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Do you know any charities etc I can volunteer for who WON'T ask my employer for a reference?

(34 Posts)
MidlifeMuddle Sat 19-Jul-14 11:41:56

Hi All,

After many years of working long and hard in a demanding career, I've signed myself off on endless extended sick leave whilst I work out what I'm doing with my life.

I've always wanted to volunteer to 'give something back' and now seems like a good time to do so.

The only problem is, I really don't want anyone to ask for a reference from my current employer as
a) I'm off sick as far as they're concerned and they may not want me volunteering
b) I don't want them knowing what I'm up to
c) I may go back to work for them if I don't find anything else to fulfil me/once I'm over my Midlife Muddle!

All my details can be checked instantly online and I'm on various professional websites etc. I can also provide as many personal references, CRB checks etc. as required to prove I'm safe and normal-ish!

Given the above, do you know of any charities etc who will let me volunteer for them in my spare time?

I'm based in Barnet and love driving and doing practical things!

Thanks,
M

BackforGood Sat 19-Jul-14 11:51:17

I don't know of any charities / organisations you would volunteer for that would ask your employer for a reference - nothing to do with work, unless you want it to be.
That said, I think I'd be a bit miffed if I were taking up the slack because you were too ill to work, to hear you were looking for things to do to fill your time. hmm

rallytog1 Sat 19-Jul-14 11:54:35

I'm sorry about your circumstances. but if you're too sick to work, you're too sick to work. Your employer doesn't pay you sick pay so you can go and work for someone else. Yes, volunteering is work.

Your intentions are commendable, but you either need to address the issues that are making you too sick to work, or resign.

You also need to be aware that volunteering isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Like any workplace, there can be stress, politics and all sorts of crap. If you can't commit to a certain length of time or undergo training, you may also find it hard to find an organisation or group who would take you on. Using volunteers normally represents an up-front cost, and it can take many months before the organisation's balance sheet actually benefits from the work of a volunteer. So you also need to think about whether you'd actually be genuinely giving something back if you're only seeing volunteering as something to keep you going through a period of sick leave.

ParsingFlatly Sat 19-Jul-14 12:05:28

rallytog you do grasp that "work" covers more than one possible activity, don't you?

Unless you think, say, doing bookkeeping for a charity from bed every few months is the same as heavy lifting on a building site? Or volunteer driving three mornings a week is the same as a 60 hr week as a city lawyer?

Appletini Sat 19-Jul-14 12:05:43

"I don't know of any charities / organisations you would volunteer for that would ask your employer for a reference"

I needed two references for my volunteering role and one had to be an employer.

I agree with rallytog1 also.

ParsingFlatly Sat 19-Jul-14 12:10:01

(I'm assuming the OP is in fact sick and being flippant about it, rather than just a bit fed up and wanting a paid sabbatical.)

Sunnymeg Sat 19-Jul-14 12:13:14

DH had great trouble volunteering to help a charity because they insisted he have an employers reference. He works for a multinational company and all their HR is dealt with centrally. It is company policy not to give references for volunteer work. The charity got very awkward about this and demanded DH provide proof of this in writing. It took him over three months to get this, and then he had to provide other suitable referees so it ended up being about six months before he was actually allowed to help a sports charity for an hour and a half once a week.

What about people who don't work (and aren't on benefits) who want to volunteer?
Silly system

treaclesoda Sat 19-Jul-14 12:15:15

appletini slightly off topic, but out of interest, what would have happened if you couldn't provide a reference from an employer?

For years I worked for a large company who had a 1) no references at all, for anything, ever, policy and 2) expected you to get written permission from them before becoming involved in anthing outside of work (studying, volunteering, church organisations, anything really). They were very controlling. And if they did allow you to volunteer or do charity work they wanted you to wear a company t shirt to make it look as if they were contributing to it

If I'd wanted to volunteer somewhere and they'd chased my employer for a reference I'd have been in a very tricky situation.

rallytog1 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:20:30

Yes I do. But if your employer is paying you sick pay, you should not be doing work for someone else instead.

Ratfans Sat 19-Jul-14 12:27:15

Agree with rallytog.
My sick leave policy specifically states you can't work elsewhere whilst on sick leave, and if you get caught doing do it's a sackable offence.

TouchPauseEngage Sat 19-Jul-14 12:41:10

I worked at a small local charity. We asked for personal or work references. The nature of volunteering means you will often have people applying for roles who can't work right now for whatever reason and we understood that there may have been things they didn't want to share.

That said, after a particularly unpleasant situation with a volunteer who had many many issues and tried to cause some severe problems for the charity we did start to phone referees rather than accept written copies as we discovered hers had been faked.

Regarding being fit to volunteer equalling being for to work- I disagree. When had an awesome volunteer who couldn't work due to mental health problems. She openly admitted that she could only cope with volunteering at that time because she didn't have the same pressures as the paid employees at the charity. She also mentioned that she could cope with the politics and tensions in the office because she knew she wasn't paid to be there.

