Volunteer opportunities will be actively promoted and made widely accessible on the RNLI’s website and via other external websites. We will be clear on the opportunity each role brings, its benefits and what tasks need to be undertaken.
The RNLI will ensure that, where practical, all potential, active and past volunteers’ details, and any other relevant information, are recorded accurately, securely and used in line with our Data Protection Policy. Where appropriate and possible, volunteers will have their skills matched to RNLI needs in order to harness their talent.
We will ensure that we do not waste potential volunteers’ time, by making sure we only register those volunteers who can help us meet our objectives. We will aim to process every request to volunteer as promptly and professionally as possible.
All registered volunteers will receive general information and guidance. This will be followed by appropriate training and development. We ask that all volunteers then help us by participating in line within our current policies, standards and procedures.
Communication and feedback
The RNLI will ensure all volunteers have the opportunity to give and receive information relevant to their role. The methods of communication and feedback will be appropriate in style, frequency, tone and source to individuals and groups of volunteers.
Through good communications we will encourage volunteers to stay with us, recognise their efforts and maximise their contribution. We welcome feedback on how things could be done better and how to improve our systems.
All our volunteers will have access to support and guidance from a named person, plus opportunities to gain mutual support from attending volunteer group functions and conferences. Volunteers will also be encouraged to provide each other with mutual support through existing local or national gatherings or online RNLI sites.
The RNLI will report annually to our Trustee Committee about volunteer involvement, and our volunteer ethos. We will endeavour to ensure that the views of our volunteers in their various involvements are represented to the Trustee Committee regularly.
Training and development
For each volunteer role, the skills required and major tasks that need to be performed will be defined. Each part of the RNLI will then develop appropriate systems to ensure that our volunteers can gain the skills and development required to achieve the role. In some cases, this will be through formal training. In others, it may be through coaching and support from others.
All our development and training processes will be clearly documented and recorded, so we can ensure all volunteers are helping the RNLI achieve its objectives. We will assess volunteer crew competencies and other competencies where we are legally obliged to do so.
IT access and usage
The RNLI is a modern and progressive organisation, and increasingly we rely on IT systems to carry out our work.
The RNLI will provide appropriate access and training for those volunteers who have to use such systems. In return, we will ask our volunteers to treat such systems and information in confidence and with sensitivity.
Where appropriate and verifiable, volunteers will be entitled to reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses. Each particular group of volunteers has different needs and the RNLI will develop appropriate expenses claim systems. These will be reviewed regularly.
We will provide clear guidance on expenses claims to volunteers. Volunteers may opt not to claim, and we will provide a system for this to happen.
The RNLI asks that volunteers submit claims within a reasonable timescale
Working in partnership with other groups
The RNLI recognises that volunteers may be found from partnerships with other organisations. Such partnerships include employee schemes, young people's groups and other charities.
In such partnerships, the RNLI will provide the following:
What the objectives of the partnership are
Who is responsible for doing what
How each party will communicate and give feedback
What guidance, procedures and support will be available from the RNLI
We recognise the need for a strategic approach to the development of volunteering throughout the UK and RoI, and support the work of those organisations trying to achieve this either on a national or local basis.
Equal opportunities, diversity and social responsibility
The RNLI aims to provide an inclusive, fair and open environment in which all volunteers can contribute and participate. We encourage people from all walks of life to fill our volunteer roles.
Where practical, we will make volunteering available to everyone.
Health and safety, insurance and risk assessment
In the case of health and safety legislation and certain insurance policies, volunteers are treated in the same way as employees.
The RNLI holds employers’ liability insurance, which covers claims made against the RNLI by our staff and volunteers for death or bodily injury as a result of negligence by the RNLI. Additionally, the RNLI has a public liability insurance policy that provides cover against claims from third parties for death, bodily injury or physical damage to property caused as a result of negligence by the RNLI, our staff or our volunteers.
On joining, volunteers will be given information on all relevant policies and legislation that may affect them in their role.
For some volunteer roles there may be a requirement for the RNLI to ensure that individual volunteers are medically fit to carry out their tasks. In these instances clear guidance, communications and processes exist. These will be clearly communicated and detailed to those affected.
The RNLI will take all practicable steps to safeguard the safety and welfare of young people while they are in contact with the RNLI, observing any legislation and best practice.
In selecting volunteers who are to work with children, young people and other vulnerable groups we will follow and use specific procedures and standards. The RNLI will comply with those standards specified by the UK Home Office and codes of practices when carrying out these procedures.
Where necessary, we will take up references or complete the Criminal Records Bureau checks for any relevant volunteer role.
Confidentiality, data protection, and information property rights
Volunteers will have access to their records and all data will be kept in line with the Data Protection Act, the RNLI’s Data Protection Policy and all other relevant legislation. The RNLI requests that all volunteers respect and treat in confidence the information that they may be party to as part of their volunteer involvement. This includes written, oral and electronic information.
When things aren’t right
Sometimes things do not go well and a volunteer may wish to raise an issue or problem with a member of staff. There may also be times where the RNLI needs to resolve an issue that it believes to exist. The RNLI will endeavour to ensure that all parties have a full, fair and open hearing. We aim to solve problems early and within the local area. However, we do recognise that sometimes problems may need to be aired at a higher level and we have systems to manage these as well. A manager for each area of activity will be assigned responsibility for resolving problems and complaints relating to any volunteer’s conduct.
It is the role of the RNLI’s managers and staff to ensure that we make the most of the contribution made by our volunteers. As such, we will invest appropriate resources into the planning and development of volunteers and volunteering. This policy is part of a clear and consistent approach to making best use of our valuable volunteer resource.
In order to clarify the responsibilities of staff and volunteers, every key role will have a clear description and there will be details about how different groups can relate and communicate with each other. The roles allocated to volunteers in the RNLI will allow the organisation to increase its capability and will complement the work carried out by staff.
The RNLI recognises the valuable contribution made by all its volunteers.
RNLI volunteers who have made a substantial difference or commitment to the RNLI in any way will be recognised for their particular effort. This may take a variety of forms, and will be dependent on the role, level of involvement, and the activity undertaken.
In our communications and marketing, we will promote volunteering and our volunteer ethos.
Welfare, compensation and benevolence
The RNLI respects all its volunteers and the extraordinary effort that they make. For those volunteers involved in active lifesaving work, a number of welfare and benevolence provisions are in place. These are granted at the discretion of the RNLI Trustees, should a volunteer be injured while carrying out lifesaving work.
It is the duty of RNLI staff to ensure that volunteers are thanked for their services appropriately.
We ask that any volunteer who no longer wishes to actively be part of the RNLI to let us know directly by speaking with their local staff contact and informing us in writing, if appropriate.
On occasions, it may be necessary for the RNLI to end a volunteer’s involvement. This may be because the role undertaken is no longer needed, or because the volunteer is no longer able to satisfactorily carry out a particular role. When this happens the RNLI will endeavour to give due notice to the volunteer, try to find an acceptable alternative role, and, in all cases, will treat the volunteer fairly, and with dignity and respect.
If you have any questions on RNLI Volunteer Policies please contact the RNLI Volunteering Team.