Volunteering with us

Joining our network of 5,000+ volunteers is an inspiring and time flexible way of making a lasting difference to a young person’s life as well as enhancing your own professional skill set.

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Or click here to find out about volunteering in Scotland.

Volunteering with Career Ready

Give an hour a month

Whether it’s as a mentor, masterclass presenter, or workplace visit host, we have a range of opportunities available. Each one inspiring and flexible so that it fits around a busy schedule while still having a life-changing impact.

In Scotland, volunteering is available through a employer supporter partnership. Find out more about volunteering opportunities in Scotland and how to become a partner. 

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volunteering hours invested over the last year
Our volunteering roles
Changes to our programme in response to COVID-19. Please note, many of our programme activities will be conducted online until our network of schools and employers are in agreement that it is safe and right to reintroduce our face-to-face experiences.
Get involved
The network that works for everyone

The network that works

As well as making a lasting difference to a young person’s life, volunteering is a fantastic way to develop your own professional skill set, pass on your experience, and enhance your CV – it can even count towards many organisations’ CPD schemes.

And our events and programme activities can boost links within your local business community.

our volunteer stories
“Volunteering as a mentor has made me more confident and I have no doubt that this has developed my planning, preparation, and presenting skills.”
Katie Burrett, K. Burrett Cleaning Services
Al Lines, Moodys
Tomi Ojo, Media Trust

“If we can just encourage a millimetre of a shift in attitude in our students and their aspirations, it can grow exponentially into opening opportunities they never dreamed of.”

Beverley Webster OBE, Malaczynski Burn
“Delivering a masterclass was good for my own development – it’s not often I speak to students from local schools and it is completely different to presenting at work.”
Scott MacDonald, Technip FMC
0%
of volunteers said mentoring improved their coaching and leadership skills.
What we look for in our volunteers

We prefer our volunteers to be in employment as it allows the potential to offer students more opportunities. In Scotland, you must work with one of our employer partners and be nominated by them to volunteer.

You don’t need any specific qualifications or experience to volunteer, but we do look for the following qualities and behaviours:

  • Reliable
  • Caring
  • Inspiring
  • Empathetic
  • Patient
  • Outgoing
  • Open-minded
Support for volunteers

Ongoing support

We provide a range of onboarding and ongoing support, including training, briefing calls and handbooks. All hosted in our volunteer portal for easy, secure access.

We also have a team of Regional Managers and an Operations Team who are on hand to support you ahead of any masterclasses or workplace visits you may have, as well as handle any questions or issues you may have throughout your volunteering journey.

All mentors also receive emails to provide support ahead of their next meeting.

faqs in england, wales, and n.ireland

What volunteer roles can I do?

We offer different volunteer opportunities: mentoring a young person, delivering a masterclass, becoming a Local Advisory Board member in your local school and hosting work place visit. 

How does volunteering work during COVID-19?

Naturally, given the current situation, all volunteering will now be done digitally via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or – if required – WhatsApp video call.

Unless there is an agreement between the employer/volunteer/school/young person that it is safe to do it in person. 

Can I do more than one volunteer role at the same time?

Yes you can do, but it does depend on local availability.

Where do you operate?

We operate across the UK, in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland, in 101 Local Authorities. 

How much time does it take to volunteer?

This will vary depending on your role. A mentor is expected to meet their mentee once a month for a year for approximately an hour. Masterclasses take approximately an hour and can be delivered as one-off sessions. 

Do I need a DBS check?

All mentors are required to hold a DBS. We will invite you to complete a DBS check when applying to become a mentor. This process is free of charge for the volunteer.

I am not a British National. Can I still volunteer ?

There are no restrictions on volunteering for people from within the EU/European Economic Activity (EEA) area. However, for people outside the EU/EEA, there are various restrictions based on what type of visa you are travelling on. You can find more information on the NCVO website: https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/your-team/volunteers/recruiting/volunteers-from-overseas

What happens if I change my mind?

Depending on the role you undertake, we may ask for a commitment of up to a year. Of course we understand that your personal situation may change which could affect your availability as a volunteer. You can always contact us if you need to discuss your situation.

Will I be insured?

Volunteers are covered by the Career Ready insurance policy while engaged in any work on behalf of Career Ready.

What do I do in the event of an emergency?

