Helpline: 041 9844550

Freephone: 1800 929999

Volunteer Policy

1. About DWCR

1.1 Background to DWCR

Drogheda Women & Children’s Refuge (DWCR) is committed to providing support and assistance to women and children experiencing domestic violence and homelessness for more than 25 years. We believe that everyone deserves to live a life free from fear, abuse and uncertainty.

DWCR’s journey began in 1998 when a group of dedicated volunteers recognised the need to support women and children affected by domestic violence in the Drogheda area. We opened our refuge in the Stables, admitting 55 families in 1998, providing safety and support for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. Over time, with community support and fundraising efforts, we secured a purpose-built refuge centre in 2009. This facility has allowed us to accommodate 88 families in 2022, and to increase the average length of stay to 12 weeks, enabling us to provide more comprehensive support.

1.2 Our mission

Drogheda Women and Children’s Refuge empowers women and children experiencing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and homelessness by providing support, a range of services and safe emergency accommodation.

We work towards the prevention of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence through awareness raising and education.

1.3 Our values & beliefs

How we work and our guiding objectives

  • Integrity – Working professionally with honesty, transparency and accountability
  • Women and child centred – that is non-judgemental and trauma informed – recognising, respecting and responding to individual circumstances and needs.
  • Holistic– Recognising the effect of DSGBV on all aspects of women and children’s
  • lives.
  • Multi-agency– Working collaboratively to achieve successful outcomes for women and children.
  • Theempowermentofwomen– Supporting women to have an awareness of and ability to exercise their human rights.
  • Autonomy – Supporting women as decision makers through informed choice.
  • Theindividualvoice– Providing safe space for women and children to talk and be heard.
  • Thepossibilityofchange – Breaking the cycle of abuse for individuals and families.
  •   Safety – Enhancing women and children’s safety through support and services.

1.4 Our supports & services

DWCR offers a wide range of crucial services to support and protect women and children in crisis situations. The services include:

  • Emergency accommodation
  • A 24-hour helpline
  • Outreach support for women in the community
  • Court support & accompaniment
  • Children and young people supports & activities
  • 1:1 therapeutic supports
  • Education raising & Awareness workshops
  • Support programmes for women

We serve a diverse range of families, primarily women and their children seeking refuge from domestic violence. We also assist women experiencing homelessness due to complex circumstances. While our primary focus is on the Dublin and Northeast region, we extend our services to women and children from other areas who reach out to us in times of need.

Our refuge facility offers emergency short-term crisis accommodation tailored to the unique needs of women and children. We have a total of six self-contained units designed to accommodate families, providing a secure and private space for you and your children. In addition, we have five single bedrooms available. Our refuge is equipped with essential amenities to ensure your comfort and well-being, including a playground, playroom, and a communal area for single-room occupants.

1.5 Management structure

Our board of directors for 2023 – 2024 are:

Antoinette Rourke; Anna Shakespeare; Angela Teefy, Renata Matanovic; Myles Hackett, Valerie Kennedy; Ger O’Brien; Marcos Simpson; Michelle Arkins.

1.6 Staffing structure

  • DWCR Senior Management Team consists of:
    • CEO: Susan Keogh
    • CFO: Irene Kilroy
    • Support Services Manager: Chelsea Johnston
    • Head of Childhood Support: Michelle Woods
    • Deputy Head of Childhood Support: Lorraine Woods
    • Community Employment:  
  • Our Support Services Teams are:
    • Refuge Support Workers (including Night Support Workers & Relief)
    • Outreach Support Workers
    • CE Care Support Workers
    • Safe Harbour Outreach
    • Education Support
  • Children’s Services Team
    • Childcare Workers
    • Children’s Activity Worker
    • CE Children’s Support
    • Activity Workers

Therapeutic Services (Sub-contracted)

  • Qualified Therapist 
  • Child Therapists 

Ancillary Services  

  • Housekeeping (including CE Care takers and Cleaners) 
  • Shop Supervisor (including CE assistants) 
  • Administration Assistants 

Drogheda Women’s and Children’s Support Teams work across the organisation in Refuge Support, Outreach & Court accompaniment and Childcare, delivering services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. External agencies, tutors and facilitators work with us on an ongoing basis on a variety of projects and training programmes.

2. Introduction to volunteering

2.1 Policy statement

Drogheda Women & Children’s Refuge, (DWCR) is committed to a consistent and supportive approach to volunteers that best meets the needs of the service user, the volunteer and the needs of the organisation.

2.2 Purpose

This policy has been produced to provide guidance on all aspects of volunteering within DWCR for both staff and volunteers It aims to ensure that there is a positive and mutually beneficial volunteering arrangement and that volunteers are properly recruited, supported and well supported.
It also provides guidelines for the management of any risks or issues that may arise.

