Context/purpose of policy

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the seven young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. We create world-class cancer services for young people in the UK, providing life-changing care and support so young people don’t have to face cancer alone through specialist units and specialist nurses and youth support coordinators. But we can’t do it alone. Thousands of volunteers give their time and skills to Teenage Cancer Trust, who all want to help us reach more young people with cancer.

Teenage Cancer Trust recognises the significant and valuable role volunteers play in supporting us to achieve our aims. This policy reflects our commitment to volunteering at Teenage Cancer Trust and sets out a framework of procedures and best practice, which we will endeavour to follow when appointing, managing and supporting Teenage Cancer Trust volunteers.

After reading this policy, if a volunteer, volunteer manager or other staff member has any further questions or concerns regarding appropriate expenses, please contact: [email protected]

For more support and info, please see our Volunteer hub.


1. Scope: a definition of volunteering at Teenage Cancer Trust

Teenage Cancer Trust volunteers are people who, unpaid and of their own free will, contribute their time, energy, skills and expertise to Teenage Cancer Trust. The charity’s relationship with volunteers is based on trust and is not intended to have the obligations associated with employment. No payment, other than the reimbursement of agreed out-of-pocket expenses, is made by Teenage Cancer Trust to people who give their time as volunteers.

With our support, Teenage Cancer Trust volunteers will act ‘on behalf of’ the charity in roles which have been agreed in advance with staff and will be considered part of our volunteering community. All volunteers must have completed an application form and be registered on our database.

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2. Vision and mission for volunteering

We believe that by harnessing the passion and skills of our volunteer community, we can achieve more for young people with cancer and are committed to engaging volunteers in this mission wherever possible. We aim to engage, equip and empower our volunteers to support the following areas of the organisation’s strategy:

Engage: we want to involve our volunteers in a range of activities with us supporting departments across the organisation to enhance our work.

Equip: we aim to provide adequate induction, information, equipment, training and support to our volunteers to enable them to achieve their best in their roles.

Empower: we want our volunteers to develop and grow in their volunteering roles, feeling empowered to be advocates for the work we do.

The Volunteering team aims to provide a structure for staff, volunteers and supporters to engage with the charity in this way. The volunteering objectives spread across these key areas:

  • Recruitment – to attract motivated volunteers through tailor-made recruitment.
  • Resources – to provide adequate information and equipment for the roles volunteers are asked to perform on our behalf.
  • Retention – to ensure all volunteers receive appropriate, high quality support from staff, providing the same positive and rewarding experience.
  • Best practice – to implement volunteering best practice across the organisation, providing advice and guidance to all staff.
  • Demonstrate impact – to demonstrate the value and contribution of volunteers.

All staff at Teenage Cancer Trust are encouraged to embrace volunteers and the skills and experience they bring to the organisation beyond our staff team. Those staff members who engage volunteers in their work, or that of their team, are known as volunteer managers.

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3. The current picture of volunteering at Teenage Cancer Trust

We have around 3,000 volunteers who dedicate their time to Teenage Cancer Trust, across a variety of roles and geographical locations. These include:

  • Teenage Cancer Trust Board of Trustees
  • Desk-based volunteers (home-based or office-based)
  • Fundraising volunteers
  • Music and festival event support volunteers
  • Sports and challenge volunteers
  • Bucket Boss volunteers
  • Volunteer photographers
  • Massage therapists
  • Professional coaching volunteers
  • Corporate volunteers
  • Professional volunteers to support with projects

Together, these individuals all support the aims and objectives of Teenage Cancer Trust.

*NB: Desk-based volunteers does not include work experience placements or internships. These requests should be directed to our HR team, where a separate policy applies.

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4. The volunteer experience

4.1 Risk assessment of volunteering activity

All volunteering opportunities must be thoroughly risk assessed before volunteers are recruited for the position. In the case of new volunteering opportunities, it is the responsibility of the (recruiting) volunteer manager to assess the risk within the specific context of their team and/or project. The volunteer manager should then submit the risk assessment to the Volunteering team for sign off.

