Garda Vetting Service

Information on Garda Vetting Service provided by Fingal Volunteer Centre
 
The aim of this document is to distribute information regarding Garda vetting of volunteers and minimise confusion surrounding the service provided by An Garda Síochána.
 
What is Garda Vetting?
 
Garda Vetting is the process by which a Garda Vetting Application Form is submitted to An Garda Síochána Vetting Office asking them to check if a person has any convictions and/or prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, recorded against their name.
 
Do volunteers need to be vetted?
At present, there is no legal requirement to vet volunteers, although this will be introduced at some point in the future. Many organisations choose to make it a policy to vet volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults and / or are responsible for finances. However, most organisations recognise that not all volunteers may need to be vetted. For example, volunteers working in administration, doing practical work, providing professional services or a range of other volunteer opportunities may not need to be vetted as they are not interacting with the clients or directly involved in finance and will never have an opportunity to do so.
 
It is up to the organisation to decide whether or not a volunteer position requires vetting. This should be assessed while the organisation is in the process of developing the job description for each individual volunteer position. Whether the volunteer is being vetted or not it is important to conduct reference checks as these provide vital character reference information that is not available in a Garda Vetting check. (Fingal Volunteer Centre will supply you with in-depth information and training on the process). It is important to remember that Garda Vetting is but one stage of the screening of volunteers. If you require further information regarding screening of volunteers and appropriate methods of recruitment and selection, please contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
Garda Vetting and Volunteer Centres
 
Volunteer Centres Ireland and its member volunteer centres, as part of our commitment to supporting and promoting volunteering have introduced a Garda Vetting service for voluntary and community groups within their local areas. All Volunteer Centres now act as an Authorised Signatory for Garda Vetting purposes for voluntary and community organisations that do not otherwise have access to an authorised signatory. VCI and member Volunteer Centres have developed a number of documents to ensure best practice in and assist organisations with Garda Vetting and an agreement on the service with the Garda Vetting Unit and Data Protection.
 
What is an Authorised Signatory?
 
An Authorised Signatory is a person who has completed the training supplied by the Garda Central Vetting Unit and is authorised to act as the liaison between the organisation requesting vetting and the Garda Central Unit.
 
Will An Garda Síochána vet volunteers?
 
The Garda Central Vetting Unit already provides a volunteer vetting service for most large community and voluntary organisations throughout the country via an ‘authorised signatory’ within that organisation. This means that a member of staff within that organisation has been trained to be the link between the Garda Vetting Unit and the organisation. However, they do not currently have the resources to provide this service to smaller organisations. In response to this, the members of Volunteer Centres Ireland have worked with the Garda Vetting Unit to train a designated staff member in each volunteer centre in each county to act as an Authorised Signatory between local voluntary and community organisations and the Garda Vetting unit.
 
What does this mean for your organisation?
If your organisation does not have access to an Authorised Signatory and you require Garda Vetting, your local volunteer centre can process the vetting paperwork for your volunteers. This paperwork is then forwarded to the Garda Central Vetting Unit.
 
How does it work?
 
For details on the process in your area, please contact your local volunteer centre. In general, to avail of this service:
• Your organisation will be required to register with your local volunteer centre.
• Your organisation will be required to meet with/attend training about the Garda Vetting process with your local volunteer centre.
• Your organisation will be expected to have certain policies and procedures in place before commencing Garda Vetting, for example, confidentiality policy, data protection policy, Garda Vetting policy. Copies of generic polices can be obtained from your local volunteer centre.
• Your organisation will be required to sign an agreement with your local volunteer centre giving them the authority to act on your behalf as an Authorised Signatory for Garda Vetting purposes.
Garda Vetting – a quick guide to the process
 
 
1. The Volunteer Centre will act as the Authorised Signatory on behalf of your organisation.
 
2. Prior to commencing, your Volunteer Centre will give you copies of relevant information documents and forms and will meet with you to discuss your needs
 
3. Once your organisation has signed and returned the required forms, the Volunteer Centre will begin the process of Garda Vetting for you.
 