If your emergency is about the safety of one of the young people we work with, get in touch immediately. You can contact the young person’s school coordinator if you have their contact details or the central Career Ready office: info@careerready.org.uk

If you or a young person are at immediate risk, phone 999.

What should I go if I’m away for an extended periods while volunteering?

Contact your Regional Manager or the central Career Ready office.

Can I get a reference?

We can provide you with a reference after you have been actively volunteering with us for a minimum of 6 months. Please note that this will be a reference with only factual information.

I completed my mentor application. Am I guaranteed to be mentoring a student?

Completing your mentor application is the first step in becoming a mentor. We will review your application and match you to a student depending on local needs and compatibility. 

How does volunteering during COVID-19 work?

Naturally, given the current situation, all volunteering will be done digitally via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or – if required – WhatsApp video call.

This could be subject to change if there is an agreement between the employer/volunteer/school/young person that it is safe to do it in person. 

How do you match students and mentors?

Students and volunteers are asked to answers questions during their application to the programme. We use your location, interests and areas of professional knowledge to match you with a student. 

Can I be matched to a specific school?

We do our best to match you where you have specified but this is not always possible. We prioritise our matches based on the address you have provided to ensure you and your mentee are in reasonable reach of one another.

What is an icebreaker?

All our mentor relationships are started with an icebreaker event in January/February, where mentor and mentee meet for the first time. It is usually held at the mentee’s school/college, which is a familiar environment and should allow them to feel more comfortable. The icebreaker will normally consist of a meet and greet, a few activities and some time to get to know your mentee. This is also a good time to swap contact details to schedule your second session.

Where are mentoring sessions held?

Given the current situation, all volunteering will be done digitally via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or – if required – WhatsApp video call.

In more normal circumstances we would strongly encourage you to hold mentoring sessions at your place of work as this gives your mentee the chance to visit a professional environment as well as saving you travel time. If this is not possible, please ensure you either meet at the school/college or in a public place such as a coffee shop. You should never be on your own with the student.

On occasion there may be a group mentoring session at the school/college which will be organised in advance – the school/college coordinator will inform you of this.

What do we talk about in the sessions?

You will be provided with a digital copy of the mentor handbook before your icebreaker. Your mentee will have a copy of their own. Each session has an agenda with clear learning objectives to guide you through.

In time, your mentee may come to you with their own agendas which should absolutely be prioritised. It is likely that their own agenda will mirror the handbook.

Who can I talk to if I feel the student is disengaged?

The mentor relationship doesn’t happen overnight so please try your best to be patient. The experience can be quite daunting for the student so allow them time to get comfortable. You are their sounding board, guide and critical friend and the relationship requires trust. If you still find that after a few meetings the student is disengaged please reach out to the school coordinator who will be able to chat with the student.

At the start of your mentoring relationship we advise you to obtain exam dates from students as it’s likely they will be very busy over certain periods of the year.

What do I do if I feel there is a safeguarding issue?

We take safeguarding very seriously and it is your duty as a responsible adult to report anything suspicious. Contact our national office at info@careerready.og.uk as soon as possible.

What is a Masterclass presenter?

You will deliver skills masterclasses which are pinned to learning frameworks which determine the appropriate level of understanding of the world of work and employability skills required for each stage of a students education.

How does volunteering work during COVID-19?

Naturally, given the current situation, all volunteering will now be done digitally via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or – if required – WhatsApp video call.

This could be subject to change if there is an agreement between the employer/volunteer/school/young person that it is safe to do it in person. 

Do I need a DBS to become a masterclass presenter?

No.

Where does the masterclass takes place?

Masterclasses can be delivered in the work place OR at school/college.

Will there be teachers present during the masterclass?

Yes the masterclass will be supervised by a school and/or Career Ready member of staff.

How long does it take to deliver a masterclass?

Each masterclass takes approximately an hour to deliver, excluding travel time.

Am I expected to create the masterclass content?

No, we provide a range of templates and guidance documents to make things even easier for you. The resources for masterclasses are complete and ready to deliver but we are happy for volunteers to adapt if you wish to highlight your sector and role. We will also support you ahead of the session.

How many students will be attending the masterclass?

The number of students attending the session will vary from approximately 10 to 30 students. We will confirm the student numbers with you ahead of the session.

