Volunteer Handbook 2023

Dear Volunteer,

Thank you for your decision to bring your time, skills, support and enthusiasm in volunteering with us.

We offer a broad range of opportunities to serve our community through various projects. Whichever project you choose, we are one charity and have shared values, policies and commitments as volunteers - all of which are described in this handbook.

We are always innovating and responding to the changing needs of our city, and if you have ideas or suggestions about how we can improve or develop, we’d love to hear from you. In recent years, we have sponsored a Syrian family to find a home in Southampton, opened a winter shelter for people sleeping rough, and initiated an online support group for people who have been bereaved. These, along with other projects, supports people who need help at a particular time in their lives.

Mother Teresa said, ‘Do small things with great love’. Sometimes our part in an overall project is small – making a cup of tea, filling in a form, or writing a blog - but it means the world to others when done with love!

I hope you have a wonderful experience volunteering with us and once again, thank you for adding your valued contribution to our team.

With appreciation,

Paul Woodman

Church Leader


This handbook is a point of reference for you regarding the policies, procedures and regulations under which CLC operates. It is designed to assist with your induction to the organisation, to provide information about your volunteering, and to signpost you to policies and procedures that relate to your work. Much of the detailed information is contained in other associated documents, all of which are available online via our website. Please make sure you can access all the information you may need. Please ensure that you read this carefully and if you have any questions ask our Volunteer Coordinator (laura@citylife.org.uk).

Our history

City Life Church started back in the 1970s and is a UK registered charity and company. Projects like CLEAR and Amber have been running for over 20 years and have been joined by others including Hope into Action, EU Welcome, Hong Kong Welcome and the Winter Shelter. All of these initiatives are supported by a range of partners in our community who share our vision and values.

We have received and successfully delivered several National Lottery grants, Government grants and Trust-funded projects. Underpinning the delivery of these grants is a robust charity with a dedicated board of trustees. We are part of several networks and partnerships:

- Love Southampton

- Pioneer Network of Churches

- Advice in Southampton

- Southampton Street Support

- City of Sanctuary

- Southampton Chaplaincy

- Anti-Poverty Network

Our mission, vision and values

City Life Church charity is involved in many different church activities and community projects. We are motivated by, and committed to, loving, and serving people well.

Our primary mission is to show love and compassion to others. This vision is grounded in Jesus’ teaching that the most important commandment was love - to love God and your neighbour. People asked Jesus: ‘Who is our neighbour’ and he told the story of the Good Samaritan who showed compassion on a man beaten and left for dead by robbers. The religious people in this story walked past the victim, refusing their help. They didn’t come out well in Jesus’ story. Action spoke louder than belief. So, we invite people of faith, and those with none, to join us in this active mission of showing love and care to others. As staff and volunteers, we share important values that we hope you can connect with and uphold.

Compassionate Community

We embrace diversity, welcoming both friends and strangers, and seek to offer a place of belonging to all. Pioneering

We are responsive to the needs of those within our community and in the communities, we serve, finding creative solutions, breaking new ground, and courageously embracing the challenges that come with change!


We seek to give people the tools to enable them to live well and thrive. We are committed to justice for all, respecting each person’s beliefs and choices. Creativity

We value the courage to reflect, learn and express ourselves creatively. We celebrate creativity in every action, expression, response, and collaboration.


We are responsive to the needs of those within our community and in the communities, we serve, finding creative solutions, breaking new ground, and courageously embracing the challenges that come with change!


We value the courage to reflect, learn and express ourselves creatively. We celebrate creativity in every action, expression, response, and collaboration.