4. Your organisation will be required to:
• Give volunteers/potential volunteers a copy of the Garda Vetting form and explain how important it is to fill it in correctly.
• Ensure the volunteer returns all individual Garda Vetting forms to you.
• Check each form to ensure that it has been completed properly
• Post the form/s and a completed checklist to the Manager, The Volunteer Centre, (provide full address).
 
5. The Volunteer centre will then submit all forms to the Garda Vetting office. Once the forms have been processed by the Garda Vetting Unit and returned to the Volunteer Centre, the Volunteer Centre will notify your organisation of same in writing or by email.
 
6. Copies of any disclosures will be forwarded to you by post. These forms must be returned to the Volunteer Centre within 3 weeks of being forwarded to you. Failure to return these disclosures may result in a discontinuation of the service.
 

Garda Vetting Service at Fingal Volunteer CentreInformation on Garda Vetting Service provided by Mayo Volunteer Centre

Mayo Volunteer Centre can assist local voluntary and community groups to access Garda Vetting for their volunteers and paid staff.

As of April 29th 2016, the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, 2012 - 2016 is the legislative framework that covers Garda Vetting in Ireland. This act makes it mandatory for people working or volunteering with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the National Vetting Bureau.

WHO MUST BE VETTED- WHAT IS RELEVANT WORK?

Under the Acts, any person whose work or activity involves access to children or vulnerable adults must be vetted. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for a relevant organisation through which they have unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. The act defines “relevant organisation” as one that employs or permits a person to carry out work or activities which mainly consist of them having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable adults.

The work or activities where people working with children and vulnerable adult will require vetting include:

  • Childcare services – see also ‘Further information’ below
  • Schools
  • Hospitals and health services
  • Residential services or accommodation for children or vulnerable persons
  • Treatment, therapy or counselling services for children or vulnerable persons
  • Provision of leisure, sporting or physical activities to children or vulnerable persons
  • Promotion of religious beliefs

There will be a number of roles where you will have to carry out a risk assessment and decide if the position allows the person to build up a relationship of trust with a child or vulnerable adult. 

WHAT IS A VULNERABLE ADULT? 

A vulnerable person means a person, other than a child, who is suffering from a disorder of the mind, whether as a result of mental illness or dementia, has an intellectual disability, is suffering from a physical impairment, whether as a result of injury, illness or age, or has a physical disability, which is of such a nature or degree as to restrict the capacity of the person to guard himself or herself against harm by another person, or that results in the person requiring assistance with the activities of daily living including dressing, eating, walking, washing and bathing.

WHAT IS A RELEVANT ORGANISATION?

A relevant organisation means a person (including a body corporate or an unincorporated body of persons) who employs, enters into a contract for services or permits any person to undertake relevant work or activities, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable adults. A relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person. A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR ORGANISATION?

In Summary:

If your organisation is deemed a Relevant Organisation, you are required by law to vet anyone who is engaged in relevant work before they commence their role.

You are required to verify and keep on file a record of the applicant's proof of identity.

You are required to keep a copy of all vetting disclosures for the duration of your volunteer or staff member's time in the role for which they were vetted.

Evetting is being rolled out on a phased basis. Mayo Volunteer Centre hopes to be moving to Evetting in the coming months. We will keep you informed.

HOW DOES THE SERVICE WORK?

For details on the process please contact Fiona, by calling the Volunteer Centre on 096 71444

In general to avail of this service:

  • Your organisation will be required to register with Mayo Volunteer Centre and to sign up to a Service Level Agreement. You will be required to attend training and abide by best practice in terms of data protection and vetting processes. 
  • A fee is applicable for this service. Details will be provided on enquiry
For more detailed information on vetting legislation in Ireland please see the National Vetting Bureau's FAQ section 

For more information on how to access Garda Vetting via Mayo Volunteer Centre please contact Fiona Cunnane by email or telephone (096) 71444.

