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Frequently asked questions about volunteering

Below are some of the most common questions we are asked about volunteering with Shelter.

If you have a question that isn't answered here, you can contact the volunteering team by email on


Why volunteer?

There are so many different reasons to volunteer. Volunteering with us is a space to grow, to build confidence and find a sense of purpose, all while playing a part in fighting the housing emergency. It’s also a great way of meeting new people and having fun.

Whatever your motivation, we’d love to hear from you.

Who can volunteer?

We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, especially those with lived experience of homelessness or bad housing.

For many roles, such as those within our Community Fundraising, Services and Campaigns teams, you’ll need to be an adult to volunteer with us. Within our shops, we’re able to accept volunteers from 14 years old with consent from a parent or carer.

All our opportunities require volunteers to be based in England, Scotland or Wales. Unfortunately, if you are based in any other location, you will not be able to volunteer with us. Please view the role adverts for further details on where each volunteer opportunity is located.

How much time do I need to give?

With a range of volunteer roles and time commitments, there’s something to suit everyone. You might like to volunteer with us every week, support at a one-off event, or somewhere in between. Our roles are as flexible as possible to suit your availability, and we’re happy to adjust the time you contribute if your circumstances change over time.

You can view our current volunteering opportunities to find out more.

Can I volunteer if I have convictions?

At Shelter, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming volunteers with a range of life experiences. Having a criminal record doesn’t automatically make you unable to volunteer with us. We’ll have a conversation with you to discuss the convictions and anything else you’d like us to know, for example circumstances surrounding the conviction or how things have changed since.

Occasionally a conviction may impact some aspects of the volunteer role, but we recognise the skills you bring as an individual and will do our best to find a suitable role for you or make adjustments to the one you applied for.

What documents will I need to provide before starting my role?

The documents you will need to provide depend on the role you have applied for as well as your circumstances. Here, we have outlined which may apply to you, but please contact us on if you would like any more information.

Under 18 (in England) or under 16 (Scotland): If you are under these ages, your parent or guardian will need to provide their consent for you to volunteer with us by completing a Young Person’s Consent Form. We ask for their contact details within the application and will be in touch with them to obtain this, before progressing your application further.

Conviction self-declaration form: For all roles, we ask applicants to disclose any unspent convictions. For roles which require an Enhanced Level Criminal Record Check, we’ll ask about spent convictions too. For some roles, we will send you a form by email and ask you to complete and return.

Roles which require a Criminal Record Check: Not all our volunteer roles require a Criminal Record Check, but some do. You’ll be able to find out if a role requires one by checking the role advert. After you’ve been offered the role, you’ll be asked to complete a Criminal Record Check by entering your details, including your five-year address history, onto an online form, and providing enough ID for the level of check.

We know that applying for a Criminal Record Check may be new for some volunteers and we are happy to provide support to help you complete the check. Any content on Criminal Record Checks will remain confidential and may not have any impact on your volunteering (see other FAQs for more information on volunteering with convictions).

Volunteer Agreement: Once you’re ready to start in your role, you’ll be asked to sign a Volunteer Agreement outlining what you can expect from us and what we ask from you in return. This is not a legal document or contract and is not intended to create any legal relationship between us.

Do I have to complete any training?

Yes, we ask that new volunteers complete learning that is relevant to their role. This may take the format of e-learning or attending a presentation provided by your volunteer manager.

We endeavour to make this learning accessible and can support you to complete it where required. Your volunteer manager will also provide you with an induction, both to Shelter and to your specific role, as well as providing you with ongoing support.

Does volunteering affect my benefits?

No, you can volunteer if you receive benefits. We reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for volunteering, which is not a payment.

You can get useful advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau about making sure volunteering doesn’t impact your benefits.

Can I claim expenses?

Shelter is passionate about involving volunteers and is committed to making sure that no-one misses out because they can’t afford to volunteer. We ensure that all reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred during volunteering are reimbursed in line with our Volunteer Expenses Policy.

Can I volunteer with my health condition or disability?

It’s important to us that our volunteer opportunities are inclusive. As part of the recruitment and induction, please talk to your main contact about your health needs and we will do our best to make appropriate adjustments to the role wherever possible, to make sure you are comfortable and supported with your health and wellbeing.

Our volunteers also have access to support provisions including Mental Health First Aiders and our Employee Assistance Program.