Attitudes and practices that underpin our values

Communication with sensitivity, transparency, openness, and honesty

Welcoming feedback and input from others in our processing

Breathing space – maintaining capacity to cope with the unexpected pressures of life, and having room to evaluate, grow and develop

Gratitude and appreciation

Remembrance of the journey and celebration of new opportunities and initiatives

Encouragement – putting strength into others

Partnership and collaboration, building team and interdependence

Responsiveness to presenting needs


Prayer and reflection


Honouring and dignifying everyone equally

Aspiring to excellence

Our staff

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Laura, oversees all the volunteer roles and is available if you require any assistance at laura@citylife.org.uk.

Each volunteer will have an allocated Group Leader or Supervisor and every project has a link member of staff. Your Group Leader will be your main point of contact for any questions regarding your volunteer role. Many of the staff work part-time, across different days of the week, therefore you may not meet everyone as part of your volunteering experience with us.

Our staff members are part of different project teams who regularly report back to a board of trustees. A copy of our latest organogram is enclosed in the back of this handbook.

Amber Chaplaincy

Amber is a chaplaincy service promoting women’s health, safety and wellbeing in Southampton. We believe that every woman matters, and we treat everyone with dignity and respect. We work across 3 different areas:

Olivia chaplains provide evening outreach and daytime support for women selling sex on the streets. Twice weekly the team is out in our van offering a warm, confidential space for women to receive support, health essentials and treats.

Jasmine chaplains visit women working in the Thai and Chinese parlours across the city. Once a month, the team take a gift bag and offer a listening ear and prayer. We have Thai and Chinese speaking chaplains who help to build connections and help with any cultural and language barriers.

Eden chaplains visit the three strip clubs weekly, taking sweet treats and offering a listening ear, prayer and the services of a relationship counsellor to those working there.

CLEAR Project

CLEAR stands for ‘City Life Education and Action for Refugees’ and was set up in response to the Government’s dispersal policy on asylum seekers and refugees. For those who were dispersed to Southampton and chose to stay, our services have developed around their needs. In January 2018, CLEAR merged with EU WELCOME, adding European migrants living in Southampton to its client base. CLEAR delivers a powerful blend of professional advice, practical support and English language teaching to asylum seekers and refugees in the city.

Hong Kong Welcome

Hong Kong Welcome is a community, based in Southampton with the aim of welcoming people from Hong Kong to the Solent region. We were awarded a grant to lead the partnership and develop a website from the Department for Levelling Up. We are partnering with Welcome Churches, Hongkongers in Britain and other organisations to make this welcome as warm and helpful as possible.

Hope Into Action

Hope into Action: Southampton is a franchise, part of Hope Into Action UK, a Christian housing project set up to help break the cycle of housing poverty. We aim to break the cycle of homelessness by providing a platform for lasting change – genuine loving, supportive community. We enable churches to provide homes for the homeless, with a core mission to #makehomelessnesshistory. We provide temporary supported accommodation for homeless people, ex-offenders, those struggling with substance misuse, refugees, asylum seekers and more.

We set affordable rent levels that aim to free tenants from living off benefits and being unable to work. We raise funds through grants and inviting people to give and join our work for any shortfall from rental income.

Soup Run

Every Friday night, our teams provide soup, fresh food, hot drinks, and clothing to the homeless and vulnerable living on the streets. They also offer prayer to anyone who need it. Occasionally, hats, gloves, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags are also distributed.

Winter shelter

We are committed to the city’s vision to see Southampton as a place where no-one needs to sleep rough or beg. As part of this, we help lead initiatives that support taking people off the streets. City Life has worked with other churches to provide winter bed provision for people sleeping rough. Volunteers from across the city help to provide an overnight bed, dinner and breakfast for the homeless during the coldest part of the year.

Volunteering for CLEAR made me realise my priorities in life. The joy and fulfilment I get from helping those in need is worth it. CLEAR do a fantastic job and it’s amazing to see ‘refugees’ become permanent members of the community, completing English qualifications, getting jobs and housing. It has propelled me into a career to help and educate refugees in the U.K. I owe all that to CLEAR, thank you.

