Ask our volunteers ‘why they volunteer?’ .......
They may tell you that it’s because they’ve made new friends, feel they’ve given something back to their local community or simply because it’s fun.
They may say they have built new skills or added valuable experience to their CV or improved their own quality of life with a new sense of purpose and confidence. The reasons may vary but with our range of opportunities, we offer you a chance to feel valued and make a difference to the lives of older people in your community.
Take a look at the range of roles we offer and our current vacancies, read our frequently asked questions and listen to what our volunteers themselves have to say.
We have a wide range of roles available within Age UK Suffolk, some of which are listed below. Hopefully we have something to suit everyone – our aim is to match your skills, interests, passions and personality with available opportunities.
Administration - Our volunteer administrators support the back room functions in our offices and services helping with all kinds of administrative tasks including computer based activity, filing, photocopying and mail outs.
Information and Advice Service - You could be meeting and greeting older people at our Ipswich Information desk, offering a range of useful literature and supporting our staff. Or you might like to be an Information and Advice volunteer supporting our service in the office by answering the phone and undertaking administration tasks. Or possibly visit older people in the community for example to complete a blue badge request.
Befriending - Our befriending volunteers help to alleviate loneliness and social isolation through a weekly telephone call. We try as far as possible to match interests of our volunteers with those of the older person they befriend.
Day Services - Helping older people to get the most from their day service experience - talking with day service clients, running or supporting an activity and possibly assisting with refreshments or serving meals. We also run ‘Forget me not’ groups in the local community – enabling people with memory problems and their family carers to get together -, enjoying a meal, sharing activities.
Fundraising - Holding a coffee morning, doing a sponsored event, helping at an event or a bag pack, delivering collection tins to a venue, starting a local fundraising group, there’s lots of options.
Local Links - Supporting older people in your community or local village by acting as a focal point for dissemination of information about Age UK Suffolk as well as updating Age UK Suffolk about activities and developments in your local area which may impact on older people.
Shop Volunteer - This is a varied role which can include till work, money handling, stock replenishment and rotation and window dressing at one of our charity shops in Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Stowmarket and Sudbury.
Stock Processing and Donation Sorting - Volunteers based at our Carr Street Shop in Ipswich prepare stock for other shops. Staff and volunteers work as a team to sort and process all donated items.
Welcome Home Service Volunteer - Based at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Volunteers support to people over 18 being discharged from hospital. This could include help with shopping, cleaning or just increasing their confidence with a friendly visit to their home.
How do I become a volunteer?
You will be asked to complete a registration form and to provide the details of two people whom you have known for at least a year who would be willing to give a reference on your behalf. Unfortunately we cannot accept family members as referees.
Are there are any age limits?
We welcome anyone aged 17 and above – there is no upper age limit!
Will I have to do a DBS check?
Age UK Suffolk does not automatically exclude people who have a criminal record however it is committed to safeguarding older people we work with from exposure to people who have been barred from working or volunteering with adults. Consequently some roles require a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) service check – for example, our visiting befriending service. Whilst many volunteers have already had DBS checks undertaken, you may still need to undertake another. We can accept a DBS which has been registered with the DBS ‘Update Service’ providing it applies to the same workforce and where the same level/type of check is required.
What if I don’t know what I want to do?
Don’t worry – we can tell you about the volunteering roles we have on offer and check our current vacancy list to help you find something that will suit you. Wherever possible and appropriate we encourage prospective volunteers to meet with staff and volunteers or undertake a ‘taster’ session before deciding whether a role is right for them. Sometimes people change their minds, so we try hard to look for an alternative.
How much time do I have to give as a volunteer?
Obviously volunteers have other commitments so we will help you find a role which fits in with what you are looking for. It’s important that you don’t feel you have over committed so we’ll discuss hours and frequency with you. In some circumstances the service itself will dictate when a volunteering opportunity is available – for example, our befriending service operates in normal working hours, weekdays. Some people volunteer only short term whilst others volunteer for many years – occasionally we ask for a specific commitment.
Can I volunteer for more than one role?
