media
  • Meeting socially outside your agreed volunteering hours/role
  • Making promises that you cannot fulfil through your volunteering role
  • Being involved in their private financial affairs
  • Giving advice you are not qualified to give

Although well meaning, it is essential that you are clear about your role and boundaries with the person you are supporting. Stepping outside your boundaries as a volunteer will be treated very seriously.

Making Mistakes

We are all human and mistakes sometimes happen. When mistakes are made it’s important to be honest and identify where errors have happened. This will allow:

  • Action to be taken that may reduce the impact of the mistake
  • Lessons to be learnt through thinking about and agreeing what went wrong

You have a responsibility to report things that you feel are not right, are illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties. This is known as ‘whistleblowing’. Your organisation should provide or explain their whistleblowing policy.In most cases, you should discuss your concerns with your volunteer coordinator. However, if you felt that it was not appropriate to speak to your volunteer coordinator for some reason, you should follow your organisation’s whistleblowing procedure.

Working in Partnership

Your role could involve you dealing with many people who have a variety of roles. This is known as ‘partnership working’. Developing good relationships will help to improve the quality of the support provided.

There are three main working relationships in health and social care:

  • Individuals and their friends and family
  • Colleagues, managers and people from other organisations
  • Volunteers and community groups

All relationships should involve mutual respect and should value other people’s skills and knowledge with a focus on working together in the best interests of the person receiving support.

The importance of people working together should not be underestimated. Serious case reviews (which are the reviews carried out when an adult with care or support needs dies or comes to significant harm) often identify failings within partnership working as being a key factor in what went wrong.

Good communication between everyone is essential.

Volunteers and colleagues must trust, value and respect one another, having belief in everyone’s ability to work together to achieve shared goals. For communication to be good and effective, it must be open, accurate and understandable.

Ways of communicating and language must be right for the person so you can be sure that they understand what is being said. Volunteers should avoid using jargon which can be misunderstood.

When working with people who have communication needs, it may be necessary to consider translators, pictures or communication boards to support them to communicate well.

Advice and Support

There may be times when there is disagreement between people from different agencies or between the person receiving care and support and those who support them.

Conflict that is not resolved can affect the quality of care. You should ask for advice about partnership working and resolving conflict whenever you face any problem. You can also ask your volunteer coordinator who has the skills and experience to advise you.


We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you’re feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.

Session Summary

Key Points

  • Your role description outlines your duties as a volunteer
  • Volunteering in agreed ways with your organisation ensures you work within the law and provide support that meets the need of the person
  • Reporting errors means action can be taken to reduce the impact of the mistake and lessons can be learnt
  • You must protect the safety and welfare of the people you support
  • You must also ensure your own health and safety and take responsibility for your actions within your role
  • A working relationship involves mutual respect and value of other people’s skills and knowledge with a focus on working together
  • Developing good relationships with other volunteers and organisations helps to improve the quality of support provided



Sign up to receive monthly updates

Share your story