Beth, ESOL teacher

‘I’ve genuinely loved volunteering with CLEAR at the drop-in centre. It gives me a sense of purpose and community as everyone is so welcoming and there to help others. I’m so grateful for this weekly session as it makes my weeks feel more meaningful.’

Ruth, Refugee drop-in volunteer

I’ve been volunteering at CLEAR for nearly ten years as an ESOL assistant. Previously I was a Primary school teacher specialising in English, so my skills were immediately transferable. Working with refugees and asylum seekers is quite different though. Our learners often have difficult backgrounds, but they have chosen to learn English and for them this is a positive way forward. It means they have a better understanding of life in the UK, they feel more integrated and develop self-esteem as their language skills improve. ESOL classes also give them the chance to develop friendships and offer mutual support. It’s wonderful to see learners working together and sharing ideas. Volunteering with CLEAR is most definitely a worthwhile experience.

Sheila, Learning Support Assistant

Volunteering at Clear for me has been a wholly positive experience. It's a warm, friendly environment to work in and volunteers are well trained and supported. My role as an ESOL teacher has been so rewarding, the learners are lovely and so enthusiastic to learn. It's great to make a tiny, but meaningful difference to their lives.

Victoria, ESOL teacher

The effective recruitment and selection of volunteers is central and crucial to the successful functioning of each project. We depend on finding people that are driven by passion and that also have the necessary skills, expertise and qualifications to provide our services to others. We depend on being able to recruit a skilled and committed team of volunteers. All volunteers must be safely recruited without exception.

1. Role description and person specification for volunteer role written and approved

2. Informal chat

3. Volunteer Application documents

a. Application form

b. References (mandatory for all applications)

c. DBS checks (if applicable on Standard Applications)

d. Volunteer photo for ID badge (if required)

4. Receive and review completed application form

5. Receive and review completed references

6. Volunteer Safeguarding Interview (with a Senior Manager for higher risk roles)

7. Receive and review completed DBS checks (if applicable)

8. Sign off completed recruitment process

9. Volunteer agreement

10. Volunteer induction (to include risk assessment for role)

11. Volunteer reviews (one-to-one with Group Lead/Supervisor after first 6 months then annually)


Developing a culture of safety through strong safeguarding practices is a key part of realising our vision and upholding our values.

Our safeguarding processes are designed to help everyone work together to ensure that children are safe when accessing any of our projects or services. We ask everyone who volunteers or works for our charity to be familiar with our policy and procedures and to complete safeguarding training. As part of our commitment to providing a safe environment for all, we need to ensure we are recruiting staff and volunteers safely by following appropriate procedures and ensuring all necessary checks are made. We are grateful to all who volunteer and work with us to support these essential processes.

Paul Woodman (photo) is the Designated Safeguarding Lead and can be contacted by phone on 07387108669 or by email paulw@citylife.org.uk.

Our trustee with responsibility for Safeguarding is Dave Barclay, and he can be contacted on 07956951025 or by email davebarclay@citylife.org.uk.

Policies, procedures and documents

We have made all our policies and procedures available online for our staff and volunteers, via our website: citylife.org.uk/hr

The password will be shared with you at induction.

Essential reading for all volunteers is:

● Safeguarding Policies for Children and Adults

● Procedure for concerns about adult at risk and children

● Procedure for managing allegations

● Supporting known offenders

● Safe Post Handling

● Food Safety and Hygiene

● Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy

● Fire Safety policy

● Personal Safety policy

● Wellbeing policy

● Conduct Policy

All volunteers will receive an induction to their project with an orientation and training session. In addition to this, all volunteers are welcome to email or make appointments for a chat with their Group Lead/Supervisors to talk about their volunteering and how is going. You can also contact Laura, our Volunteer Coordinator, with every query or question about your volunteering role or experience.


