Gay Men's Health can be contacted at the above address and/or phone number. Please use the e-mail form to contact us. All enquiries are treated in strict confidence.
About volunteering for Gay Men's Health: Volunteer Handbook
Welcome to Gay Men's Health
This handbook is intended as a brief guide to volunteering at Gay Men's Health. You may already have been accepted onto the programme, or you may be thinking about becoming a volunteer, but need more information. Either way, it will outline who's who within the organisation, and where you fit in. Hopefully it will answer any 'what if' questions you have, but we can arrange for you to speak to a member of staff or an experienced volunteer if you wish. Also, a copy of any of our policies and procedures documents are available on request.
What is Gay Men's Health?
Gay Men's Health is a charity, which involves and empowers gay and bisexual men to promote the health and wellbeing of all men who have sex with men Lothian, including those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
The organisation distributes free condoms, lubricant and safer sex literature, as well as organising events both on and off the commercial gay scene. We play an active role in working with commercial establishments in the promotion of physical and emotional wellbeing amongst gay and bisexual men. It provides education and training for gay and bisexual men and professionals such as GPs, teachers, social workers and therapists. Its care and support includes free counselling, advocacy, group work, and access to trained support work volunteers. Each of these services, plus many others that we provide forms an integral and essential part of the holistic approach which the agency takes.
Gay Men's Health believes strongly in a process of peer education, which simply means that gay and bisexual men and their friends are the best placed people to educate each other.
What can I do as a volunteer?
There is a range of things you can do as a volunteer for Gay Men's Health and it is generally up to you to decide what is best suited when you attend your initial interview. It may be that you have special skills that you would like to offer the organisation, or perhaps you want to develop new skills.
What ever you decide, you will be fulfilling an important role within the organisation.
When you become a volunteer with Gay Men's Health, you will be offered a choice of areas of work, each with individual task descriptions. Your individual task description would normally be a project or regular activity for which you agree to take responsibility. This may be a task that you undertake to carry out by yourself, or it may be within a volunteer group. Generally speaking, volunteer groups will work, plan and make decisions together, on the larger projects we undertake.
However, you have to think about the amount of time and responsibility that you commit yourself to – it is a good idea not to take on too much (especially in the first few weeks). On the other hand, you may feel you have a lot of time to offer, and choose to take on two or more commitments. Either way, your interviewer would be happy to go through this with you, and your workload will be reviewed regularly to make sure that you are neither doing more nor less than you would like.
There is a lot of room within Gay Men's Health to ‘move around’ as a volunteer – perhaps you may ask to change your volunteer roles every once in a while. This is an excellent way of getting to know about all different areas of the work we do, and we are more than happy to let you do this if you want to.
Gay Men's Health seeks to involve volunteers in all levels of its work. There are various areas in which you can become involved as a volunteer. We rely heavily upon the wide range of tasks undertaken by volunteers, which includes:
All volunteers, regardless of the area of work they intend to work must attend induction training. This will familiarise you with the systems, who’s who within the organinsation, the ethos and philosophy of Gay Men's Health, and will be fun too. It will last for 3-4 hours.
Beyond that, further training is provided. This may sometimes be dependent on which job you decide to do. For example, if you are working on producing a newsletter we can arrange training on our in-house Desk Top Publishing packages.
It is important for Gay Men's Health to have a well trained and highly skilled team of volunteers, who are confident and competent in dealing with a wide range of situations. As such, we frequently organise specific training which is open to all volunteers. This could be for example, training on Presentation Skills, First Aid or Basic Counselling Skills. Gay Men's Health is committed to its Volunteer Development Programme, and as we meet all training costs for you it is strongly recommended that you take advantage of this.
The role and value of volunteers
The policies for volunteers and the work put into the volunteer system demonstrate the commitment Gay Men's Health has to its volunteers, and the importance which the organisation places upon them. Volunteers fulfill an important role of decision making and fulfillment of ideas. The amount of time dedicated to volunteer work is solely the decision of the volunteer, and is as little or as much as you wish. Your decision over how much time you can commit should help determine the amount and nature of the work you take on.
Because you will not be paid any money to motivate your voluntary work, we know that you have to be getting something else out of it. Maybe you are volunteering because you want to meet new people, maybe you want to improve your employment prospects with experience and training, or perhaps you want to play a more central and worthwhile role in the gay community. Whatever the reason, we will do everything we can to make sure you get what you’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to ask!
It’s important that you enjoy your volunteer work and that you don’t at any point feel put upon or used.
On commencing volunteering at Gay Men's Health you will be assigned a line manager - this will normally be one of the Project Workers. Your line manager is responsible for ensuring that you enjoy your voluntary work, and will arrange line management meetings with you to discuss your progress and any needs or concerns. You will be informed in advance when one of these meetings has been arranged for you, but also, you are free to request a line management meeting at any time.
Gay Men's Health also runs a programme of volunteer one-to-one support mentoring sessions. This will be a meeting with one of our mentoring volunteers to discuss how things are going. This is an opportunity to talk openly with a non-staff member, who can offer you advice and refer you to the appropriate member of staff if appropriate.
Records are kept of from line management and mentoring meetings, and these are kept locked away in your file, to which only Gay Men's Health staff have access. The contents of this report will be discussed and agreed with you at the end of any such meeting before it is filed. You may see your own file at any time, upon request with your line manager.
Volunteering for Gay Men's Health should not result in your being out of pocket.
Any expenses incurred during your time volunteering can be met by the organisation, provided they have first been agreed by your line manager. Any travel costs to and from the Gay Men's Health office (or any other place your volunteering may take you) will be reimbursed as long as you have a valid receipt (e.g. bus ticket). Mileage will be paid at a level of 30p per mile. Travel costs will normally be reimbursed to a maximum of £10 per day. Any volunteer required to work 5 hours or more is entitled to a meal allowance of up to £3.50 per day.
Gay Men's Health has a strict confidentiality policy that must be accepted and observed by everyone involved within the organisation. Breaches of the policy may be regarded as gross misconduct.
When you apply to become a volunteer you sign a form which states that you agree to abide by the rules of the organisation, including the confidentiality policy.
The confidentiality policy states that you should not reveal any personal information (by definition, as defined by that particular individual) to any other person. It should always include terms such as HIV status, name, address, sexual orientation, personal lifestyle and relationship, and financial situation.
It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the confidentiality policy. Everyone who works with Gay Men's Health is expected to take the utmost care in protecting each other's rights regarding confidentiality. This includes staff, other volunteers, clients and any other person or organisation with whom you come into contact through Gay Men's Health.
Fortunately, our grievance procedures are rarely required to come into action. However, any grievance you have will be taken seriously. If you are unhappy with someone whether they are a staff member or a volunteer, it is usually best to try and resolve things with that person. Remember to remain calm and rational - some things can seem important to one person but trivial to another. They may even be unaware that they’ve done anything to offend you!
If for some reason you feel you can’t talk to this person about your grievance, or you have tried to and it hasn’t worked, the next step would normally be to speak to your Line Manager, who will look into the matter. If the grievance/complaint needs to go further, it will be discussed with the Manager of Gay Men's Health, where the appropriate action can be agreed and subsequently taken.
If after this, the person making the complaint is still not happy, or the action agreed by your Line Manger and the Manager of Gay Men's Health has not worked, the Manager will bring the matter to the attention of the Board of Directors. They may decide to hold a formal inquiry.
Full copies of our complaints and grievances procedures are available on request from any member of staff.
Gay Men's Health Volunteer Policy
Last updated 14th July 2004
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