Volunteer appreciation and recognition

Volunteer RecongnitionVolunteer Appreciation & Recognition
Appreciation and recognition of your volunteers is a critical piece of any volunteer program. Never assume that volunteers know they are appreciated. Recognition of their contributions should be part of the formal and informal operations of the organisation. Volunteers who do not receive frequent feedback and recognition begin to wonder if they are doing a good job and if anyone cares about the work they do. This often creates an unmotivating climate, and can result in high volunteer attrition. Even if you do not currently have a budget line for volunteer appreciation, there is an investment made by the organisation that includes all the preparation, planning and ongoing support required to effectively manage the people who are your volunteer resources.

Methods of appreciation and recognition can vary widely. It can be formal or informal, public recognition or personal thanks, costly or absolutely free.

Appreciation needs to be tailored for the individual;
- What is the personality and taste of the volunteer you want to thank? You know one person will really enjoy public recognition at a dinner, for example, whereas someone else might find that embarrassing or downright wasteful.
- Get to know your volunteers, their motivations, likes and dislikes. This can provide you with insight into what they will really appreciate.
- Be willing to be open and creative! Try not to get stuck "inside the box". One person\'s ideal appreciation might even be an extra work assignment, or a special task that recognises and utilises their unique skills.

Matching Recognition to Types of Volunteers

Achievement-oriented volunteers
• Ideal result of recognition is additional training or more challenging tasks.
• Subject for recognition is best linked to a very specific accomplishment
• Phrasing of recognition through "Best," "Most" awards
• Recognition decision should include "Checkpoints" or "Records"
• Awardee should be selected by co-workers

Affiliation-oriented volunteers
• Recognition should be given at group event
• Recognition should be given in presence of peers, family, other bonded groupings

• Recognition item or award should have a "Personal Touch"

• Recognition should be organisational in nature, given by the organisation

• Recognition should be voted by peers
• If primary affiliative bonding is with client, not others in the organisation, then the client should take part in the recognition, through a personal note of thanks or as presenter of the award



Power-oriented volunteers

• Key aspect of recognition is "Promotion," conveying greater access to authority or information
• Recognition should be commendation from "Names"

• Recognition should be announced to community at large, put in newspaper
• Recognition decision should be made by the organisation’s leadership

By Style of Volunteering

Recognition might also vary between long-term and short-term volunteers:

Long-term volunteer
• Recognition with and by the group

• Recognition items make use of group symbols
• Recognition entails greater power, involvement, information about the organisation

• Presenter of recognition is a person in authority

Short-term volunteer
• Recognition is given in immediate work unit or social group

• Recognition is "portable;" something the volunteers can take with them when they leave - a present, photograph or other memorabilia of experience, training, etc.

• Recognition is provided via home or work - letter to employer, church, or family

• Presenter is either the immediate supervisor or the client
• Recognition is given in immediate work unit or social group
• Recognition is "portable;" something the volunteers can take with them when they leave—a present, photograph or other memorabilia of experience, training, etc.
• Recognition is provided via home or work - letter to employer, church, or family
• Presenter is either the immediate supervisor or the client

You should note that an "ideal" recognition system  requires a mixture of different procedures in order to have something for every type of volunteer. This is not unusual and is quite appropriate. Many organisations fail to do this, with interesting results. Consider, for example, an all-too-typical organisation that gives its volunteer awards only according to the amount of time donated, a "longevity" prize. If you’re a short-term volunteer how do you feel about this system? Or if your busy schedule limits the time you can offer? Could you possibly ever "win" under these rules? What would this type of award suggest to you about the value that the organisation places upon your own contribution of time?

Different types of appreciation and recognition include:

  • Saying "Thank you!" - in person and with cards or notes.
  • Remembering birthdays or other special occasions .
  • Special occasion surprises or gifts.
  • Annual events such as National Volunteer Week luncheon, Christmas parties summer barbeques or awards ceremonies.
  • Recognition in newsletters or local newspaper profile.
  • Years of service pins or plaques .
  • Name tag pins.
  • Taking the time - to provide orientation and ongoing support .
  • Providing training opportunities.
  • Offering job rotation opportunities for variety or advancement.
  • Asking for volunteer input when developing policies and procedures.
  • Offering letters of reference.