Where volunteers will be involved in events, it is necessary that both the volunteer role and the event are individually risk assessed. Reference risk assessment documents exist for the most frequently-reoccurring event-based volunteering roles, which the event manager should use to complete an event risk assessment, as per standard Teenage Cancer Trust policy.

The Volunteering team will maintain the bank of ‘central’ reference risk assessments.

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4.2 Recruitment

Teenage Cancer Trust welcomes the wide range of experience, skills and dedication that volunteers bring to the charity. All volunteers must be aged 13 or over to volunteer, but there is not an upper age limit for volunteers. However, all individuals under the age of 18 will require signed parent/guardian consent to volunteer. Volunteers aged 13, 14 or 15 will need to be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult if attending a physical event. The responsible adult should either be a parent/guardian or be approved by a parent/guardian for this purpose. The accompanying adult will need to register as a volunteer in addition to the young person.

If a volunteer aged 13, 14 or 15 is taking part in a remote (e.g. home-based) role, then parents will be kept informed of their child’s involvement, but are not required to provide physical supervision during the course of the volunteering activity.

All volunteers are required to complete our online volunteer form as standard, with paper forms available on request. This registration form will allow volunteers to outline their interests. All formal volunteering opportunities will have a clear and detailed role description that will be actively promoted online and via email.

Teenage Cancer Trust does not require the submission of CVs in relation to volunteering roles and cannot accept a CV in place of a completed registration or application form.

Volunteer recruitment will be supported by the Volunteering team, but led by one or more staff members of the team that will involve the volunteer. Ideally this will include the staff member who will lead on the relationship management and support of the volunteer. This staff member could be part of any team in the charity and will be known to the volunteer as their ‘volunteer manager’.

Generally speaking, volunteering roles will not be created in response to requests by potential volunteers. Exceptions may be made in the circumstance that the role(s) provide a genuine benefit to the charity and there is time and capacity to sufficiently develop the role in full before recruitment starts.
Requests from supporters or other stakeholders for the creation of bespoke volunteering opportunities for personal connections will not be permitted. Any person who wishes to support the charity as a volunteer is welcome to apply through the registration form, and will be subject to the planned selection process for that role.

Some volunteering opportunities are non-selective. This means that as long as volunteers meet the age requirements, there is no assessment of competency carried out as part of the onboarding process. With very few exceptions, these roles are open to anyone wishing to volunteer. They are sometimes referred to as ‘mass’ volunteering roles.

Some volunteering opportunities are defined as semi-selective. This means that instead of an interview to test competency, any selection-focussed chat would be about clarifying expectations of the role. These types of roles are unlikely to involve selection processes.

For selective roles, informal phone, online or face to face interviews will be held. These interviews will allow Teenage Cancer Trust to ascertain an applicant’s suitability for the role, as well as the applicant to decide if the role is right for them.

Volunteers in semi-selective and selective roles may be subject to a trial period depending on the role and their volunteer manager will inform them of this at their interview.

For some roles, Teenage Cancer Trust will request references and/or a disclosure check before an individual is able to begin volunteering with us. This depends on the role and will be clearly outlined in the role description.

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4.3 Equality of opportunity

Teenage Cancer Trust is committed to promoting equal opportunities. Volunteering opportunities at Teenage Cancer Trust are open to all regardless of disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex, gender identity, gender expressionor sexual orientation.

Opportunities are open to individuals aged 13 or over, other than where a higher minimum age limit is clearly stated in the role description. This commitment is reflected throughout the charity’s policies and procedures. Teenage Cancer Trust will not condone, accept or ignore any forms of discrimination or unacceptable behaviour.

There may be some roles that are not suitable for individuals with limited mobility such as festival roles based in fields, but where this is the case, we will specify in the role description and are happy to discuss on an individual basis per event.

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4.4 Induction, support and development

All volunteers will receive the Volunteer Handbook when they sign up and additional briefing, training and induction activities relevant for the role will be provided.