2.3 Scope

This policy applies to all volunteers within DWCR from members of the management committee to workers.
To volunteer with DWCR, all volunteers will be over the age of 18.

2.4 Principles

DWCR is an inclusive organisation. Service users, staff and volunteers all work under the values and beliefs outlined in point 1.3.

Volunteers must be able to demonstrate a commitment to the aims of the organisation and will only be taken on if their needs as volunteers match the needs of the organisation.

No person who has a conflict of interest with any aspect of the organisation will be accepted as a volunteer. DWCR reserves the right to terminate volunteers’ relationships with the organisation at its discretion and for any reason. Likewise, volunteers have the freedom to terminate their association with DWCR at any time and for any reason. It is encouraged that notice of such decisions be communicated promptly, preferably in writing.

DWCR affirms the rights of the volunteer:

  • to be given meaningful work to do that has been through discussions between the organisation and the volunteer
  • to know what is expected from them
  • to be offered appropriate training
  • to receive supervision and support
  • to know who to go to if there is a problem
  • to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses incurred when volunteering
  • to be treated fairly and not to experience discrimination
  • to be informed about and given the opportunity to play and active part in the organisation as a whole
  • to be consulted with and kept informed of changes within the organisation

2.5 Once off volunteer opportunities

Volunteer placements for a one off activity such as at a fundraiser event or one off activity will not be subject to all the recruitment procedures outlined in in the following sections All one-off volunteers will be expected to:

  • Read and adhere to the organisations code of conduct
  • Read and adhere to the organisations confidentiality policy
  • Read and sign the Volunteer Agreement form
  • If participating in a fundraising event, one-off volunteers should read and adhere to the organisations fundraising policy.
  • Complete a volunteer form which includes, Name, Address, Contact Details, reason for volunteering, interest in DWCR. May be asked to complete Volunteer Skills Audit.

Any volunteer, even a one-off volunteer working with children and/or vulnerable adults will be expected to be Garda vetted according to DWCR Garda vetting policy. (See appendix 4).

3. Volunteers

3.1 Inclusion for volunteering

  • DWCR is committed to ensuring that volunteers will be treated regardless of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, or membership of the traveling community.
  • Applications are considered on an individual basis taking into account the type of work the individual will be undertaking and the supports and structures required to facilitate this.

All volunteers should be appropriately vetted. Having a criminal record should not automatically exclude someone from volunteering (see DWCR Garda Vetting Policy).

3.2 Recruitment & selection

  • All volunteers are required to provide a C.V. and are invited to complete the Application form in Appendix 1.
  • Suitable candidates are invited to attend an informal chat with the line manager, to ascertain their interest in and suitability for the role.
  • All potential volunteers will be asked to complete a garda vetting background check. Other checks may also be completed (for example professional qualifications).
  • All volunteers are subject to a formal review meeting after a period of 6 months. At the end of this, the line manager will meet with the volunteer to discuss their suitability for their role.
  • All volunteers should be given a clear and accurate description of the tasks and responsibilities they are expected to perform (role description). As appropriate this may include;
  • a title of the volunteering role,
  • starting and finishing dates,
  • hours and place of work,
  • name of supervisor,
  • tasks to be undertaken.
  • The role description may be amended in joint agreement with the volunteer and the line manager. In the unusual event that there are volunteers under 18 years of age (Youth Volunteers), they must have written consent of a parent or guardian before volunteering
  • Students volunteering for their school must submit school name and contact information before volunteering. Consideration should be given to the specific tasks for youth volunteers to ensure that are engaged in low-risk activities and fully supervised, and that they are covered through insurance.

3.2 Training & development

All volunteers should receive an induction process on organisation and the requirements of their role. This should be delivered by a member of the Snr. Management team

3.3 Supervision & evaluation

  1. Each volunteer will have access to support and supervision during their trial period and throughout their volunteering period will have an identified supervisor who is responsible for their day-to-day management.
  2. Difficulties that arise will be dealt with in a fair, open and efficient way and in line with DWCR’s grievance and disciplinary procedures.
  3. Working hours will be negotiated with the line manager and agreed in writing. If the volunteer cannot fulfil these arrangements, then as much notice as possible should be provided, so that alternative arrangements can be made. 

Resignation

Any voluntary service is at the discretion DWCR. Drogheda Women & Children’s Refuge or a volunteer, may for whatever reason, decide to terminate their relationship. Notice of such decisions should be communicated at the earliest opportunity, preferably in writing.

Feedback

Feedback on this document and how DWCR can further support its volunteers is always welcome. Feedback and suggestions can be given to the Senior Management Team and will be fully considered.

