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To cancel volunteering...

(34 Posts)
littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 20:41:53

I've recently started volunteering with a local second hand shop. I had a five minute induction last week, had my first "shift" towards the end of the week.

The work isn't too strenuous, mainly involves folding and steaming clothing and then tagging it. I can't use my initiative because I've been told nothing about how the shop runs - I got given 3 black bags of clothing last week, told to take the tags off every single one and then put the same coloured tags straight back on but without pricing them.. Everything I do I have to ask "Shall I.. Do you need.. Would you like.." .. In the end they sent me home early as they said there was nothing else for me to do (was supposed to do 4 hours, I did 3)

The charity's website said they have a policy of paying all basic expenses for volunteers. I travel in 8 miles, paying £6 a day, asked the management about this. They said as I won't work "full time" I'm not entitled. They said I can't work more than I am (max 2 or 3 mornings a week) as they've too many employees and volunteers.

£6 a day, i.e. £20 a week for 3 shifts, is a lot of money for me as I have no income other than DLA and need to cough up over 1k by September for rent.. plus other expenses e.g. clothes, toiletries..

I spoke to my no-nonsense, child of the war gran last weekend who pointed out that if I'm going to bother travelling it should be for a paid job that I'd get something out of.

I'm a bit worried about work experience - however, I want to work as a holistic health type therapist or something (not sure how better to label it) and am kind of wondering what sort of w/e I am getting out of this - apart from maybe having a referee who can vouch for me being willing to work!!

(To put this all in context, I'm 22, haven't done any paid work since 16 despite endless applications/speculative letters, went direct from school to uni and then during uni ended up with MH issues/family issues so never been able to work..)

I have done a bit of voluntary work as it is although mainly with teens and children - worked with lower years at secondary school when I was in sixth year, have done two formal school placements, worked with Girlguiding for 6 years and have worked with teenagers online for a year (counselling them on sexual health and relationships).. I also have a "management" role in a uni society.

But surely if when I graduate uni next summer, and start searching for a job any prospective employer won't take on someone who hasn't been employed for years??

What would you do, would you quit?

AIBU to phone them up and say that I've changed my mind? Think I'll feel a right cow for letting them down sad and wont ever be able to show face in the shop again but maybe it's what I need to do?

soontobeburns Sun 14-Jul-13 20:48:25

I would try and volunteer somewhere else tbh. I volunteered for a year in my local charity shop when studying and it was great, but like yourself I didnt get travel paid. If It wasnt for the craic I wouldn't of stayed.

Tbh I say this but I could of wrote your post myself so cant really advise.

nennypops Sun 14-Jul-13 20:49:36

If they've got too many volunteers, then definitely offer your services somewhere else where they are definitely needed.

mrscumberbatch Sun 14-Jul-13 20:51:16

I'd keep it going until you find something else but i think it would be wise to find something more relevant to your studies....

I'm not sure what holistic health therapist is, but maybe look at volunteering in a care home or a respite centre if that's the line of work that you're interested in>?

As an employer, irrelevant experience is the same as no experience when I'm looking for candidates.

littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 20:56:26

Mrscumberbatch neither am I to be honest :D! I wrote out "I want to be a therapist/counsellor of sorts who does talking therapies but also massage and aromatherapy and stuff" but that doesn't sound very professional!!

Care home could be a better idea actually, might have a look around when I get back to uni (which is based more centrally and in a city) and see what I could do. That would be a lot better and more relevant.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 14-Jul-13 20:56:37

I agree with looking for somewhere else to volunteer. I have two voluntary jobs which I love, and it does cost me money to do both of them. I could claim expenses for one, but I see it as part of my donation.

Before I found these voluntary jobs I tried others, for equally worthwhile charities, but the jobs just weren't for me, so I left and found something else. It is ok to do that, voluntary positions should give back to you as well.

The work experience aspect is probably giving you more than you think. The work ethic it will show on your CV is priceless because it shows you are committed, and you will have experience of dealing with the public and plenty of other skills I'm sure.

There's nothing wrong with leaving this job, but have a look at your local volunteer centre first to help you find the right position.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 14-Jul-13 20:58:38

If you are interested in talking therapies, maybe look into being a Samaritan. It's a big commitment though because you get a lot of training, and they won't want to train you if it's just for work experience for a future job.

hermioneweasley Sun 14-Jul-13 21:01:39

What sort of job are you wanting to do when you graduate? Is your degree linked to your desire to be a therapist?

littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:03:16

Yes have thought about that, in fact I got quite close to volunteering with childline. The only reason I've never quite gone for it is because for the best part of a year I've been seeing a psychologist, still am, and am worried that might count against me. That is, if they found out.

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:09:32

What about befriending in some capacity.

Google your county plus volunteer centre, there will

littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:10:55

My degree is slightly linked - it's an English and Linguistics degree.

It's also, perhaps, a mistake. It's a good mistake because I suppose it's good to have a degree - but, I started uni with the intention of being a teacher and when that fell through, I ended up doing the degree I am now.

I say it's a mistake because over the last year I've come to realise it's not closely related to the career I want to go for. I have thought about doing something inbetween the two (e.g. speech therapy) but the nearest uni that offers speech therapy is 200 miles away from home, don't feel confident enough to move that far.

But then I've met friends through uni and gained life skills so it's not all a mistake..

When I graduate I'm planning on going into some sort of full time work (maybe library work, or classroom assistance or something, unless I can get work at a counselling centre or something like that) and doing distance learning courses in order to get the necessary qualifications.