Volunteers will be directly or indirectly supported by a Teenage Cancer Trust volunteer manager, either remotely from the Volunteering team, onsite at an event or ongoing support for more regular roles.

Where relevant to the role, additional training may be offered to the volunteer. If a volunteer wishes to move into a different/additional internal role to develop skills, the staff contact or Volunteering team will assist and support where possible.

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4.5 Expenses

Volunteers may request reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred through their volunteering with Teenage Cancer Trust. 
Minimising costs maximises our impact, therefore we ask volunteers to keep expenses to a reasonable and necessary level.

Please refer to our full Volunteer Expenses Policy for further details on what expenses we can cover and how to claim.

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4.6 Raising issues or concerns

Although Teenage Cancer Trust makes every effort to ensure that any experience of volunteering with us is positive and rewarding, we recognise that volunteers at times may experience difficulty within their role or they may need to raise an issue or a problem with a member of staff or another volunteer.

Issues might include inappropriate behaviour such as bullying, harassment and/or discrimination which may come in the forms of ableism, sexism, racism, homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia.

In the first instance, volunteers should talk to their volunteer manager to try to resolve the issue, get advice and support. We will make every reasonable effort to discuss concerns amicably and openly and resolve difficulties at an early stage.

There may be occasions where staff contacts may have concerns around a volunteer’s behaviour or approach. In this case, volunteer managers or the Volunteering Manager will approach the volunteer directly to discuss any concerns they may have amicably and openly and resolve difficulties at an early stage.

However, where the areas of concern cannot be resolved by these means, please refer to the Volunteer Problem Solving Policy.
We take volunteer concerns seriously and effort will always be made to reach a mutually acceptable solution where possible. Teenage Cancer Trust are always striving to improve the way we do things and to provide a better experience for future volunteers.

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4.7 Leaving us

Teenage Cancer Trust recognises that volunteers may wish to finish volunteering with us, and they can do so at any time. We ask that volunteers let us know directly by speaking with their volunteer manager and letting us know in writing (by email or letter). We ask that volunteers give as much notice as possible. Upon leaving a volunteer role, we may offer an exit interview to reflect on their experiences and improve our volunteer opportunities. We encourage volunteers to stay in touch with us and get involved in the future.

Where relevant, volunteers can also obtain written references from the Volunteering Team.

On occasion, it may be necessary for Teenage Cancer Trust to end a volunteer’s involvement with the charity. This may be because the role no longer supports the needs of the organisation and its current work, or because the volunteer is no longer able to satisfactorily carry out a particular role. When this happens, Teenage Cancer Trust will endeavour to give as much notice as possible to the volunteer and try to find an acceptable alternative role. In all cases, the volunteer will be treated fairly, with dignity and respect.

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5. Commitment expected from volunteers

As so many of our activities depend on the goodwill of our volunteer community, we trust volunteers to be reliable and honour their commitment, however we do understand that on occasion, unavoidable circumstances do arise and volunteers need to cancel. In this case, we ask that volunteers let their staff contact know as soon as possible.

If volunteers are found to consistently cancel volunteering activities, particularly at short notice or to ‘no show’ at events, they may be excluded from certain volunteering activities until such a time they can demonstrate improvement.

We do also understand that circumstances may arise such as illness or a personal or family event which means that it is advisable to take a break from volunteering responsibilities. We simply ask volunteers to communicate this as soon as possible to their staff contact.

If volunteers will be away for a period of time, we request they let their staff contact know the dates they will not be available and communicate when they plan to return.

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6. Other policies governing volunteer involvement

6.1 Safeguarding

Teenage Cancer Trust, including its staff and volunteers, have a legal responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of the young people we support. We take our safeguarding responsibilities seriously, and where relevant, we’ll include specific safeguarding information within volunteer role profiles and event briefings to support volunteers to create a safe and welcoming environment for all.

Volunteers taking on roles that are eligible for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, or equivalent, will be required to undertake a relevant check. If required, this will be made clear on the volunteer role profile. The volunteer manager or another suitable Teenage Cancer Trust staff member will fully explain the process. We reserve the right to end our relationship with a volunteer at any time should any concerns arise through the application process or during their volunteering with us.