Review

The CEO & Board of Management will review its volunteer policy on an a bi-annual basis or more frequently as appropriate.

References:

  1. Charities regulator SE GLS 8.2.1 014 Rev 000 Governance Code – Sample Volunteer Recruitment Policy 2023
  2. Charities Regulator Governance Code
  3. Volunteer Ireland Developing a Volunteer Guide for your organisation 2023
  4. The Wheel Sustainable Communities: A Governance Resource Book for Small Community and Voluntary Organisations

4 Code of conduct for volunteers

4.1 Purpose

The purpose of the Code of Conduct for Volunteers is to set out standards of behaviour expected from volunteers of Drogheda Women & Children’s Refuge (DWCR).  All volunteers should ensure that they have read and comply with this Code of Conduct. 

Volunteers should maintain the highest standards of behaviour in the performance of their duties by:

  • Fulfilling their role as outlined in their written volunteer role description to a satisfactory standard;
  • Performing their volunteer role to the best of their ability in a safe, efficient and competent way;
  • Following the charity’s policies and procedures as well as any instructions or directions reasonably given to them;
  • Acting honestly, responsibly and with integrity;
  • Treating others with fairness, equality, dignity and respect;
  • Raising concerns about possible wrongdoing witnessed by the volunteer in the course of the volunteer’s role with DWCR with your designated Support Manager;
  • Meeting time and task commitments and providing sufficient notice when they will not be available so that alternative arrangements can be made;
  • Acting in a way that is in line with the purpose and values of the charity and that enhances the work of the charity;
  • Communicating respectfully and honestly at all times;
  • Observing safety procedures, including any obligations concerning the safety, health and welfare of other people in line with training provided to volunteers;
  • Reporting any health and safety concerns;
  • Directing any questions regarding DWCR’s policies, procedures, support or supervision to the volunteer’s supervisor;
  • Addressing any issues or difficulties about any aspect of their role or how they are managed in line with DWCR’s grievance procedures;
  • Declaring any interests that may conflict with their role or the work of the charity (e.g. business interests or employment). If any doubt arises as to what constitutes a conflict of interest, volunteers may seek guidance from a Senior Management team member and CEO;
  • Keeping confidential matters confidential;
  • Exercising caution and care with any documents, material or devices, containing confidential information and at the end of their involvement with DWCR returning any such documents, material in their possession;
  • Seeking authorisation before communicating externally on behalf of DWCR;
  • Maintaining an appropriate standard of dress and personal hygiene;
  • Disclosing the fact that they have been charged with, or convicted of a criminal offence by prosecuting authorities (or given the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 as amended) to Garda Vetting Officers. For the avoidance of doubt, volunteers are not required to disclose the fact or details of ‘spent convictions’ under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (as amended) to DWCR.

Volunteers are expected NOT to:

  • Bring the charity into disrepute (including through the use of email, social media and other internet sites, engaging with media etc.);
  • Seek or accept any gifts, rewards, benefits or hospitality in the course of their role;
  • Engage in any activity that may cause physical or mental harm or distress to another person (such as verbal abuse, physical abuse, assault, bullying, or discrimination or harassment on the grounds of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community);
  • Be affected by alcohol, drugs, or medication which will affect their abilities to carry out their duties and responsibilities while volunteering;
  • Provide a false or misleading statement, declaration, document, record or claim in respect of DWCR, its volunteers, employees or charity trustees;
  • Engage in any activity that may damage property;
  • Take unauthorised possession of property that does not belong to them.
  • Engage in illegal activity while carrying out their role.
  • Improperly disclose, during or after their involvement with DWCR ends, confidential information gained in the course of their role with DWCR.

Where a volunteer is found to be in breach of the standards outlined in this Code of Conduct or any of DWCR’s other policies and procedures this may result in the volunteer’s position being terminated. Notwithstanding the foregoing, volunteers should note that DWCR may terminate a volunteer’s position without cause. 

Volunteers acknowledge that no employment relationship is created in the context of their role with DWCR.

The board of charity trustees will review the Code of Conduct for Volunteers at 3-year intervals or as appropriate. The CEO and Senior Management Team are responsible for ensuring that this policy is implemented effectively. All other staff and volunteers, including charity trustees, are expected to facilitate this process.

In seeking information from volunteers about criminal convictions (or the fact that they have been charged with an offence or given the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 (as amended)) charities should comply with data protection law and be aware of the limitations on the circumstances in which it is possible to process such information (e.g. see section 55 of the Data Protection Act 2018).  It is also important that charities have due regard to the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (as amended). If a charity has any doubt about its rights and responsibilities in this regard, it should obtain legal advice. 

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