Of course, many of our volunteers support more than one of our services by taking on more than one role. There’s no obligation to do so though.
What Support will I get?
Any additional support needs will be discussed with you prior to starting and taken into account when finding a suitable volunteering opportunity. We have a role description for each of our volunteering opportunities and every volunteer receives a Volunteer Handbook. When you start your ‘supervisor/line manager’ will welcome you and provide an induction together with ongoing support. You will be given any training needed to ensure that you can carry out your role and from time to time you will be offered other training opportunities as they arise. We have an in-house staff/volunteer newsletter which can be sent to you by email or will be available on site where you volunteer. Additional support/advice can be obtained from our HR Manager or Volunteer Administrator.
Will I be able to claim any expenses?
As a volunteer you willingly give your time but we don’t expect you to be out of pocket – so we do pay all reasonable expenses claims incurred within your volunteering role such as mileage or telephone calls. As a charity we work hard to use our budget carefully, so we do take this into account when placing you as a volunteer.
How will volunteering affect my benefits?
We recognise that volunteering can be a really positive experience for people who are looking for work – helping others, gaining skills and experience, building a CV and gaining confidence. Obviously your volunteering would not stand in the way of you attending interviews or visiting the Job Centre etc. We cannot advise you with regards to your specific circumstances so suggest you speak to your Job Centre Plus if you want to know more about how volunteering will impact on benefits.
Will you be able to give me a reference?
Yes, we can provide a reference to a prospective employer or for other purposes, confirming your period of volunteering with Age UK Suffolk and the role you hold.
Here are some of our volunteers, sharing their own experiences about volunteering for Suffolk Age UK.
Maggie volunteers at our Claydon reception.
"On taking early retirement I felt that I did not want to give up on office work which I had done since leaving school. So I volunteered to do office work for Suffolk Age UK at Claydon. I only do 3 hours a week but it does not matter how little help you can give this is much appreciated.
Since I have been doing this, the thing I most enjoy is being able to talk to the public, and know that they will get good advice and help with their concerns from this charitable organisation."
Kieran volunteers at our furniture shop in Ipswich
"I volunteer in order to help raise money for the elderly of Suffolk.
I get to work with some great people and thoroughly enjoy what I do."
Graham now volunteers as a telephone befriender, he has also volunteered as an advisor working with our dementia and enquiries teams.
"I get to meet and help nice people, I get satisfaction from making a real difference. I enjoy having a chat, just listening and offering companionship."
Graham says that "befriending hasn't necessarily changed my life but it has added to and enriched it".
Val volunteers as a telephone befreinder
‘I became a volunteer after I heard a talk from someone from Age Concern (as it was then) and liked it so much I decided to join. Now 20 years later I am still a befriender....I used to really enjoy the visits I made and still ring one lady on a weekly basis. My circumstances have changed but am glad to still be able to volunteer.’
Susan volunteers in our finance office
"Volunteering is one of the best decisions I have made. After losing my mum and with my daughter off to university, I had a strong urge to get into the workplace and feel needed again.
Working in the Finance Dept at Claydon has given me back my self esteem. I have been able to use some of my skills in office work, but I have also gained new ones. The people I work with are always grateful for what I have done, and it is good to chat and and laugh about life in general"
Anne, Chilton Day Centre Volunteer
"Volunteering is FUN! and so rewarding. You’re made to feel useful, something so important especially once you retire. Volunteering enriches your life (even developing new skills like my acting abilities at Panto time!!!).
I hope I make a difference to the lives of people we share our time with – they certainly make a difference to mine. "
Craig, Telephone Befriending Volunteer
"It gives me great satisfaction to use my time to make someone else happy, who is generally lonely, just for a short time during a week. I think it is a shame that more people cannot give up a small period of time to have a chat with someone who needs to hear from someone."
Dave, Telephone Befriending Volunteer
"I started telephone befriending two years ago now and find it very rewarding. A simple 20 minute phone call once a week is all it takes, and I can tell from the voice at the end of the phone that it makes a difference"