The Benevolence team volunteers (known as Honorary Representatives or “Hon Reps”) play a vital part in helping us make decisions about the help we give.
The role of an Honorary Representative is to visit applicants and the people who already receive assistance (beneficiaries) in their own home, to collect the detailed and personal information we need in order to tailor the support we give to each person. This might include financial assistance and/or advice on topics ranging from welfare benefits to accommodation and social care.
The ideal Hon Rep is approachable and organised. Find out how to join us and how we support you in the role. Our Hon Reps tell us that the role is interesting and rewarding, and that they see the difference made by the OA from year to year. Check our current volunteering vacancies for opportunities near you.
The role of an Hon Rep
As an Hon Rep you would be based at your own home, but travel to your visits. We provide the training and support you need to carry out in-depth interviews with our applicants and beneficiaries and assist them in completing our financial assessment forms. You do not need specialist welfare benefits knowledge: this is given by our paid staff at Head Office.
You will also write a visit report to let us know the applicant’s health, housing and social circumstances. If the beneficiary has been with us for some time, your Annual Review visits will update the team their current circumstances (Hon Reps do not make more frequent visits as this is not a befriending scheme.) You might also be able to tell them about other local sources of help.
The ideal Hon Rep
Our Hon Reps are very special people. When visiting people in their own homes, discretion, respect and confidentiality are ‘musts’, so the ability to listen in an empathetic way and look beyond the initial request for other needs is vital to success in the role. The report of the meeting would need to be clear and objective, so written skills are crucial. On a practical level, you will need to be able to communicate with us using our IT systems, and be able to travel to visits independently.
How to volunteer
For more information about becoming an Hon Rep, email Angela Bailey, Honorary Representative Support Manager. We will then send you an application pack, explaining what the role involves, ask for more information about you, including two references from people who have known you professionally.
Once your application and references have been returned and approved, we will arrange your induction and supply you with all the information and training you need.
We are currently looking for volunteers in the following areas:
How we support you
Once you have joined the team, we will contact you when a visit needs to be arranged. We provide you with ongoing support before and after a visit. We will also take into account your preferences, including the distance you are prepared to travel.
You will be insured for personal and public liability while volunteering with us, and your reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed according to our policies (we currently reimburse at the rate of 45p per motor car mile). From time to time we send newsletters and updates on our progress and arrange update days and roadshows at our Head Office, and around the country, so that we can all meet up, discuss relevant issues, and enjoy a day together.
We also have an allocated area of our website, (called the ‘community’) for Hon Reps, where we can exchange views and download useful information. This is accessed via the ’Login’ button at the top of our website.
What our volunteers say
“I have found the role to be interesting and worthwhile, but also rewarding, especially when one hears of the transforming effect which the OA’s support can have on a beneficiary’s life.”
– Geoffrey Smith, Honorary Representative
Geoffrey Smith QVRM served in the Royal Air Force as a regular from 1962-2001, retiring as a Wing Commander. He continued to serve as a RAF reservist – both full-time and part-time – and finally retired from military life in 2008.