What is a LAB member?

The Career Ready Local Advisory Board (LAB) is a group of local business people and school/college staff who drive the Career Ready programme and provide essential links between the school or college and the local business community.

Do I need a DBS?

You don’t need to have an active DBS with Career Ready.

What will I be doing as LAB member?

You will have various tasks such as promoting the programme to students in school and to local business in your network, and occasionally attending events (such as masterclass, icebreaker or graduation).

How often does the LAB meet?

It will depend on each LAB but they meet a minimum of three times a year across the Career Ready programme.

Where does the LAB meet?

This will vary, but LAB meetings are usually hosted in the school/centre, however they can sometimes take place via conference call.

Do I need a specific experience/job role to be a LAB member?

We have no expectation of where our volunteers work, we value the input and experience that all volunteers bring and the varied ways they have reached their current employment. We prefer our volunteers to be in current employment as it allows the potential to offer students more opportunities, but we recognise that volunteers can have a significant impact regardless of their current employment status.

What support will I receive? 

You will be supported by your school/centre coordinator and Regional Manager who will provide all relevant training and information you need to be part of a LAB.

What is DBS?

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the new name for what was a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

We require all Career Ready mentors to be DBS checked before we can assign them to a student. We undertake an enhanced check which also includes any information the police consider relevant.

Safeguarding of students and volunteers is of the utmost importance to us and under no circumstances will a volunteer be matched to a student unless they have a valid DBS Certificate.

I already have a DBS Certificate that is in date. Will Career Ready accept this?

We will only accept DBS certificates that are issued via Career Ready unless you have already signed up to the DBS Update Service. Once someone has signed up to this service they need not complete another DBS Check.

You can only register for the DBS Update Service once you have received your certificate. You can register for the update service using your DBS certificate number. You must do this within 30 days of the certificate being issued and as a volunteer there should be no charge to register with the update service.

We recommend that you register for the update service as your DBS then becomes ‘portable’ between organisations.

How do I apply to be a mentor?

Once you have registered as a volunteer on our website, you will be asked what type of volunteer role(s) you are interested in. If you want to be a mentor and you do not have a valid DBS Certificate you will then be directed to our partners GBG, who undertake DBS checks on behalf of Career Ready. It should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions during your DBS application you can contact GBG directly or contact Career Ready.

What do I need to complete the DBS application?

You must provide three pieces of identification to complete your application. You will need to possess at least one group 1 document (such as birth certificate, driving license or passport) and the remainder from group 2 (such as bank statement, council tax statement, utility bill, etc.). All group 2 documents have to be from within the time frame specific to those documents.

How do I get my documents verified?

Once you have inputted your personal details and identification document information into the online application you will need to print out a copy of the confirmation page.

You must then go to a post office with a printout of the confirmation page and your original identification documents to be verified.

Not all post offices offer the verification service. To view the post offices that offer this service you can click here and go to ‘application help’. You can also search for a post office on their website and choose ‘CRB & ID Verification Service’ from the drop down options.

If you do not go to the Post Office within 19 days of submitting your application, it will expire and you will be required to complete another application.

What happens next?

Once your documents have been verified at the Post Office it usually takes from a week to a month to receive your clearance. Past indiscretions are not an indicator of the time taken. Please note that the DBS can take up to two months (60 days) to go through the complete process.

Once you have been cleared by the DBS you should receive a certificate posted to your home address and Career Ready will receive an electronic notification. We do not receive a copy of the certificate.

Once you have received your certificate you then have 30 days to join the DBS update service. You don’t need to join the DBS update service to become a mentor, but we would encourage you to sign up for this free service. You can find more information about the Update Service here.

In some circumstances DBS clearance can take a bit longer than we expect due to the number of checks being carried out at that time. We advise you to complete your DBS application as soon as possible to avoid missing out on becoming a mentor. 

How much will it cost?

Applying for a DBS through Career Ready is free for volunteers. You will not be asked to pay to apply for the DBS online or to have your documents verified at the Post Office. If you are asked to pay for your DBS to be completed, please contact us.

What happens if my DBS has not arrived before I am due to meet my mentee?

You will not be able to meet your student one-to-one until you receive your DBS clearance. Where this is likely to impact on the relationship starting, we look at each delay on a case by case basis. It may be possible to meet with your student in the school/college environment if the school/college is agreeable to this.