MidlifeMuddle Sat 19-Jul-14 12:41:57

Thanks for your replies.

I naively thought I may just be able to turn up somewhere and help out while I could but nevermind, back to the 'what AM I going to do?!' drawing board...

WaffleWiffle Sat 19-Jul-14 12:45:40

To volunteer with Girlguiding you do not need an employers reference. You need two references (and a DBS check) but they can be personal references.

I have volunteered with Girlguiding for the last 15+ years. However, when I had an extended period of sick leave from my employer, I also stopped volunteering with my Brownies unit.

To me, it seemed morally wrong to have been at Brownies when not able to do my normal job.

But when I eventually stopped working (and had 12 months on benefits), I resumed volunteering with at my Brownie unit.

MidlifeMuddle Sat 19-Jul-14 12:46:07

TouchPauseEngage Sat 19-Jul-14 12:41:10
Regarding being fit to volunteer equalling being for to work- I disagree. When had an awesome volunteer who couldn't work due to mental health problems. She openly admitted that she could only cope with volunteering at that time because she didn't have the same pressures as the paid employees at the charity. She also mentioned that she could cope with the politics and tensions in the office because she knew she wasn't paid to be there.

Thanks - that sounds similar to my situation smile

ClashCityRocker Sat 19-Jul-14 12:47:45

Would it be possible to ask your employer for a sabbatical so you could try out other options?

Then it's all above board and you have the option to return. It all depends on how understanding your employer is.

If you are signed off due to mental health issues, you may be able to get a GP to write a letter of support as to why doing voluntary work will be helpful in getting you to where you need to be.

TouchPauseEngage Sat 19-Jul-14 12:49:55

Good luck - hope you find somewhere. I should add, for what it's worth, that I left the charity because of the politics, pressure and stress (the two charities I've worked at have been the most stressful office environments) so possible helping out at events or in an ad hoc way might protect you from some of that!

ParsingFlatly Sat 19-Jul-14 12:52:39

Yes, completely second the getting the GP to state that [insert suitable choice of] voluntary work will be therapeutic for you, assuming this is true.

Unless the employer's a twat who caused all your problems in the first place, of course...

I do some charity work here on mumsnet, with woollyhugs. if you can sew, knit or crochet you maybe able to help.

also I am a charity recyclable collector for count the kicks charity. I collect items from my area that can be sent of and sold to raise money for the charity. maybe have a look on the web and social media and see if there's anything you can do for different charity's.

Realitybitesyourbum Sat 19-Jul-14 13:04:56

Surely if you can't work, resign? You say you have signed yourself off work, do you mean a doctor has? Or you have? Are you receiving sick pay? If you are not able to manage to work, then just say so , resign, and find something else that you are able to manage. Why do you think it is ok to keep stringing your employer along, causing endless difficulties for them in not being able to replace you properly and not knowing if/ when you are going back to work. Sick leave should be used to get better so you can return to work, not as an extended holiday and time to work out your mid life crisis. It's a bit selfish.

wubwubwub Sat 19-Jul-14 13:20:39

Join Girl Guiding - they have load of roles to suit your level of ability to 'commit' you can be a unit helper to a district commissioner! smile

https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/get_involved/volunteer/register_your_interest.aspx

phantomnamechanger Sat 19-Jul-14 13:35:21

I have been where you are OP, I was off from my teaching job with stress/depression/acute anxiety and the county's occupational health advisor actually suggested (eventually, not straight away) that I did some voluntary work in a charity shop to get me used to being with people again (I had become quite phobic/anxious about going out alone or even answering the door/phone) - it was quite a while ago but I don't recall needing any references at all, and they snapped me up. It was really very helpful to me in making me feel less wretched and worthless, and giving me my confidence back in a very gentle environment.

I hope you find something.

shock at PPs employer who requires them to have consent to join up for any volunteer work or church activities outside of work - how can this be so?

phantomnamechanger Sat 19-Jul-14 13:39:06

wub - a brand new guiding volunteer is hardly going to be made district commissioner LOL! But yes that's one option, we are desperate for helpers in my division - only most units will not be meeting now until the schools go back and OP wants something now.

phantomnamechanger Sat 19-Jul-14 13:43:56

Sick leave should be used to get better so you can return to work

OP obviously does not want to give away too much detail, but in my case, it was actually my employer's occupational health dept who suggested volunteering as a way of helping me to get better.

Obviously your boss would not look too kindly on you being off sick as a builder and then helping your cousin renovate their house, or off sick as a shop assistant and then working in a charity shop next door instead. I got the impression OP is looking to volunteer doing something very different from her work role.

wubwubwub Sat 19-Jul-14 13:46:45

phantom - shush :p

she might be the next one in a few years! ;)

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