Frequently asked questions on volunteering
If you're not sure where to start, or just want to know what to expect as a volunteer, our frequently asked questions will help you find the answer.
We've covered everything you need to know before your start your volunteering journey. But if there's something you're still not sure about, you can email the volunteer team.
What volunteering opportunities are available in my area?
We’ve got lots of volunteering opportunities for you to choose from. Whether you’d like to be hands-on caring for pets or helping raise money in our charity shops or at fundraising events, or supporting those experiencing pet loss – there’s something for everyone!
You can search our latest volunteer opportunities – type in your location to find what’s available near you. You can also filter roles by the distance you're able to travel.
Don’t worry if you can’t find anything suitable right now. Keep checking the website as we regularly update it with new vacancies.
How do I apply to volunteer?
Once you’ve found an opportunity you like, you can apply quickly and easily by completing the relevant online application form.
For some roles we’ll ask you to provide details of two referees. These can be an employer, community member or friends, but not a family member. Some roles may require additional checks.
Once shortlisted, we’ll be in touch to invite you to an informal chat and to discuss the next steps.
Do you offer work experience?
Voluntary work experience is a great way to learn new skills and gain experience for your CV.
We offer work experience in our charity shops, and in some of our rehoming centres if you're studying an animal related course or looking for a career in animal welfare. These roles are advertised alongside our other volunteer opportunities.
If there’s nothing available right now, keep checking the website as we regularly update it.
Can I volunteer as part of my Duke of Edinburgh?
Yes, we’re an approved activity provider for the volunteering section of your Duke of Edinburgh's award (DofE).
We have opportunities across the UK for DofE participants to help out in our fabulous charity shops, as well as some opportunities in our rehoming centres. You’ll receive all the training and support you need, and gain some great experience.
Our DofE opportunities are listed on our website. If there’s nothing available in your area right now, then please keep checking back regularly.
What can I expect as a Blue Cross volunteer?
As a valuable member of the team, we’ll make sure you have all the information and support you need to carry out your volunteer role. You’ll have a volunteer manager who’ll be the main contact you can go to with any questions or concerns.
Most roles require an element of training, including an induction to get you settled and some roles have more specific training. We’ll also support you in developing new skills and provide opportunities to gain nationally recognised qualifications.
All volunteers have access to a dedicated online portal where you can keep up to date with charity news, access useful documents and connect with volunteers from across our charity. We also provide our volunteers with a wide range of health and wellbeing resources, including access to internal support groups and mental health first aiders.
Do you pay expenses?
We don’t want you to be out of pocket when you volunteer with us, so we cover reasonable out-of-pocket expenses connected to your volunteering. This includes travel expenses. We only ask that you try and use the most cost-effective form of travel and to always check with your volunteer manager in advance so you're clear about what expenses can be reimbursed.
You’ll also have access to our volunteering expenses policy which gives more details about the different types of expenses that can be claimed.
How much time do I need to commit to volunteering?
We’ve got a range of volunteering opportunities during daytimes, evenings and weekends to fit around people’s different situations. Most roles look for a couple of hours a week, but a lot of our opportunities are flexible and we can work around you.
Each of our volunteer adverts will include the time commitment we’d ideally like. Some involve a dedicated time each week, while others can be done from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you.
If you're short on time, there are some bitesize ways to volunteer.
How old do you have to be to volunteer?
Some of our roles may not be suitable for people under 18 depending on the activities involved. You’ll find the minimum age for each role within the advert online.
In general, to volunteer in our shops or rehoming centres, you need to be 18 or older. But if you are 14 to 17 you may still be able to volunteer as part of a recognised scheme, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or school work experience.
If you are under 18, you’ll be asked to enter your parent or guardian’s details during the application process so they can give their consent for you to volunteer.
I have a criminal record – can I still volunteer?
Having a criminal record does not necessarily mean you cannot volunteer with us. As part of your application we ask our volunteers to disclose, in confidence, any unspent criminal convictions and we’ll consider whether you can volunteer with us when reviewing your application. We’ll have a conversation with you to discuss the convictions and anything else you’d like us to know.
For some of our roles, such as Education Speaker you will need a DBS check, and this will be highlighted in the advert.
I’m not a British national – can I still volunteer?
EU nationals can volunteer in the UK if they have “settled“ or “pre-settled“ status, or a visa which allows them to volunteer.
There is also an online tool for both EU and non-EU nationals to check if you need a UK visa to volunteer.
If you have refugee status or are an asylum seeker, you can also volunteer but, again, you must check your visa or entry conditions as there are some exceptions.
Can I claim benefits and still volunteer?
We recommend that you notify your benefits advisor before you start volunteering. In some cases, there are conditions that need to be met, so do check the Citizens Advice Bureau for helpful guidance on making sure volunteering does not affect your benefits.