Volunteering with Sustrans: FAQs

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What is volunteering with Sustrans like?

Volunteering for Sustrans involves spending time carrying out an unpaid activity which benefits the aims and vision of the charity.

Volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual.

We support a wide range of volunteering activities that contributes to our work.

Sometimes our activities will be carried out for or alongside other groups or individuals.

Who we are acting on behalf of will determine the responsibility Sustrans has to the activities carried out.

Not all volunteering that supports Sustrans’ work is carried out on Sustrans’ behalf.


Where can I volunteer?

You can get involved anywhere in the UK.

This includes within your local community, at your nearest Sustrans hub or outdoors on the National Cycle Network.

We have volunteering opportunities in all nations, and you can in some cases also volunteer from home.


Who can volunteer?

We want everyone to feel able to volunteer and to feel welcome at Sustrans.

We're working to make it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle, and we want to make sure that there are ways for everyone to get involved in this mission.


Is there an age limit to volunteering?

No, there is no required age to volunteer (see exceptions below).

If you can make a safe contribution, the activity is suitable for your age.

If you are under 18 years old, your parent or guardian must give permission for you to volunteer.

You also must be supervised by an adult and not left alone. We cannot always provide supervision.

So, this may mean that younger people need to do volunteering with their parent or guardian.


Do I need any previous experience to volunteer?

No, you do not need any previous experience.

We would like to see people from all walks of life get involved and volunteer with us.

You will always be fully informed about the activity and tasks you will be involved in.

If you have any experience(s) or skills that you think could be useful, then please don’t hesitate to let us know too.

We would love to see how we can use your experience and skills to match our work and activities.



Can I volunteer with you…

… If I receive benefits?

Yes. We would suggest you tell your Job Centre about your volunteering.

See the Government's website for full details.

… If I am disabled?

We will always try to do all we can to accommodate your needs, so you can volunteer with us.

Your local volunteer coordinator will have a chat to see what activities you could take part in safely.

Currently 17% of our volunteers have told us that they are disabled* in our annual survey.

*These volunteers responded yes to the question "do you have any long term physical or mental health condition or illnesses?"

… If I live outside the UK?

It is your responsibility to make sure you can volunteer while in the UK.

If you are from the European Economic Area, you will be able to volunteer with us.

However, you should always check your visa conditions to be certain of this.

If you have any doubts or questions, you should contact UK Visas and Immigration.

… If I’m a refugee or asylum seeker?

If you have refugee status or have exceptional leave to remain, you are welcome to volunteer with us.

If you are an asylum seeker, you are also welcome to volunteer with us.

If your final appeal is refused and you are denied leave to remain, you will then have to stop volunteering with us.

… If I have a criminal record?

Yes, you can volunteer. A criminal record should not bar you from volunteering with us.

It may, however, be necessary to discuss the activities you can get involved in.

If you wish to make a confidential enquiry, please contact the Sustrans-wide Volunteering team on: sustransvolunteersuk@sustrans.org.uk

When you show interest in becoming a volunteer, the application form will ask you about any unspent convictions you may have.

An unspent conviction means that you are still to reach the end of the rehabilitation period of your sentence.

This will be defined under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Rehabilitation of Offenders Order 1978 (Northern Ireland).

When you have finished the rehabilitation period of your sentence, it will become a spent conviction on your criminal record.

As mentioned above, having a criminal record doesn't necessarily prevent you from volunteering.

This will be discussed with the local team during your first chat about the volunteering activities you would like to do.


How much time do I need to give?

Whatever the time commitment you wish to give, we will try to find an opportunity for you to contribute.

There is no minimum time you must give, but some activities and roles may require more regular involvement.

If you're looking for quick ways to volunteer then there are opportunities for small actions and one-off activities.


Will I be paid to volunteer?

As a volunteer you will not be paid.

We will make sure you don’t lose out financially when volunteering.

This means that we will cover your agreed costs, such as expenses for travel or lunch.

