Boundaries and Gifting policies

Boundaries and Gifting policies

Boundaries Policy

This policy sets out the boundaries to the role of Good Neighbours volunteers who are linked with vulnerable member of the community.

The Need For A Boundaries Policy

Boundaries are limits we set ourselves in everyday relationships, for example, what we share of ourselves. They can be set consciously or unconsciously. They are a fundamental part of volunteering and helps volunteers know where they stand on various issues such as working limits, conduct and confidentiality. They also avoid confusion which could cloud the development of a relationship.

A boundaries policy aims to ensure that the expectations and roles of all concerned are made clear from the outset.

Scope Of The Policy

No matter how detailed this policy is, issues that are not covered will inevitably arise. In these cases, as in all other cases of uncertainty, the golden rule is always to consult a member of the Good Neighbours team before going ahead.

General Boundaries Of A Volunteer’s Role.

As a general statement, volunteers should not be required to do anything which they have not been prepared for, or committed to, and in which Good Neighbours is unequipped to support them.

The Commitment Made By A Volunteer.

In taking on their general role, volunteers will have made a commitment to abide by the service’s guidelines, and most importantly, those in the volunteer agreement outlined above.

They will also have committed to giving a certain amount of time to their volunteering, doing certain activities in certain places.

However, it may be that the volunteer has other commitments and that from the beginning it is made clear that the timing, location or activities need to remain constant.

The commitment asked of a volunteer does not usually extend beyond meeting up and doing the activities/tasks agreed upon.

Personal Relationship Between a Beneficiary and Volunteer.

A strong friendship often grows between the people involved, and a volunteer may become involved to some extent in the beneficiaries’ personal life, and vice-versa. As long as the relationship is kept within certain limits, this is a very positive development and is encouraged.

As described in the section on volunteer’s commitments, such a relationship is not regarded as an essential element that must be committed by a volunteer: if it occurs, it will do so in the natural course of events.


Warrington Voluntary Action has a Confidentiality Policy which deals with this issue in depth. The firm rule is that volunteers (and beneficiaries) should not disclose any personal information learned in the course of their relationship. The only exception to this rule is if a volunteer learns something which causes them concern about the beneficiary’s welfare. This could be anything from teasing to financial impropriety or physical abuse. Any such matter comes under WVA’s Protection of Vulnerable Adults policy which gives guidance on the steps to be taken. These will always include consultation with the Project Officer(s) and may involve other organisations concerned with the beneficiaries’ welfare, and in extreme cases the police.

Contact Outside Volunteering Activities

Unless encouraged or suggested by the volunteer, the general rule is those beneficiaries should not make contact with a volunteer outside of these occasions. A volunteer should not divulge personal contact details without first discussing with their coordinator (Good Neighbours Project Officers).

Personal Conduct

Everybody involved in this project should be treated with respect and politeness at all times.

Physical Shows Of Affection

Physical shows of affection towards a beneficiary by a volunteer or staff member, such as hugging, are not appropriate. If a beneficiary makes a show of affection this should not be abruptly rejected in a manner which might cause offence but it should not be reciprocated or encouraged.

Volunteer Expenses

Volunteers should never be out of pocket in connection with their volunteering and are reimbursed for their travel expenses by Warrington Voluntary Action. At this moment in time, we cannot reimburse for any refreshments you may purchase during your volunteering.

Volunteers and beneficiaries should never lend or borrow money from each other.

What Volunteers Are Not….

A volunteer should be given sufficient training for the role, and be responsible for setting and monitoring boundaries of their relationship and making this explicit to the beneficiary.

The boundaries for Good Neighbours volunteer can be looked in terms of the roles they explicitly do not take on.

Not a Carer:

Volunteers are not expected to take on the formal care duties expected of family or professional carers such as administering medication, moving & handling, assisting eating and going to the toilet. Their role is that of a friend offering companionship and support with day to day activities that the beneficiary may not have support to do otherwise.

Moving & Handling:

There are some grey areas relating to moving & handling:

If a beneficiary uses a wheelchair but is able to get themselves in and out of a car unassisted, it may be acceptable for a volunteer to lift the wheelchair into the back of the car. The risk assessment should identify if this is likely to occur, and the volunteer should be provided with training by Good Neighbours. It must be ensured that the volunteer is physically capable of performing the task without a likelihood of injury to themselves.

If a beneficiary uses a wheelchair, a volunteer may push the wheelchair during the visit. The risk assessment should identify if this is likely to occur, and the volunteer should be provided with training by Good Neighbours. It must be ensured that the volunteer is physically capable of performing the task without a likelihood of injury to themselves.

Medical Emergencies

As outlined in the sections above, in any medical emergency, volunteers should not hesitate to contact the emergency services, usually to request an ambulance with paramedic.

Boundaries to roles of others involved in the service

Most of this policy concentrates principally on the role of volunteers.

The boundaries to be observed by others (and the roles they need to perform) are touched on above and are looked at more fully here.

1. Beneficiaries (individuals directly supported by Good Neighbours volunteer).

  • Beneficiaries should treat volunteers with respect.
  • They also have a duty to contact the Project Officer(s) (who will inform the volunteer) if they cannot keep an appointment, or if they wish to end their volunteering.
  • They should not contact the volunteer outside the occasions or times agreed with the volunteer.
  • They must maintain confidentiality regarding the volunteer at all times.

2. Carers/Referrers:

In many cases beneficiaries will also receive help from family members, Social workers or carers, who may have referred them into the service. In addition:

  • The referrer must tell the Good Neighbours team during the referral process and at the risk assessment about any medical or behavioural issues on the part of the beneficiary which might possibly affect the volunteer’s role.
  • The referrer should not ask the volunteer to take on inappropriate roles, such as that of a Carer or Advocate.
  • Any suggestion that the volunteer should take on minor care roles must be referred to the Good Neighbours team
  • In any discussion about Person Centred Planning, they should advise the volunteer to consult with Good Neighbours  team on the issue.
  • They should ensure the rules of no overnight stays are observed.
  • They must maintain confidentiality regarding the volunteer   

3. Project Officers

  • The above must endeavour to find out all relevant information about any medical or behavioural issues on the part of the beneficiary which might possibly affect the volunteer’s role.
  • Must be aware of the medical/ health problems of the beneficiary and can sign post them to alternative projects if they are not suitable for Good Neighbours
  • Must provide adequate support and advice to volunteers regarding their role and any boundaries issues that arise.
  • Must provide or obtain access to any training needed by the volunteer in the performance of their role.


Policy on Gifts

Volunteers are not allowed to receive gifts or money of any kind which could in any way be interpreted as bribes or an attempt to bring influence or pressure to bear.

Under no circumstances can volunteers receive payments for their service from beneficiaries as a means of thanks.

However, small gifts for example, flowers, biscuits or chocolates at Christmas or special occasions could be acceptable. Each volunteer should declare such gifts, however small, to their Project coordinator.

If in any doubt whatsoever on this issue, the matter must be discussed with the Project coordinator or Project manager before acceptance of the item.

The Gateway, 89 Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1SR Tel: 01925 246880
Registered in England & Wales as a Registered Charity 1129343
and as Company Limited by Guarantee No:6805818

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