Volunteering Information

Volunteer Information

Welcome to volunteering with Guide Dogs Reading Mobility Team!

Please find below basic information that will be useful for you to know when you begin volunteering with our team.

Registration Process

Once you have completed an application form for a volunteering role, this will then be sent to our Volunteering Office for processing. Your two references will be contacted to ensure these are satisfactory; this can take from two weeks onwards depending on how quickly your referees respond.

Following this you should be contacted by a member of staff for an informal discussion to ensure that you understand the role you are applying for and that you meet the appropriate criteria for the role.

If all of this goes well, we can hopefully welcome you into the team!

Please note: for roles which require a DBS check, there will be an additional step in the registration process where you will be required to supply identification documents that are sent off externally to be checked. This process can take up to 6-8 weeks in some cases and unfortunately out of our control. All we can ask is that you are please patient and understand these checks are for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and our service users.

Training

Some of our roles such as Administration Support or Fundraising can be undertaken immediately and any training is generally informal and completed ‘on the job’ with your office line manager or Community Fundraiser.

Other roles such as My Guide, Boarder or Dog Exerciser will actually require more formal training where you will be asked to attend a training session held at one of our offices or possibly with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor one on one.

Please be aware, if you intend to apply for these roles and volunteer, you must be willing to attend the training when asked. Some courses do take place during the working week though we do try to hold some sessions in the evening or at the weekend where possible.

You will not be able to take up the role unless the training has been completed.

Induction

We do offer you the chance to attend an all day induction with us here at the Reading Mobility Team centre in Winnersh. These events are held 3 times per year and are optional, but they do provide an excellent overview of the Guide Dogs organisation and allows you to meet members of staff you may be volunteering alongside.

During the day you will also have the chance to experience ‘sight loss challenges’, cane training and guide dog training demonstrations to help give you a clearer understanding of the challenges a blind or partially sighted person may face and the work we do to assist their mobility.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions, please be sure to at least read our Induction Booklet which is available to download on this page.

We also hope to be able to provide a video session of the induction on these pages in the near future for those unable to attend.

Communication with our volunteers

We try hard to maintain contact with all of our volunteers, though we acknowledge that a number of you are quite some distance from our mobility centre in Reading.

Due to this, many of our methods of communication are on a large scale and we encourage you to access them regularly to keep yourself in the loop with news and developments.

Below are the following methods that we use to communicate important information and updates, as well as general news to help keep you involved in the Guide Dog family:

Forward Magazine

This is our national magazine that is published three times per year and contains all Guide Dogs main news and updates. There is an insert inside that is specifically from the Reading Mobility Team, so be sure to give it a read!

As a registered volunteer you should receive this magazine – if you believe you don’t currently receive a copy, please contact our Support Workers on 0345 1430224 so that we rectify this.

Facebook

If you are a member of Facebook please search for ‘Guide Dogs Reading Mobility Team’ to find and follow us. From the 1st January 2015 we shall be using this as one of our main communication tools and will post dog training updates, volunteering opportunities, fundraising events and hold photo competitions, so please come and get involved!

If you’re currently not using Facebook, you might like to consider signing up OR have a look at the next item below.

Yammer

Guide Dogs will be introducing Office 365 to its mobility teams and volunteers next year (around April onwards) which will allow us to use Yammer, a social media tool very much like Facebook. However, this will be a Guide Dogs registered system, only accessible for staff, service users and volunteers, not the general public. All content that will be posted on Facebook will be posted on Yammer as well, in case you would prefer a ‘closed community’ to belong to. There will be more information about this system as we draw closer to using it – stay tuned!

Line Manager

Every volunteer who registers will be assigned a line manager who is your first point of contact with Guide Dogs. If you feel you do not know who your line manager is, please contact Simon Werner (Volunteering Consultant) at the mobility team to confirm.

Your line manager is there to support you and to answer any questions or concerns you may have, they are a great source of knowledge.

You will find that a large amount of information you receive will come through your line manager usually via word of mouth.    

Local to You website / Volunteer Voices

Our web pages hold information about the local team that may be of interest to you and will continue to be updated throughout the year.

Additionally we are proud to have a Volunteer Voices group who meet to discuss issues affecting our volunteers both locally and nationally.

More information on these volunteer representatives and how to contact them can be found on the ‘Volunteer Voices’ section on the left hand side of this webpage.

Meetings are held three times per year and minutes from the meetings will be posted there after taking place.

If you are having any issues with accessing these methods of communication, please do get in touch with the mobility team so that we can assist you.


Other important information

Volunteer Agreement

Every volunteer who registers with us must abide by the Volunteer Agreement. This is a simple document which outlines the service you can expect from Guide Dogs as a volunteer and what you agree to in terms of a code of conduct while representing Guide Dogs. This helps us ensure that everyone is in line with Guide Dog values and aiming to represent our charity in a positive manner.

If you feel you haven’t seen the volunteer agreement (it comes with you ID card – see below) and would like to view it again, there is a downloadable copy on this webpage.

ID card

Photographic ID cards will be issued to all registered volunteers. After your application has been processed and approved, our volunteering office will email you to request you send a photo. If you do not respond and send a photo, no ID badge will be forthcoming – so please watch for this closely, this catches a number of people out!

ID cards can take a number of weeks to produce, so we ask you to please be patient. These cards need to be delivered to you in person, as a safety measure for both yourself and our service users, but also as you have to sign for it and receive the Volunteer Agreement that comes with it.

A member of staff or a Lead Volunteer will make contact with you to try and arrange to deliver your card at a convenient time.

Expenses

All volunteers are allowed to claim for reasonable expenses associated with their volunteering, if they choose, provided they have been first agreed with your line manager. Travel expenses are the most common claims.

We do not want our volunteers to be out of pocket for their volunteering roles, especially when you are donating the most precious of resources, your time and compassion.

If you would like to make an expense claim, please download and use the Volunteer Expenses document on this webpage. If you require this is another format, please contact Simon Werner (Volunteering Consultant) at the mobility team.

Clothing

Volunteers can order and buy Guide Dog logo clothing if they choose to use in their volunteering role. If you would like to do this, please refer to the Volunteer Clothing document on this webpage which has the types of clothing available, cost and the contact number to order. Please be aware you will need your volunteer registration number to order items.

And on a final note…

If you find that you enjoy your time with us, please remember to spread the word to friends, family and community members who might like to join us too - even if it is just for a one off event for an hour or two!

Should you feel you would like to be considered for an additional role with us, please speak to your line manager who can discuss other opportunities with you.

If you feel you might have a specialist skill that could be of benefit to our organisation such has IT, events management, finance or media, please speak to Simon Werner (Volunteering Consultant) who can discuss other volunteering options with you.

We at the Reading Mobility Team would like to personally thank you for volunteering with us. Without our volunteers, we would not be able to deliver our services to blind and partially sighted people in our area.

Please do keep an eye on our communications for word on our annual Volunteer Thank You events. We hold a large summer and winter event as well as some smaller role related events throughout the year.

We would really like to meet you at one of these events in the near future.

Happy Volunteering!



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