What happens if there is something on my DBS certificate?

A member of the Career Ready staff will contact you to let you know what to do. Having something on your certificate does not automatically mean that you won’t be able to mentor a Career Ready student. We do not share any details on that matter with schools and employers.

I have some questions, who do I contact? 

Contact our volunteer team by email info@careerready.org.uk with any questions.

faqs in scotland

Who can become a mentor?

You can become a mentor, regardless of your age and stage of your career. The main criteria to becoming a mentor is patience, understanding and the desire to help a young person, committing your time and effort to them.

All mentors are required to have a PVG scheme membership with Career Ready (which Career Ready facilitates) to enable you to work one-to-one with your student.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor and your employer currently works with Career Ready, reach out to the Career Ready coordinator at your place of work. If your organisation is new to Career Ready or you don’t know who your employer’s coordinator is, you can contact us at Scotland.Enquiries@careerready.og.uk and our team can direct you to our leadership team your local Career Ready Regional Manager.

What is the commitment when becoming a mentor?

The Career Ready Programme in Scotland runs over two academic years, with students starting in the autumn of their 5th year of school. We recommend mentors and students meet around once per month for approx. 60-90 minutes, keeping in touch between meetings via text, email, or calls. 

When becoming a mentor in Scotland, you will also be committing to your organisation providing a four-week paid internship for your student in the summer between their 5th year and 6th year.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the delivery of the Career Ready Programme?

We recognise that for the foreseeable future we will need to rely on virtual alternatives for programme activities, only reverting back to face-to-face opportunities when governments’ guidance allows and in agreement with schools and employers.  You can read more information about our programme adaptations in response to Covid-19 here.

How do you match students and mentors?

Students and mentors are asked questions during their programme registration that help with matching. We use your interests, areas of professional knowledge and location to match you with a student. Perhaps your student has an interest in your industry or role, or perhaps you share common interests outside of work; the important thing is that there are shared interests upon which you can build a strong relationship.

I specified I wanted to be matched to a certain school, or with a student with a particular career interest, but I have been matched to another, why is this?

We do our best to match you where you have requested but this cannot be guaranteed. Many of the students who participate in Career Ready do so because they are unclear about their career options and plans.  A mentor’s experience of work as well as the skills and attitudes that underpin a successful career future is key without being specific to a particular career or job or sector interest.

When will I meet my student?

Most of our mentors and students meet each other at a Launch Event. In light of COVID-19, these events will be hosted virtually in December 2020 and January 2021.  

I cannot make the Launch Event. What should I do?

Please let us know as soon as possible if this is the case. We will tell your student’s school coordinator and they will get in touch to arrange the first meeting with your student. 

Where should we hold mentor meetings?

Once the Launch Event and first school led meeting have taken place, mentor meetings will take place virtually through an appropriate platform such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Facetime, taking into account any school, Local Authority or employer guidance on virtual mentoring. When face-to-face meetings become possible, mentor meetings should take place ideally in your workplace. You may also choose to meet in the school or in a public place such as a coffee shop at times. On occasion there may be a group mentoring session at the school.

What do we talk about in mentor meetings?

You will be provided with a digital copy of the mentor handbook before your mentor briefing which includes suggested agendas for each meeting as well as clear learning objectives to guide you. In time, students may come to you with their own agendas and ideas of what they would find most helpful to discuss.

Who can I talk to if I feel the student is disengaged?

A mentoring relationship doesn’t always happen overnight so please be patient. The experience can be quite daunting for a student, so allowing them time to get to know you and be comfortable is common.
If you still find that after a few meetings the student is disengaged please reach out to the school coordinator who will be able to chat with the student. You can also reach out to your Career Ready Regional Manager 
here.

What do I do if I feel there is a safeguarding issue?

We take safeguarding very seriously and it is your duty as a responsible adult to report anything suspicious. Contact your Regional Manager directly, or our national office at info@careerready.og.uk as soon as possible. You can find out more in our safeguarding policy.

What support can I expect to help me during this journey?

You will be invited to a mentor briefing where you will hear more about your mentor role. You will also be provided with a mentor handbook which provides details about the programme, timelines and suggested meeting agendas for you and your student. Every school has a dedicated school coordinator who is also available to support you, and you will be given the contact for your local Regional Manager who can assist with any queries you have during your mentor journey.

