Volunteer policy

A Festival volunteer is someone who gives their time freely to help the Festival achieve its aims and objectives.

Oxfordshire Science Festival (OSF) is a charity whose vision is a world where the complexity, wonder and opportunities of scientific research are explored, challenged, celebrated and enjoyed across society. We want to support, grow and diversify the community of people who are interested in and involved in research and innovation. The Festival seeks to involve volunteers because we believe that they are the best people to connect locally, and we wish to give them the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for science. Our volunteers are highly valued, and we seek to offer a rewarding volunteering experience.

Our volunteer policy is underpinned by the following principles. OSF will:

  • ensure that volunteers are appropriately integrated into the organisational structure and that mechanisms are in place for them to contribute to our aims
  • expect all staff to work positively with volunteers
  • recognise that volunteers require satisfying work and personal development and will seek to help volunteers meet these needs.

OSF operates an equality policy for both staff and volunteers. We recruit volunteers based on their skills and experience and will not discriminate on other grounds, including gender, marital or parental status, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age. In some circumstances, people interested in volunteering approach OSF expressing their interest. In other instances, roles will be advertised on mailing lists, on community noticeboards, on websites and via other appropriate networks.

As with all volunteering organisations in the UK, we can only involve foreign volunteers who have a visa which allows volunteering. If you are not a UK, EU or EEZ national, please send proof of your eligibility to volunteer.

All volunteers will be reimbursed for travel expenses (typically up to £5 per day, with higher sums agreed at the discretion of the Festival Manager) and other expenses associated with their volunteering role, as agreed before expenses are incurred, using the OSF expenses claim form. Receipts will be required for out-of-pocket expenses.

Induction and Support
All volunteers will receive introductory information for OSF and information about the relevant role. Guidance and support will be provided as necessary to enable volunteers to fulfil their roles. Where appropriate, volunteers may receive additional training.

All volunteers are welcome to feed back on progress and discuss future development and any areas of concern.

Should a volunteer wish to raise a formal grievance, the following procedure should be followed:

  • Problem raised informally with the staff contact
  • If the problem remains unresolved, the volunteer should formally write to the Festival Director, stating clearly what the grievance is
  • If the volunteer is still not satisfied, then they should write to the Chair of Trustees, who will look into the matter and respond to the volunteer.

All volunteers who have been accepted will be covered by OSF public liability insurance whilst they are on the premises or engaging in any work on the OSF’s behalf.

If a volunteer uses their personal car whilst volunteering, this must be covered by their insurance. Most insurers will cover volunteering activity for free; however, if there is a claim during volunteering time which has not been cleared by the volunteers’ insurer they could be deemed uninsured.

Health and safety
Volunteers are reminded that they have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their fellow volunteers, staff and visitors whilst volunteering. We ask you to cooperate in carrying out any duty or requirement relating to health and safety matters that is advised by OSF.

Attendance and timekeeping
We hope volunteers will alert their staff contact in advance should they need to be absent from or late to their placement for any reason.

Personal appearance
Whilst representing OSF, volunteers’ dress should be appropriate; the Festival wishes to convey an impression of efficiency and organisation. Therefore, without wishing to impose unreasonable obligations, volunteers are requested to look smart in appearance. Some roles will include provision of a branded t-shirt or name badge.

Volunteering is a partnership of trust between the volunteer and volunteer-involving organisation. As such, we trust our volunteers to keep confidential any information or materials relating to the affairs of OSF which are by nature confidential, both during and after volunteering. This does not include anything which is published by OSF or which comes into the public domain by another means. A known breach of confidentiality will initiate our dispute resolution procedure (see below).

Dispute resolution
If a member of OSF staff is concerned about the conduct of a volunteer, an informal discussion will be held with the volunteer, in confidence, to explain the problem and to attempt to identify practical solutions and a timescale for implementing these solutions. A formal warning will be issued in the case of a first incident of misconduct (but not gross misconduct), or if the volunteer has already received an informal warning. Cases of misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • unsatisfactory performance of a volunteering activity
  • acts of discrimination against any member of the public or OSF staff or volunteers on the grounds of gender, marital or parental status, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or age
  • breach of confidentiality
  • breach of OSF regulations, rules or policies.

If there has been no improvement after the formal warning, or if the individual has committed gross misconduct, OSF may terminate the voluntary placement with immediate effect. A period of suspension from voluntary duties may be necessary if a case needs further investigation. Cases of gross misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • theft, fraud and deliberate falsification of records
  • physical violence
  • bullying or harassment
  • being under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst volunteering for OSF
  • serious negligence which causes or might cause unacceptable loss, damage or injury actions or behaviour that may damage the reputation of the OSF.

OSF will provide confirmation of volunteering, to confirm time or tasks to a third party, at the written request of the individual once the period of volunteering has come to an end.