Making volunteering easy

Laura McFarlane-Shopes explains how Volunteer Centre Leeds' Outreach Programme breaks down the barriers to volunteering.

Volunteer Centre Outreach

Did you know that the Volunteer Centre can travel? We pack up our netbooks and bits of paper and head out all over Leeds. We do regular sessions for Leeds Federated Housing, Leeds Vision Consortium, Pudsey Jobcentre and have done talks for all sorts of people – from NHS staff to young people in Armley.

Volunteer Centre Leeds has just recruited two volunteers to support this ever-expanding programme. So if you work with people who might want to volunteer but would struggle to get to the Volunteer Centre, please get in touch.  

Why leave the Volunteer Centre?

It’s a good question  - we have a great time at the Volunteer Centre at Great George Street. There are three main reasons why we leave our happy home.

1. Geography

Some people live a long way from the city centre and it makes a lot more sense for us to go to Pudsey than for everyone to travel into town. Someone came into the Centre last week who had walked here from Seacroft.

So if you are in Morley, Otley, Pudsey or anywhere else that makes it difficult to travel to Leeds, invite us to come and chat about volunteering.

2. Support

When someone comes into the Centre, we get them to fill out a form to help them narrow down what they would like to do and then go through our database with the person, trying to find that perfect volunteering opportunity just for them. Next we give them the full details of the best few opportunities and it’s over to them to read through at home, give it a good think and contact the organisation directly.

Sometimes people come to the Volunteer Centre with a support worker who can help them follow up the volunteering opportunity, and others will go back to an advisor or friend who is helping them volunteer. However, it is sometimes much easier if we go to where the support is already. At St. Anne’s Community Centre and Leeds Federated Housing there are people to help follow up our interview by helping someone phone an organisation or fill in an application form.

The outreach programme helps break down some of the barriers to volunteering. It gives access to those without the confidence to come into the Centre and makes sure things like application forms and phone calls don’t get in the way. If you could help people in this way, please get in touch and we can come run a session on volunteering.

3. Spreading the word!

Believe it or not, there are people that don’t know the Volunteer Centre! I know, whoa. That’s why we do talks to groups of people large and small to make sure everyone who wants to volunteer has the information they need.

Again, if you would like us to come do a talk about volunteering – the benefits, case studies, how to get started – then please get in touch.

Contact the outreach team 

For more information about the Outreach Programme at Volunteer Centre Leeds contact Laura McFarlane-Shopes on  0113 395 0405 or email

Follow Volunteer Centre Leeds on Twitter @VolunteerLeeds or 'like' the  facebook page at  


Comments (2)

  1. Laura Elson:
    Jan 21, 2014 at 04:14 PM

    This is another brilliant blog. Outreach is so important for access to volunteering, as many groups of people who can really benefit from volunteering know very little about how they can get involved. In our prisoners and ex offenders project we use outreach to meet people in specific areas who wouldn't normally access volunteering, such as inside prisons and young offenders institutes and at women's centres and hostels. That way we can talk to people about volunteering on their terms, and in a safe environment and we've found working in this way is a really powerful way to help people with convictions find pathways into volunteering and away from offending. So far its working rather well!

  2. Wayne Mellor:
    Jun 03, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    I am a mental health service user, looking for volunteer work within mental health, can you help me?

Add a Comment

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>