For further information on our commitment to safeguarding, and to be aware of our procedures for escalating concerns, please see the safeguarding policy included in your welcome and induction pack.

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6.2 Data protection and confidentiality

We will ensure we protect volunteer information in accordance with the Data Protection Act (2018). Data will be held securely and confidentially and will only be accessed by authorised individuals. Please see our Privacy Policy online for further information. 

If volunteers are using our IT systems as part of their role, they must read and understand our IT Code of Conduct prior to starting their role. If a volunteer does not adhere to our Data Protection policy, Teenage Cancer Trust may ask the volunteer to cease volunteering for the organisation.

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6.3 Health and safety

Teenage Cancer Trust is committed to ensuring the wellbeing and safety of individuals and groups whilst they are volunteering with us. While volunteering “on behalf of” Teenage Cancer Trust, all registered volunteers are covered by the organisation’s Public Liability Insurance and Employers Liability Insurance.

Any activity carried out on a voluntary basis is covered by the same Health and Safety requirements as those carried out by Teenage Cancer Trust employees. Suitable risk assessments will be undertaken prior to the volunteering role, where appropriate. We expect all volunteers at Teenage Cancer Trust to contribute to maintaining a safe working environment. It is important that volunteers:

  • Take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and other persons who may be affected by their actions.
  • Follow our health and safety policy and comply to all relevant safety instructions and procedures whilst they are volunteering.
  • Attend a Health and Safety induction where appropriate – most notably when volunteering in Teenage Cancer Trust’s Head Office.
  • Inform the staff contact of any personal health and safety requirements that they may have and provide Teenage Cancer Trust with an emergency contact, who will be contacted in the unlikely event of an emergency.
  • Report accidents/incidents of a dangerous nature or concerns to a paid member of staff, whether or not anyone has been injured.
  • Are aware of the actions to undertake when an emergency situation arises, and who to contact.

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6.4 Smoking and substance use

Volunteers must not smoke* when wearing a Teenage Cancer Trust badge, branded clothing or anything that could identify you with our charity. Volunteering under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be accepted and volunteers will be asked to leave an event if this occurs.

*Including the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

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6.5 Property and money handling

Volunteers will be expected to take care not to damage any equipment provided by Teenage Cancer Trust for their role and hand back to staff or the activity organiser at the end of the event so that I can be reused in future. Any volunteer collecting donations on our behalf must do so using appropriate equipment (e.g. a sealed, branded bucket) and are responsible for handing the bucket with any donations to staff or their main event contact at the end of their shift.

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6.6 Photography

We may use photographs of volunteers carrying out their roles to promote Teenage Cancer Trust. For example, we may use photographs or video footage of volunteers on our website or in a leaflet. Where a photograph focuses on one volunteer or small number of volunteers, we will seek individual written consent from those pictured, to use their image. For larger groups shots, this is not possible and so we ask volunteers to make it clear to their volunteer manager/photographer aware at the time of the photo being taken, if they do not wish for their image to be used. Where Teenage Cancer Trust wishes to use an image taken by a volunteer (e.g. a selfie at an event), we will again seek individual written consent to use the image in our materials.

Please refer to our Photography and Social Media guidelines for further details.

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6.7 Media and social media

Volunteers should not share comments or stories with the media, unless your volunteer role specifically relates to talking to the press. Any requests or potential liaison with the press should be discussed with the volunteer’s volunteer manager, who will communicate with the relevant team within Teenage Cancer Trust.

Many of us have personal accounts on a variety of social media platforms and we ask that volunteers refer to our Photography and Social Media guidelines for further details.

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6.8 Political neutrality

Teenage Cancer Trust do not endorse or support any specific political party and it is really important as an organisation, that we remain politically neutral. Volunteers should respect this and be mindful when carrying out their volunteer role.

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Volunteering for us?

View our Volunteer hub