    Formal Recognition Systems
    Formal recognition systems are comprised of the awards, certificates, plaques, pins, and recognition dinners or receptions to honour volunteer achievement. Many organisations hold an annual ceremony in which individual volunteers are singled out for their achievement.
In determining whether to establish such a formal ceremony, consider the following:

    • Is this being done to honour the volunteer, or so that staff can feel involved and can feel that they have shown their appreciation for volunteers?
    • Is it real and not stale or mechanical?
    • Does it fit? Would the volunteers feel better if you spent the money on the needs of the clients rather than on an obligatory luncheon with dubious food?

    • Can you make it a sense of celebration and a builder of team identity?

    Formal recognition systems are helpful mainly in satisfying the needs of the volunteer who has a need for community approval but have little impact (and occasionally have a negative impact) on volunteers whose primary focus is helping the clientele. These volunteers may very well feel more motivated and honoured by a system which recognises the achievements of "their" clients, and also recognizes the contribution that the volunteer has made towards this achievement.


    Informal Recognition Practices

    The most effective volunteer recognition occurs in the day-to-day interchange between the volunteer and the organisation through the staff expressing sincere appreciation and thanks for the work being done by the volunteer.

This type of recognition is more powerful in part because it is much more frequent – a once-a year dinner does not carry the same impact as 365 days of good working relationships. Day-to-day recognition may include:


    • Saying "thank you"

    • Involving the volunteer in decisions that affect them
    • Asking about the volunteer’s family and showing an interest in their "outside" life
    • Making sure that volunteers receive equal treatment to that given staff

    • Sending a note of appreciation to the volunteer’s family
    • Allowing the volunteer to increase their skills by attending training
    • Recommending the volunteer for promotion to a more responsible job
    • Celebrating the volunteer’s anniversary with the organisation.

    The intention of day-to-day recognition is to convey a constant sense of appreciation and belonging to the volunteer. This sense can be better conveyed by the thousands of small interactions that compose daily life than it can be conveyed in an annual event. Recognition can begin quite early with a card of welcome sent to a new volunteer, or a small welcome party.

    Exit Interviews

    VolunteeringJust as there are "introduction" processes volunteers and staff members go through, there should be processes for when individuals end or complete their volunteering. After an individual leaves, the agency should know why she or he left, and get some feedback on her or his volunteer experience. One of the simplest ways to do this is an exit interview.

    At an exit interview, former employees or volunteers are asked for their feedback on the agency and their experiences, and the reason(s) for leaving. An exit interview should be relaxed, and is a good time to recognize someone for their contributions (i.e. a card, gift, or plaque). The purpose of exit interviews is to understand individuals\' perceptions and experiences. Only through this input can agency members best evaluate their programs.

    Exit interviews are also important in instances where employees or volunteers have been asked to leave. This gives individuals a chance to air any grievances, and once again, to provide feedback. If negative evaluations have been given, follow-up is important.

    An exit interview should contain the following information:
    • Volunteer\'s name and the date Volunteer\'s position(s) in the organisation 
    • Total time volunteered (dates and hours) 
    • Interviewer\'s name and signature Reasons for leaving 
    • Positive experiences Negative experiences and things that can be improved / suggestions 
    • Overall satisfaction of experience (give a rate) 

    Thing about these questions

    1. What effective questions could be asked during a volunteer performance evaluation? 
    2. What are the most common reasons volunteers leave your organisation? Is there anything you might do differently to retain them? 
    3. How could you adapt your recruitment, screening, intake and volunteer support process to minimize or avoid the need for volunteer dismissal? 
    4. Under what circumstances would you dismiss a volunteer?
    5. Have you ever needed to dismiss a volunteer? What have you learned from that experience?

