Volunteers are essential to the Students’ Union and we simply wouldn’t function without the support we receive from you. We want you to feel valued and respected so it is important to us that you are involved in decision making, and that your achievements are recognised.
This is your guide to being a Students' Union Volunteer with expectations and advice.
Volunteer Roles within the Students’ Union
- Buddy Scheme Volunteers
- Good Night Owls Volunteers
- Language Café Volunteers
- Student Media Volunteers
- Society Committee Member Volunteers
- Society Reps
- Sports Reps
- Student Reps
You can see all current volunteering roles within the SU here.
Volunteering in the Union is an excellent way of widening your experience at University. It helps you to build professional skills and opens the door to new opportunities.
Some of these skills, experiences and opportunities include:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Confidence building
- Experience being in a fast paced environment
- Organisation and time building skills
- Time management
- Public speaking
- Supporting others
- Facilitation skills
- Good for CV and professional development
- Access to departments in the Union
What can you expect?
As a Union Volunteer, you can expect:
- To be involved with an organisation that through advice, student-led representation and campaigning seeks to strengthen students as individuals and as a body, defending their rights to improve their experience within the institution and the wider community.
- A fun, supportive and positive environment that ensures you enjoy your volunteering experience.
- To be treated with respect, courtesy and fairness regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, parental or marital status, disability, religion, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, or socio/economic background.
- A comprehensive induction to your role and a named contact for your support.
- Relevant and up to date information and advice where and when available.
- Recognition and thanks.
In return, we ask that you:
- As a representative, support the aims and objectives of the Students’ Union.
- Reach a shared understanding with us summarising your role and commitment.
- Are open and honest in your dealings with the Students’ Union.
- Treat fellow student volunteers and staff with courtesy and respect.
- Let us know if you wish to change the nature of your contribution.
- Let us know if we can improve the service and support that you receive.
What the Students’ Union does
As a students’ union our role is to provide an organisation that is well run and supportive to allow students to represent themselves and to provide and shape the services they want to use. All of our activities and services are rewarding, safe and supported as well as having a direct positive impact on students’ lives. We are a progressive organisation putting liberation and social justice at the heart of what we do. We are ethically driven and believe that by allowing the students themselves to shape how we operate and what we provide is the only way to really meet the needs of our diverse membership.
We support and empower students to make positive change to get the most out of their education ensuring all students have access to a safe, supported and rewarding time at Sussex. Our aim is to increase student participation and engagement in the provision of their own education, representation and services.
The Students’ Union is a charitable organisation and its direction is democratically determined by its members, the University’s students. We carry out research to find out what students think of us and to assist in our campaigning and lobbying.
As well as representation, the Students’ Union provides a variety of services to help students through university life, including academic advice, sports clubs, student media, social, cultural and political societies, commercial services such as bars and shops plus our very own lettings agency.
More on what the SU does here.
How the Students’ Union Operates
The Students’ Union is run by six elected full-time officers who are either recent graduates from Sussex or BSMS or taking a year out from their studies.
They are elected every year by students to make sure that we’re doing what our members want.
We also have a number of elected part-time officers and reps on a range of committees who make decisions on behalf of students.
We have around 2000 volunteers in a variety of roles such as society committee chairs, student reps and Badger newspaper writers.
We also have 40 full-time staff and almost 200 students who work for us to support the activities of our elected officers and keep our services running.
Students’ Union Staff
The Students’ Union employs a number of permanent and casual staff. Staff are able to provide specialist knowledge and continuity and can support you in your role. Our staff/student protocol outlines how staff and elected representatives work together. You can access this via www.sussexstudent.com/intranet. You can find details of the Union’s permanent staff on the Union’s website at www.sussexstudent.com/about-us/contact-us/.
Room Bookings - Falmer House
You will need to complete a Risk Assessment if you are running an event. More information is available on our website.
The Students’ Union has a variety of rooms that can be booked out for meetings, activities and can be booked by clubs and societies for free.
We have implemented a new room booking system which allows club and society committee members to book rooms themselves. Each club/society has a room booking rep who has access to the system and can book rooms for their club/society. To check who the room booking rep is for your club/society, please email the Societies Administrator
You can also contact [email protected] 01273 67 8152 for more information and to book rooms in Falmer House.
You can find out more and check availability online at: www.sussexstudent.com/sport-societies-media/information-for-committee-members/room-bookings/
You will need to complete a Risk Assessment if you are running an event. More information is available on our website.
Other University rooms
Booking other University rooms is free but you may be charged for extra porter cover when necessary or for things like cleaning or security.
Claiming Travel Expenses
The Students’ Union is committed to reimburse out of pocket expenses to the volunteers.
Volunteers are eligible for a travel reimbursement if they incurred additional costs for their volunteering (such as coming onto campus specifically to fulfil volunteering activities). Volunteers are also eligible for a travel reimbursement if they have been requested to attend a volunteering related event (such as additional training or one off events).
Unfortunately the Students’ Union’s funds are limited but we are committed to ensuring that no student is out of pocket because of their volunteering activity. Therefore we ask our volunteers to try and work their volunteering commitments around existing commitments on campus such as seminars and lectures. Where this is not possible the Union will reimburse any additional expenditure related to volunteering activity.
The maximum amount for travel reimbursement is £5 per day as part of your volunteering on campus and a travel receipt for the day of the volunteering must be provided. Volunteers who cycle can be reimbursed for 10 pence per mile cycled (no receipt required). Volunteers using motor vehicles are reimbursed can be reimbursed 20p per mile.
If you’re required to attend training as part of your volunteering please speak to your supervisor in regards to travel expenses.
Any travel reimbursement needs to be discussed prior to the volunteering with the specified Volunteer Supervisor.