We require all our staff and volunteers to complete a set of training which is online and free of charge as follows:


All staff and volunteers need to complete safeguarding training as soon as you are able. We offer in person training but also access to the Church of England safeguarding training, which is free and available online. There is some contextual religious language in our training and policies, but we understand that this may not be applicable to all our volunteering contexts.

The training can be accessed here:


Click ‘Create a New Account’ to register agreeing agree to the Privacy Policy first. When registering, fill in your details and select the following options: ’Not part of a Training Institution’ and ’Not part of a Church of England Diocese’.

These should be the default settings.

Once registered click ‘Online Courses’ - the training to complete is ’Safeguarding Basic Awareness (C0)’. The course should take approximately 1 hour to complete.

Fire Safety Awareness Training

This training is provided by Elearning, Health and Safety Portal and you will receive an email with details on how to access the course.

This must be completed annually as agreed with the training provider.


Volunteers working with individuals at risk, including people seeking asylum and refugees or those moving on from homelessness, will be required to complete training on preventing people being drawn into serious and organised crime or who may be at risk of radicalisation.


Choose 'SOUTH EAST' region, and 'CHARITABLE AND VOLUNTARY' sector (For Tutors and LSAs choose ‘EDUCATION FURTHER’ and then TUTOR as role).

This must be completed every two years, as a minimum, with some roles requiring completion annually.

Once finished these trainings please send a copy of the certificates to laura@citylife.org.uk

If you volunteer with food preparation, you must complete or have a current Food Safety Certificate. Please speak to the Volunteer Coordinator for more information regarding this matter. After completion of the training the certificate must be emailed to laura@citylife.org.uk

Travel Reimbursement

You may claim reimbursement of any approved expenses, such as travel costs, as agreed with your Group Lead/Supervisor.

Volunteers may be eligible for reimbursement of public transport travel costs upon submission of receipts, or 45p per mile for use of your own vehicle, from your home to the volunteering location. Vehicle mileage is paid up to a 10-mile radius from the volunteering location, so a maximum 20-mile round trip, except in special circumstances.


We provide a confidential service to those we work with. People are entitled to choose when and whether information about them is passed on to other agencies or individuals, unless there is a legal requirement to do so, or a person is at significant risk of harm.

This is a fundamental question of respect; it is an individual’s right to have control over their life. Many of the people we connect with have been through painful and traumatic experiences, which they wish to remain private. This might be due to lifestyle challenges through abuse and exploitation here in the UK, as a woman selling sex, or a refugee; where the political situation in their home country, may give them good reason to mistrust official agencies. Many refugees come from small communities where information spreads quickly, and they may fear or face real danger in this country or abroad. In these cases, they have reason to be cautious about who they confide in, and we need to respect that.

Volunteer recognition

We welcome and support the contribution of volunteers to the projects and recognise the value they bring. We do this in a variety of ways, like sending thank-you cards or celebrating the contribution you make during the annual Volunteer week. Many of our long serving and dedicated volunteers have been awarded 100-hour certificates for their voluntary work by the Mayor of the City of Southampton.

Health and Safety

Developing a culture of Health and Safety through strong policies, practices and procedures is a key part of realising our vision and upholding our values to provide a safe environment for all.

Our Health and Safety processes are designed to help everyone work together to ensure that staff, volunteers and the public are as safe as possible when accessing any of our projects or services. We ask everyone who volunteers or works for our charity to be familiar with relevant Health and Safety policies, procedures, and risk assessments. Health and Safety is a key part of the Induction process for staff and volunteers and maintaining safe practices and environments are responsibilities we all share. We are grateful to all who volunteer and work with our charity for supporting us with these essential processes.

Using your car

Volunteers who agree to use their own cars for business purposes (e.g., attending meetings, giving lifts to clients, staff or volunteers), must have adequate insurance (usually called Business and Social use). Before using your vehicle for such purposes, please complete the Employee Vehicle Check form available from www.citylife.org/hr.