    The Risks of Creating a Contract of Employment with Volunteers

    Ivol10ntroduction
    Charities and other voluntary organisations, which allow the distinction between, paid employees and volunteers to become blurred create a real risk for themselves. As has happened in the past, volunteers can successfully assert that they are in fact employees rather than volunteers. A volunteer who asserts that they are an employee, can change from being a positive resource to a potentially large liability. Firstly the boundary between a contract of employment and a volunteering arrangement is an ill defined one and it is possible for a voluntary organisation to cross that boundary without consciously intending to do so. In deciding whether a relationship is one of employment or volunteering the test applied is one of fact. A court/tribunal will look at the particulars of each case i.e. the factual reality, not what you want it to be or intend it to be. The greater pressures on charities to deliver, particularly where contracts have replaced grant-funding means that the input of volunteers may be crucial. That pressure may lead organisations or their local branches or projects to offer inducements to volunteers in order to ensure reliable input. Such an inducement or consideration immediately raises the risk of a contract being created.

    Volunteer or employee, is there a contract?
    In order for there to be a contract of employment three tests must be satisfied. There must be an offer and acceptance leading to agreement; there must be an intention to be legally bound (a contractual intention); and there must be consideration.

    Agreement
    The growth of quite formal written agreements setting out the organisation’s policy towards their volunteers can create difficulties. Volunteer agreements should be carefully checked to ensure that the agreements do not create a contract. In reviewing any agreement words with contractual connotations such as “agreement”, “contract”, “pay”, “holiday” should be avoided. Also avoid using the language of mutual obligations. A contract is much more likely to be implied if the volunteer is expected “to do something in return for receiving something”. The agreement should carefully use a language setting out “intentions”, recalling “policies” and expressing hopes, rather than any more binding phraseology. Insert a clear statement that no contract or relationship of employment is being created, but do not be lulled into thinking that this will solve everything. Even if a clear statement is there, if everything else points to the contrary the court/tribunal will find on the central facts.

    Contractual intention
    The essence of volunteering is that it is a gift relationship. The volunteer can withdraw from it whenever he or she wants. Neither volunteer nor charity can legally force the other party to perform. An intention to be legally bound may be inferred by an agreement, or from custom and practice. A situation may arise where the parties must be presumed to intend that obligation to be binding. If volunteering for a number of days gives certain rights - to free access, privileges, holidays or other encouragement\'s - then even if they may only have a limited monetary value, the court may well take the view that it was intended that the volunteer should have a right to these, i.e. that a legally binding obligation has arisen. In trying to be fairer to its volunteers and give something back to those who give something, many charities are quite understandably emphasising that volunteering brings benefits, but they must do so with caution.  

    Consideration
    Under English Law, every contract needs some form of consideration. Consideration is not limited to payment of cash or wages. A consideration is any benefit received (by the recipient) or any disadvantage or cost suffered by the providing party. This wide definition covers many things that are provided routinely to volunteers, for example benefits such as free entry, free or reduced price use of facilities, discounts on sales, being trained. Potentially fraught is the area of expenses. It is not consideration to repay a volunteer the expenses incurred. However it is our experience that expenses are sometimes used to reward volunteers. In some organisations a standardised travel allowance is paid instead of the actual cost of travel, the difference between the actual travel cost and a larger payment is consideration. A wide range of payments will not create consideration necessary to support a contract, for example genuine ex gratia payments. However the law around such payments is complex. An Industrial Tribunal has accepted in a leading case involving the Auxiliary Coastguards that quite substantial regular payments can be made in circumstances where the rest of the relationship clearly indicates that they are not wages arising out of employment. In this case [Milton and Another v. Department of Transport COIT 5086/44] the tribunal indicated that the nature and organisation of the auxiliary coastguard meant that the payments were genuinely an allowance and not payment for work done. The boundary between a true volunteer and an employee is difficult to judge. That judgement is made more complex by the fact that the regulatory authorities, Industrial Tribunal, Inland Revenue, Health and Safety Law, National Insurance Rules draw the boundary in different ways. In a key case involving a claim against Relate in the Industrial Tribunal a “volunteer” established that the relationship between her and the voluntary organisation was not one of volunteering but one in which a contract of employment arose. The “volunteer” claimed for race discrimination [Maria De Lourdes Armitage v.Relate and others Case No. 43538/94 Folio reference 9/272/037]. In this case the “volunteer” had applied to become a counsellor. Relate clearly expected high standards from its counsellors and had drawn up an agreement containing detailed obligations. Relate agreed to provide and pay for a programme of training and the counsellor agreed to provide voluntary counselling. There was also the possibility of paid counselling work. There was no salary or pay but the tribunal found that the offer of training in return for the provision of counselling sessions together with the other terms amounted to a contract of employment.