You will also receive regular bulletins from Career Ready which are packed with useful information about your upcoming meetings. Where possible, we encourage mentors from the same organisation to meet together occasionally to share ideas and experiences.

What is a Masterclass facilitator?

As a masterclass facilitator with Career Ready, you will be delivering one or more masterclasses, for which there is prepared session materials, and are underpinned by our programme learning outcomes and our Skills for Career Success framework.

Do I need a PVG to become a masterclass facilitator?

No you don’t need a PVG with Career Ready to deliver a masterclass. Any masterclass will have in attendance a teacher.

Where does the masterclass takes place?

Masterclasses can be delivered virtually, in the workplace or in school.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the delivery of the Career Ready Programme?

We recognise that for the foreseeable future we will need to rely on virtual alternatives for programme activities, only reverting back to face-to-face opportunities when governments’ guidance allows and in agreement with schools and employers. You can read more information about our programme adaptations in response to Covid-19 here.

Will there be teachers present during the masterclass?

Yes, the masterclass will be supervised by a school staff member (usually the Career Ready school coordinator or teacher).

How long does it take to deliver a masterclass?

Each masterclass lasts for approximately one hour, with additional time needed for your preparation. Dates, times and locations will be provided for any session you are supporting.

Am I expected to create the masterclass content?

No, we provide a range of support materials to make things easier for you. The resources for masterclasses are ‘delivery ready’, and sharing your experience and insights from your own experiences, sector and role really helps to bring the content to life for young people. Masterclasses have been tried-and-tested and your Regional Manager can support you with preparation.

How many students will be attending the masterclass?

There will be a maximum of 30 students in each session.

What is a PVG?

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership scheme is managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland. It helps ensure that no unsuitable people do ‘regulated’ with children and protected adults, who are defined as vulnerable groups.

Who needs a PVG?

All mentors in Scotland are required to have a PVG scheme membership (which Career Ready facilitates) to enable you to work one-to-one with your student.  You can find out more in our safeguarding policy.

How do I get a PVG?

Once you have completed your new mentor registration form, an electronic PVG application form will be emailed to you to complete.  Please complete and return this form via email to us as soon as possible. Full guidance notes will be provided alongside the form.

Can I mentor without a PVG?

No. All mentors must have a satisfactory PVG scheme membership in place with Career Ready to be able to work with a young person. If your PVG scheme membership is not in place when the programme commences, you will be supported by a school coordinator to schedule meetings with your student which will be supervised until your PVG membership is received.

I have a PVG already, do I need another one?

All mentors require a PVG scheme membership with Career Ready. If you already have a PVG with another organisation we will send you a form to apply to add Career Ready to your membership.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the delivery of the Career Ready Programme?

We recognise that for the foreseeable future we will need to rely on virtual alternatives for programme activities, only reverting back to face-to-face opportunities when governments’ guidance allows and in agreement with schools and employers. You can read more information about our programme adaptations in response to Covid-19 here.

What support does Career Ready provide?

You will work closely with one of our Regional Managers who will provide you with information, and support to help you set up and engage colleagues within your organisation. Once the programme is up and running, your Regional Manager will continue to check in with you, keep you updated and provide support at key touch points throughout the programme.

Your mentors will also receive fantastic support, briefing materials, and information to help them get the most out of their mentoring experience and relationship with their student.

Both our employer contacts and mentors will receive access to the Career Ready portal which will provide you with information about your students and their school, as well as a means of logging meeting dates and notes.

Mentors will also have a named contact in their student’s school – the Career Ready school coordinator – who will be their first point of contact for any guidance they require relating to their student.

Because of the work we do, we would really like students with an interest in a particular field. Is this possible?

If you do have a special request for the students that we match you with, we will do our best to accommodate, but sometimes this is not possible. Many of the students who participate in Career Ready do so because they are unclear about their career options and plans. A mentor’s experience of work as well as the skills and attitudes that underpin a successful career future is key without being specific to a particular career or job or sector interest. We ensure to the best of our ability that matches are within a reasonable distance of your office.. We also ensure that mentors are matched with a student with whom they share common interests as far as possible.