For further clarification on travel reimbursements, please speak to your Supervisor.
Staying safe in Falmer House
In order to maximise the safety and enjoyment of your role there is a need to be aware of your personal safety and the safety of other people around you.
As a contributor to the Students’ Union you have the right to be safe whilst carrying out your role. You also have the responsibility not to endanger yourself or others through your actions.
You’ll need to know what to do in case of an emergency including what to do in the event of a fire or if you, or someone else has an accident.
Fire alarms are located throughout Falmer House. If you hear it, leave by the nearest, safest exit and walk calmly to the Fire Assembly Point at Library Square. Note that the fire alarms in Falmer House are tested on a Wednesday afternoon.
You can also help to prevent fires, or lessen their consequences by:
- Keeping fire exits free from obstruction.
- Observing safety rules, such as no smoking
- Keeping naked flames or sparks away from any flammable materials
In the event of an accident you should let a member of Union Staff know as soon as possible.
A First Aid Kit is located at the main reception desk on the ground floor of Falmer House.
Where medical assistance is required on campus, contact a member of staff in the Activities Office and no member of Union staff is available please call campus security on 3333 from an internal phone or 01273 873333 from a mobile phone.
If you are involved in an emergency at another location you should follow any local procedures. Failing that you should call the emergency services on 999 (or 112 for international emergencies).
Our Volunteer Policy:
The volunteering opportunity with the Students’ Union should be something a volunteer wants to do: no volunteer should feel pressured into any activity or project.
The nature and content of any volunteering work needs to be clear to the Students’ Union and the volunteer before beginning the role.
- Volunteers should be given a ‘role description’ before they begin the placement to ensure that they know what to expect, and what the Students’ Union expects from them.
- Volunteers should not replace paid staff.
- Volunteers have the right to full and comprehensive induction and training.
- Equal opportunities policies and good practice are incorporated into all stages of volunteer recruitment, placement and support.
- Volunteers with disabilities have the right to reasonable adjustments to enable them to volunteer and fulfil their role.
- All efforts should be made to ensure the health and safety of all volunteers whilst volunteering for Students’ Union.
- Volunteers have the right and responsibility to treat others and be treated with respect and dignity.
- Volunteering should be a positive and enjoyable experience. The role should be fulfilling in terms of personal development, and / or career development if the student is seeking these goals.
- All Students’ Union volunteers have an appointed staff member who will be there for guidance and support throughout the volunteering experience.
- All volunteers are recognised by the Students’ Union and are entitled to receive a professional reference and a certificate on request from their appointed staff member.
Communicating with us
Communication between yourself and your supervisor is an important part of your role as a volunteer. It is really important that you maintain good communication to keep them informed of projects you're working on or by letting them know if you cannot make a meeting, social, event, shift etc. We include communication as part of your induction to ensure that the communication method we are using meets your individual needs. You will be asked for your prefered methods; email, telephone, facebook group, newsletters etc.
We’re really keen to help you communicate with students about things you are working on if applicable to your role, contact your supervisor for help. The Students’ Union can also design artwork for things like events and campaigns that you want to organise.
Volunteers often find that social media is a good way to communicate with students about the issues affecting them and talk about things they’re working on.
Don’t forget that anything you say, whether in a personal capacity or not and regardless of whether it is online or offline, reflects on you and the Students’ Union.
Our operational policies outline how the Students' Union will go about its business can be found here.
Right to volunteer
We remind any person considering becoming a volunteer to check whether they are allowed to volunteer under the terms of their visa or entry clearance conditions. If your visa does not permit you to volunteer, this may have implications for your future ability to work/study/remain in the UK. If you require further advice or information, contact UK Visas and Immigration or visit www.gov.uk
Volunteers are advised to try to resolve their complaints informally in the first instance by contacting their Volunteer Coordinator to discuss and issues. If a volunteer wishes to make a formal complaint against the Union, you can find out more here.
The Students' Union actively seeks to provide all volunteers with a positive and worthwhile experience of volunteering.
We want everyone who is involved in volunteering to feel safe, supported and valued, and to enjoy the experience. You need to know what you can expect from us.
Similarly, whilst volunteering with us you are in the position of representing the Students'Union. We therefore need to agree what we can expect from you.
The Students' Union will ensure that:
- All volunteers will be given equality of opportunity, in line with our equal opportunities policy.
- Your volunteering is assessed (as far as is reasonably practicable) as safe prior to the start of your volunteering
- People with a disability will be treated in line with disability discrimination legislation.
- You are given the opportunity to feedback on your experiences (we will take your comments seriously and will work towards positive change wherever possible) and offered any training opportunities available through the Students’ Union.
- You are informed if it is decided that you are unsuitable for a particular volunteering opportunity and we will provide support and guidance in securing a different opportunity.
- You are able to access our grievance/ complaints procedure should you have a complaint.
- You are reimbursed for all reasonable personal travel expenses on production of receipts.
- All your personal data is stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
- You are insured whilst you are volunteering.
As a Students' Union volunteer you will ensure that:
- You inform your volunteer supervisor of any changes to your details i.e. change of address, contact number etc.
- We are informed if you are to be late or are unable to attend a volunteering session asap via phone or e-mail
- You inform us if you decide to stop.
- You follow all regulations and guidelines provided by the Students’ Union e.g. health and safety, confidentiality.
- You attend appropriate training as specified by the Students’ Union.
- You behave in a respectful way to staff, volunteers, students, visitors and other people.
- You do not undertake voluntary work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or bring alcohol or drugs to your volunteering.
- You act responsibly in regards to your own health and safety and that of your co-workers/volunteers and clients.
- You do not extend the professional boundaries of your voluntary role without guidance
- You are honest with regards to claiming expenses.