    Consequences of the Creation of a Contract of Employment

    Once the contract arises the organisation’s responsibilities to the individual expand hugely and include:
    - Duty not to wrongfully or unfairly dismiss with an attached liability by way of injunction, or damages or compensation claim
    - Obligation not to discriminate under sex, race or disability legislation
    - Redundancy and maternity rights
    - Obligations under the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, Health and Safety Regulations and to insure

    Contract of Employment or some other type of Contract?
    If a contract has been created with someone who was formerly thought to be a volunteer, it may be a contract for the delivery of services, i.e. with that person on a self employed basis. Here legal obligations are much more limited but still could be important. If for example that person is involved in fundraising and there is a contract, but not a contract of employment, important duties arise under Section 59 of the Charities Act 1992 Part II in that the individuals may fall within the definition in Section 58 of Professional Fundraisers. 

    Copyright
    One issue that has created difficulties for a number of organisations is the question of copyright of material produced by volunteers. Volunteers often have a valuable role in creating plans, photographs or data. Under a contract of employment the copyright for such material created by an employee for the employer during working hours will pass to the employer. However, under a genuine volunteering arrangement there is no such implied transfer of copyright. A situation may therefore arise where if a charity falls out with a volunteer the volunteer may withdraw his or her consent to the charity using the copyright material. If that material is or is about to be incorporated in major publications or core documents of the charity, the charity may find itself experiencing severe difficulties or embarrassment and potential financial loss if that material has to be extracted. It is clearly better to ensure that where a volunteer produces any material a simple agreement transferring that copyright to the charity is entered into.

    Summary
    In most situations volunteers are going to remain clearly volunteers, but a variety of factors conspire to blur that boundary. The desire to document relationships creates “agreements” which look distressingly like contracts of employment. The desire to be fair to volunteers creates “benefits” which may provide “consideration”. The pressures of service delivery, safety requirements and good practice create a need for reliability and consistency by volunteers which may give rise to a relationship where the mutuality of legal obligation central to a contract arises. Good practice and regular reviews of both the way in which the volunteer arrangement is documented and rewarded can help prevent the unexpected claim. Once created a contract of employment is now much more likely than ever to give rise to the potential for a substantial claim because the rights of employees have been extended to all part-time workers however irregular their part-time work, [The Employment Protection (Part-Time Employees) Regulations 1995 S.1 1995/31], and therefore many more of those “volunteers” who are in fact employees will qualify to bring claims. It must also be remembered that the right to bring claims for sexual, racial or most recently disability discrimination, exists without a qualifying period and indeed prior to any selection. Employment law is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of law. It is also one of the most costly areas in which voluntary organisations can make mistakes. Unexpected claims can be avoided with regular reviews. “ This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for guidance only, and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by the authors or Sinclair Taylor & Martin”

    This is a summary of the risks in developing contracts and has been prepared by James Sinclair Taylor who is a partner in Sinclair Taylor and Martin, Solicitors, advising a range of charities and volunteer using organisations and was prepared for Volunteering England.

    /www.brightonhovevolunteers.org.uk/goodpractice/

    Screening and Selecting Volunteers

    Screening and selectingDo you need to select at all?

    Screening and selection are not a concern for every organisation that involves volunteers. Some, especially those whose main reason for existence is to involve the local community or to encourage participation by those with a particular interest or concern, welcome anyone who wants to join in. There will be instances, however, where an organisation will need to make an informed decision about who it will and will not accept as a volunteer. Examples include:

    • if volunteers will be working with vulnerable people, such as children
    • if volunteers are going to be doing a lot of unsupervised work
    • if volunteers need any particular skills, such as driving or command of a language
    • if volunteers will be handling money, or will be put in similar positions of trust.