To be honest most of my plans are probably not feasible and rely on a job being available when I graduate, which probably won't be the case.

I do have some contacts within the field I want to go into, have a family friend who did similar work so I feel I might be better off asking those people about work experience/shadowing etc.

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:10:58

Be a website or you can call or pop on, they'll run a database of all local oppertinities and will help you find something

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 14-Jul-13 21:13:30

"The charity's website said they have a policy of paying all basic expenses for volunteers. I travel in 8 miles, paying £6 a day, asked the management about this. They said as I won't work "full time" I'm not entitled. They said I can't work more than I am (max 2 or 3 mornings a week) as they've too many employees and volunteers."

That makes me a bit hmm. I would probably contact the webmaster and point out that the information on that page is misleading and suggest it be updated. Then sit back and see if the management at your location are claiming your expenses and not passing them on to you. (Yes, I am that cynical.)

taleteller Sun 14-Jul-13 21:13:52

If their website says they pay basic expenses for volunteers you should contact their Head office and ask them why they hadn't made it clear that this only applied to full time volunteers. Few volunteers would be full time so this sounds a bit hmmmm to me.

It doesn't sound like their attitude towards you as a volunteer was very welcoming at all and for this reason alone I would not go back. I would of course contact them to say you did not wish to continue, and say if they needed you to come in for your "shifts" you would do so for up to 4 weeks (or whatever you can manage) which would give them time to sort out a replacement. They may well say they don't need you by the sound of it but at least you will have offered.

Dont make excuses or feel bad about it, - why not say that there was a misunderstanding and you had expected travel costs to be paid and cannot afford to continue in the longer term if they are not. Thinking about it, I would follow this up in writing, to confirm whatever you agreed, and copy the Head Office with your letter (referring to the travel cost info on the website) so they learn how to treat volunteers' expectations better in future.

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:19:42

clouds check with the organisation you work for, you might be able to claim and donate back your expenses plus gift aid.

The volunteers I manage can do this. It also helps with budgets as 10 volunteers who don't claim could be replaced by 10 that do which makes planning tricky!

Inthebeginning Sun 14-Jul-13 21:26:22

Could you volunteer at a hospice? At our local one they do aromatherapy etc so you might be able to get into things that way? Or ask your local volunteer bureau what there is available? Or maybe schools/sure start in their sensory rooms?

Inthebeginning Sun 14-Jul-13 21:30:00

Also look at the rowan organisation for jobs/ befriending etc. I would cancel the volunteering if I were you. There are far more deserving places, and ones that want people far more too.

babyhmummy01 Sun 14-Jul-13 21:35:14

if you want to 'pad out' your CV and are not averse to kids then look on the girlguidinguk website or scouting one as they are always looking for volunteers (Am a brownie leader who would LOVE more help). It looks fantastic to employers and generally is very local. Expenses etc aren't generally paid but you choose how much you want to be involved from just turning up to be a pair of hands to becoming a full blown leader if you want it. PM me for more details if you want

Kernowgal Sun 14-Jul-13 21:41:16

What they all said about the full-time only for expenses thing - how ridiculous. Also that info should have been made clear to you before you even came to work on the first day.

Have you thought about volunteering with a horticultural therapy charity such as Thrive? This could have added benefits if you are interested in aromatherapy as you could also learn about the plants on which aromatherapy is based.

There are many many horticultural therapy charities across the UK; there are also gardens that work with volunteers with special needs or physical disabilities. Even if you didn't fancy doing the physical work I'm sure they would welcome help with admin and suchlike.

Eyesunderarock Sun 14-Jul-13 21:45:52

You need to tie in your volunteering to something that will link to your goal of being a 'holistic health type therapist or something'
Have you looked at this site? You can see what's available in your area that matches your interests more closely.

SueDoku Sun 14-Jul-13 21:50:15

OP, I really am not trying to rain on your parade in any way, but I'd forget about library work. I've just retired from the profession, and we were getting applicants for 7-hour posts who had Masters in Librarianship... Over 3,000 libraries have closed in the last 3 years - that's a lot of unemployed library staff sad

Your idea of contacting friends/family who work in the field that you'd like to go into will probably be better for your future prospects. Good luck for your future career..! smile

ilovesooty Sun 14-Jul-13 22:15:58

If you want to work using talking therapy distance qualifications don't provide appropriate training for professional practice. I'm also a little concerned that you mention the possibility of volunteering with Child line and imply that you might not disclose your personal involvement with therapy to them, especially as your mental health situation
entitles you to claim DLA.

AnnaFiveTowns Sun 14-Jul-13 23:48:08

Why don't you try your local CAB. They give good training and always need volunteers.

kreecherlivesupstairs Mon 15-Jul-13 06:50:38

It sounds as if everyone is pissing on your plans. BUT, I'd also rethink your teaching assistant plans.
My sister is one, there was a vacancy at her inner London bog standard junior school for a .75 TA.
3000 people applied for it give or take.
Good luck with the rest of your course.
And to answer your OP, no YWNBU to cancel your volunteering.

pingulingo Mon 15-Jul-13 06:59:57

Speak to your university careers office too - the couple I've been to also arrange volunteering and placements too. Does your university have a jobs website/listings? They tend to have local volunteering opportunities listed as well as suitable job vacancies for whilst you are still studying.

I think the fact that you are planning ahead and also putting the extra effort in to volunteer too will really help boost your cv and future job hunting. Good luck.

Also the do-it org website is great for searching for local volunteering - lots of different opportunities and I'm sure you could find something more aligned to your future career plans here too.

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