Volunteering FAQs

Below you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about volunteering with SDF, including who can volunteer, why you might consider volunteering and what support is offered when you are a volunteer.

Why volunteer?

As a volunteer with SDF you’ll receive a wide variety of training, have access to loads of great opportunities, gain skills and experience working in the substance use field and, importantly, know you are contributing to improving how Scotland responds to people who use substances.

Many of our volunteers have used their skills and experience gained from volunteering to improve their CV, gain paid employment or move on to education.

Some of our volunteers with lived experience have moved onto our Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) – an SDF project that trains, pays and supports people to work in the Social Care field.

Why does SDF need volunteers?

Since the early 1990s, SDF has worked to enable people who receive support from drug services to influence how services are planned, organised and delivered.

An important aspect of this work is to talk to people who are affected by substance use or who have a substance use problem.

Volunteers with a history of substance use bring their expertise and insight to the organisation and enable us to reach people who use services more effectively.

We recognise the important role which volunteers can play in supporting and supplementing SDF’s work.

What support do volunteers receive?

SDF volunteers go through a full induction and training process to enable you to carry out your role confidently.

Each volunteer will have a ‘named contact’ who will be the first point of call for any concerns or questions. The named contact will provide support and supervision every 12 weeks or more frequently if needed. Volunteers also have access to our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), whereby they can receive free counselling and advice.

A typical day of volunteering will include a briefing with SDF staff to make sure volunteers are comfortable with their role and have everything they need in place. At the end of each day, there will be time to discuss with an SDF staff member how the day went and ask any questions or raise concerns you have, if necessary. You will always be able to contact an SDF staff member during your volunteering hours.

We aim to make volunteering flexible and try to fit volunteering around your availability.

Do I need to provide references?

We ask for two references for all of our roles.

If possible, one of these should be from someone who has known you in an employment or volunteering capacity.

If this is not possible, consider if there is someone else who could provide a reference such as any professional involved in your life – teacher/trainer, GP, social worker etc. Don’t worry if you are struggling to think of someone, we will work with you to help identify a suitable reference.

Do I need to complete a criminal record check?

Some of our roles involve working one-to-one with vulnerable adults. If this is the case, it will be clearly outlined in the role profile and will require a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check. SDF will support you through the PVG process.

We understand that people wanting to volunteer may have past convictions; this will not necessarily be a problem or stop people getting a PVG, however, it will depend on the nature of the conviction and the time period that has elapsed since. We have a lot of experience in dealing with this sensitively.

If you are worried about the PVG process please speak to us and we can give you more information which will help you decide if you want to apply for a role requiring a PVG.

If you don’t want to submit a PVG, you won’t be able to do certain roles with SDF; however, there may be other opportunities within the organisation that do not require a PVG.

Will it cost me anything to volunteer?

We really appreciate that volunteers give their time and effort freely to SDF and we believe that it is important that volunteers are not out of pocket as a result of volunteering with us. SDF will pay for reasonable expenses, such as travel costs, food and accommodation (if staying overnight).

This will be discussed in greater detail if you are successful in your application. Before starting any volunteer activity you will know what you are able to be reimbursed for.

The role says it is for people with lived experience, what does this mean?

Some of our roles specify that you need to have lived experience of substance use to take part. For these roles, it is essential that someone has recent lived experience of substance use as they are ‘peer’ roles and involve the volunteer using their own lived experience to connect with current service users.

If you don’t have lived experience of substance use, please don’t be put off from volunteering with us – we have non-peer volunteer roles that you may be interested in.

Similarly, if you do have lived experience you are not limited to roles that ask for lived experience – we encourage you to apply for the roles that you are most interested in.

Do I need to be in recovery to volunteer?

SDF understands that recovery means different things to different people and does not wish to exclude or include people based on whether or not they consider themselves to be in recovery.

However, it is important that people have a level of stability in their lives that means they can commit to the demands of the role. If you have any concerns about this please speak to us.

Can I volunteer if I am claiming benefits?

Yes – you are able to volunteer while on benefits, and there is no limit to the number of hours that you can volunteer. However, you need to let your DWP advisor know about your volunteering.

There aren’t any roles on the SDF website that I’m interested in– should I get in touch anyway?

Yes, please do.

Our volunteering programme is dynamic and is designed to evolve; your suggestions will help us shape upcoming volunteer roles.

It may be that we cannot provide exactly what you need, however, if possible, we will signpost you to other suitable organisations. We can also let you know when we are likely to be recruiting for different roles and arrange to contact you.