Expenses should be agreed with your Sustrans staff supervisor before they are incurred.


Will I be trained?

Yes, you will. However, what this training looks like will vary for different volunteering activities and responsibilities.

A volunteer organising led walks or rides will need specific activity leadership training.

Anyone carrying out activities as part of an organised event, or helping to care for the Network, will probably learn most by talking to other volunteers.

You may receive an induction to make sure you have everything you need to get started.


I'd like to become a volunteer. How do I get started?

Search for volunteering activities available near you.

Alternatively, let the local team know that you are interested by reaching out using the contact information below.

You can also fill in the online application form for a particular role or activity via the website.

Someone from the local team will then be in touch to discuss what happens next.

This will usually be a chat to learn more about you and to share our volunteering activities.


Who can I contact for more information about volunteering in my area?

You can find the contact details of the volunteer coordinator in your area below.

To reach someone in the team via phone, please call the number of the Sustrans office nearest you.

Please let the person you reach know that you are interested in volunteering and your location.

They will then make sure that a person from the volunteering team calls you back.


Northern Ireland
Phone number (Belfast office): 028 9043 4569

Phone number (Edinburgh office): 0131 346 1384


North-East, North-West and Yorkshire & Humber: volunteers-north@sustrans.org.uk
Phone number (Manchester office): 0161 923 6050
Phone number (Newcastle office): 0191 261 6160

Midlands & East: volunteers-midseast@sustrans.org.uk
Phone number (Nottingham office): 0115 838 6203
Phone number (Peterborough office): 01733 319 981

South: volunteers-south@sustrans.org.uk
Phone number (Bristol office): 0117 926 8893

London: volunteers.london@sustrans.org.uk
Phone number: 0207 017 2350


Will I need a disclosure/DBS check?

If your volunteer role involves regular contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults, you will need a Disclosure check which will be processed by Sustrans.


Are volunteers covered by Sustrans' Employers’ and Public Liability Insurance?

Sustrans does have insurance in place should an incident happen involving a volunteer when working on our behalf, and Sustrans were found to be inattentive.

Volunteers must work under Sustrans' guidance following our health and safety procedures, risk assessments etc.


How can groups get involved?

There are lots of ways groups get involved, which varies across the UK.

Contact your local Sustrans team to find out more.

For groups interested in supporting or being involved on their local National Cycle Network please email pathsforeveryone@sustrans.org.uk.

If you are based in Scotland there is the opportunity to apply for a Love Your Network grant.


My employer gives me some time to volunteer each year. Can I use this time to volunteer with you?

There are three ways in which employees from a business or organisation may volunteer some of their paid time with Sustrans.

An individual who has been given a day or two by their company to volunteer and approaches Sustrans wishing to volunteer with us.

A one-day event including activities such as vegetation clearance, litter picking or milepost painting undertaken by a team of volunteers from a business or organisation.

Skills- based/pro-bono
A business offers us specific skills-based assistance from their colleagues on a pro-bono basis. This could be a short or longer term corporate volunteering commitment, depending on the activity.

To chat more about organisational volunteering opportunities, email partnerships@sustrans.org.uk.


What can I expect from volunteering with Sustrans?

When volunteering, we can all expect to be treated with respect, dignity, and kindness by other volunteers and Sustrans employees.

We expect this to be supported by everyone.

This is stated in our Volunteering for everyone standard.

Volunteering is and should be for everyone.

It should be a space where you feel safe and able to give time to a cause you care about in your local community.


What is the Volunteering for everyone standard?

Our Volunteering for everyone standard is a document that is important for all volunteers and Sustrans employees to know about.

It supports everyone to have a greater understanding of:

  • The part we can all play in ensuring everyone feels safe, welcome, and included when volunteering with Sustrans
  • The values and behaviours we wish to uphold across Sustrans volunteering
  • How to be able to recognise when behaviour is unacceptable and needs addressing.

"One of my most favourite things about being a Sustrans volunteer is the camaraderie."

Become a Sustrans volunteer today