    Some basics

    • There is no screening device in the world that comes with a guarantee.
    • Having checks in place, and advertising this, is in itself a good screening technique, but be careful about putting off potentially good volunteers.
    • Be clear and fair throughout the process; tell people what checks you are planning to carry out and get their consent beforehand.
    • Don't acquire any more information than you actually need to know about the volunteer.
    • Be consistent; check every volunteer in the same way, even if you already know him/her.
    • Don't be any more strict when checking volunteers than you would be if you were checking paid staff.
    • Store all confidential information securely; restrict access to those who really need it.
    • Never rely on 'gut instinct' alone; a combination of screening tools (see below) is always preferable than relying on only one, and only use methods which are appropriate to the nature of the voluntary work.

    Role descriptions and organisational information
    This is the first stage in any screening and selection procedure. By providing accurate information about your organisation and the tasks to be done, you enable potential volunteers to undertake a process of self-selection to see if they would be interested in, and suitable for, working with you.

    Application forms and CVs
    These allow the organisation to gain administrative details (name, address etc) as well as asking questions about people\'s experience and their reasons for wanting to volunteer. Application forms, unlike CVs, ensure that everyone is treated the same way and that the same information is gathered from all. Forms can be completed before, during or after an interview. Remember that written forms can be off-putting for people with literacy problems or for those with poor English.

    Interviews
    Interviews, which can be individual or group sessions, should always be regarded as a two-way process, in which the organisation and the volunteer can find out about each other's suitability. Make interviews as informal as possible (consider calling them 'chats'); putting people at ease will ensure you get the best out of them.

    Checking skills and qualifications
    It might be appropriate, at times, to ask people to perform a test, in order to verify a certain skill. Examples include: driving a van, operating a computer, typing, and so on. At times, you may also need to confirm that someone holds certain academic or professional qualifications, or that drivers hold licences, or that their motor insurance covers their volunteering activities if they will be using their own car. You could ask applicants to bring proof of qualifications with them to an interview.

    References
    Usually, an organisation requests two character references from non-relatives. References can be given over the telephone or in writing. A simple reference form or telephone reference checklist ensures consistency, is easy to complete, and also guarantees that difficult issues are not avoided deliberately.

    Garda checks
    'Garda vetting' is a procedure that investigates individuals if their work involves substantial access to children and other vulnerable persons. The procedure provides information on any prosecutions or convictions a person may have had. There are strict procedures around how the process operates and the Mayo Volunteer Centre can advise on this.

    Please remember that these checks are by no means foolproof (for example, a volunteer may have committed offences abroad or may have offended but not have been convicted). Also remember that evidence of a criminal conviction does not necessarily mean that someone cannot volunteer; it depends entirely on the nature of the voluntary work.

    Health checks
    In certain instances, you may need to ask potential volunteers for medical evidence or ask them to go for a health check. Examples might include:

    • if they will be lifting clients
    • if they will be travelling abroad and need immunisations
    • if they have suffered from a mental or physical illness; are they now ready to volunteer?

    Trial period
    Some organisations use the processes of induction, training and probation as forms of selection. For example, some organisations require people to undergo a training course before taking them on as volunteers. Others have an observation period where the volunteer is closely supervised and supported while they undertake their assignment.

    How to say no
    Inevitably, screening means you sometimes have to say \'no\' to potential volunteers. This can be very difficult. Always make sure you do it, however, and don\'t simply hope that people will go away. You can refuse people by letter, on the telephone or face-to-face. Whichever method you choose, stress that you are following official policy, explain why they have been unsuccessful, offer suggestions on building experience/skills and if appropriate, offer alternatives.

     

    Please remember that just because a volunteer might not be suitable for your organisation, it does not mean that they cannot volunteer at all. Please suggest they contact their local Volunteer Centre where they will ensure they find something that suits them.

    Source: Volunteering Ireland

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