Professional Boundaries

We expect volunteers to only see clients within the allocated volunteering time. If this is not the case, then please let your Group Lead/Supervisor know. Crossing professional boundaries might lead to an unhealthy dependency or raise expectations in the relationship that are not able to be met.

Staff and volunteers must follow the practice of individual projects regarding receiving gifts from clients, being mindful of any power imbalance that might be between them. Gifts should not be encouraged from clients.

Our staff and volunteers may give appropriate small gifts to our clients but none that could encourage a financial relationship, a dependency, or expectations among other clients. If support is coming from the charity, it should be made clear that it is from the charity rather than from you. If you have items you wish to donate to the people we help, please speak to your Group Lead/Supervisor.


Whilst we hope that volunteering will be a positive experience for all our volunteers, sometimes problems occur where you may feel unhappy about certain situations or issues connected with other team members or your role within the organisation. Any complaint you have about your volunteering should be addressed first with your Group Lead/Supervisor. If you feel uncomfortable discussing it with them, please contact either the Volunteer Coordinator or the Project/Church Leader. More details can be found in our complaint procedure (citylife.org.uk/hr).

Taking time off or ending your volunteer time

Please let your Group Lead/Supervisor as soon as possible if you are unable to volunteer or no longer wish to volunteer with us. We appreciate that during your volunteering, issues may arise which may affect your ability to continue in the role. Examples of this include other personal commitments, a change in the organisation or suitability in a particular role. It may also be if there is a breach of our policies or procedures or any undisclosed criminal convictions come to light.

In such cases, an investigation will be undertaken by an appropriate individual, usually this will be a Project/Church Leader. As part of this process, you will be invited to provide a response to the concern(s) raised. Depending on the nature of the concern(s) the outcome of the investigation may consider any or all the following to be appropriate: no further action, a period of monitoring, retraining, appropriate and reasonable adjustments, redeployment to another volunteer role or a decision to end the volunteering appointment. If your volunteer role is ended, you will be notified in writing and given a reason. If you are not satisfied with this outcome, then you may complain, as per our complaint’s procedure.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Volunteering with us is a useful experience with many benefits such as working with dynamic teams in interesting areas of work or attending training and other learning opportunities. You can develop existing and new skills and improve your career prospects. You can contribute to a cause you believe in, playing an important part in the community. And last but not least… you’ll have fun!

At what times can I volunteer?

This will depend on the project you are volunteering with. We have some roles during normal office hours (9am-5pm Monday to Friday) and other roles in the evenings or weekends. We try to be as flexible as possible to match the need with your availability.

Is there a minimum number of hours I must volunteer?

This depends on the role, for example some projects, we are only able to recruit volunteers who can commit to a minimum of 2 hours per week. However, we try to be as flexible as possible. We do ask for a minimum of 6-months commitment across our projects but appreciate that this may not always be possible.

How frequently do I have to volunteer?

Most of our roles require weekly commitment, but it is up to the volunteer to discuss with the relevant Group Lead/Supervisor.

How are expenses handled whilst I am volunteering?

Coffee and tea will be provided free of charge and if you work for 4 hours or more, we will reimburse lunch expenses of up to £3.00 per day upon submission of receipts.

All expenses are claimed by completing the Expense Claim Form, attaching the receipts and handing them to your Group Lead/Supervisor. Once authorised, they will be paid by BACS into your bank account. Expenses must be claimed within 3 months from the date incurred, and before the end of the financial year (December).

I am an asylum seeker. Can I volunteer for City Life Church?

Yes, of course. Your knowledge and experience are very welcome. If you have applied for refugee status, you are legally allowed to volunteer. Home Office policy on volunteering for asylum seekers can be found: Home-Office-on-volunteering

Do I need a DBS check?

A DBS check is needed for certain roles, and we will advise you accordingly. If you have signed up to the Update Service, it will enable us to complete the check quickly and easily, so we encourage volunteers to register. Details can be found: gov.uk/dbs-update-service.