Volunteer at GWL

Volunteers have always been at the heart of our work and contribute to everything we do.

Our Volunteering Programme supports dozens of volunteers each year, aiming to give every volunteer the training and support they need to allow them to find their place within the organisation, regardless of how much or how little previous experience they have, and whatever their reasons for volunteering.

The Volunteer Charter logo. A green badge with the words "the volunteer charter" in white.

Reflecting our values, we are committed to providing the best possible volunteering experience for all our volunteers. We also recognise and are committed to the values and principles of  the Volunteer Charter.

What volunteers do

Volunteers are involved in all aspects of our work and in all our projects: delivering workshops, tour guiding, researching our archive, cataloguing, reception, admin work, literacy and numeracy tutoring and much more.

We always try to find a volunteer role which matches our volunteers’ interests and motivations.  Some volunteers come with particular skills, others may not have worked before but are keen to learn and try new things. Whatever our volunteers’ experiences and skills, we are keen to find a way to involve them in our work.

Volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Library from Glasgow Women’s Library on Vimeo.

What we offer

Our Volunteer Programme is rooted in our Core Values and ensures women from all walks of life can contribute and get involved in our work.   All volunteers receive a full induction when they start, ongoing support from staff and more experienced volunteers, and training as required.

The support we offer is tailored to each volunteer and takes into consideration individual needs and motivations for volunteering, whether that’s to meet people, learn, play an active role in the community or share skills and knowledge with others.

A few examples of the support we offer volunteers:

  • we endorse the social model of disability and are keen to make volunteering accessible to women with disabilities by removing any barriers which might hinder volunteering
  • we tailor roles to suit our volunteers’ interests, confidence, skills, literacy, language skills, and availability
  • we reimburse travel expenses, daily, easily, and when necessary, in advance.

It is difficult to sum up all of the ways in which volunteers benefit from volunteering, so below are some quotes which illustrate the difference volunteering can make to women’s lives:

“Having not worked for a number of years it has given the confidence to apply for jobs and to build my confidence in a work situation doing work I really enjoy.”
“Allows me to engage with art in a space where I feel comfortable and confident. Makes me happy just being in the library and feeling part of it. Provided a routine and regularity to my week.”
“It has really been a whole amazing experience for me l never thought volunteering could have made me feel so alive and wanting to learn more. Pushing me but in a good way. Helping with the amazing work that the GWL does and being part of this organisation who value their volunteers.”
“Volunteering helps my reading, learning about the archives and about history, meeting new people, getting involved in events, learning new skills”

You can read more about our current and previous volunteers’ experiences here.

We also refund travel expenses (up to £5.50 per day) and can reimburse in advance if necessary.

What we are looking for

Sometimes we will advertise volunteer roles which require particular skills or experience but above all we are looking for volunteers who:

  • Share GWL’s vision and values A laminated A3 sheet with the definition of "Openness and Respect" with colourful postits around on on which volunteers have writing their values.
  • Are familiar with our work, through borrowing books, attending events, groups or exhibitions
  • Are flexible, friendly and fun
  • Have a positive outlook and optimism
  • Value others contributions and views
  • Are supportive team members

And who are interested in developing:

  • Communication skills
  • An understanding of the GWL team structure and function
  • An understanding of feminism, the importance of ‘women’s space’ and the history and uniqueness of GWL
  • A willingness to learn
  • A desire to make their experiences of working as enjoyable as possible
  • An awareness of equalities issues: racism, homophobia, disability issues, mental health issues, the impact of violence against women etc.

There is no set requirement in terms of volunteers’ time commitment, this ranges from a few hours per month to a full day per week.  In addition, we would ask volunteers to make time for an induction (1.5 hours) and to attend one of our regular This Is Who We Are sessions (3 hours) to find out more about our history, values and work.

Who can apply?

Following a review of our recruitment policy we currently are only accepting new applications from:

  • Women who live in our neighbourhood (G40 postcodes)
  • Women who identify as having a disability, long-term or chronic health condition, sensory impairment, cognitive or learning disability or mental health condition
  • Women of colour or women from an ethnic minority
  • Women who are aged 16-25

We also accept referrals from organisations and services providing support to women who they feel would benefit from volunteering with us (whether they identify with any of the above or not). Please get in touch to find out how to make a referral.

All women-only opportunities and events are inclusive of Trans and Intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experiences of women. 

We also prioritise applications from women who have already visited us and are already familiar with our work, through borrowing books, attending events, groups or exhibitions.

You can find out how to apply at the bottom of this page.

About our recruitment policy

We are of course aware that our recruitment policy might be a disappointment for those who do not fall within our current priority groups.  Here is some additional information about how we have made this decision.

We are extremely grateful for every offer of help and support we receive. We would love to involve an indefinite number of volunteers in our work but, sadly, we simply do not have the capacity to offer opportunities to everyone who is interested.

We have therefore reviewed our recruitment policy, taking into consideration our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (which you can download here) and the following aims of the Volunteer Programme:

  • Providing supportive volunteering opportunities which are inclusive and accessible to all, and which benefit volunteers as well as helping GWL to fulfil its objectives
  • Ensuring our volunteer team reflects the diversity of Glasgow’s communities and brings together women whose paths may not otherwise cross, so that they can share experiences and learn from each other.
  • Involve as many volunteers as possible in many different areas of GWL’s work

With these aims in mind, and following a review of the diversity of our current volunteer team, we have therefore decided to prioritise applications from the priority groups listed above.

This policy will be reviewed regularly, so please visit this page again if you are still interested and available to get involved.

And we would love you to get involved and support our work in other ways and have listed some suggestions below.

Other ways to get involved

We love the enthusiasm of our supporters and hope that you’ll be interested in some of the other ways you can get involved and support us if you are not able to apply to join our Volunteering Programme.

  1. Recommend us to a friend or bring a friend with you next time you visit
  2. Join our fleet of PaperGrrls and help us spread the word
  3. Join our Digital Book Group
  4. Become a Friend of GWL
  5. Follow Us on social media and sign up to our monthly newsletter
  6. Come Along to a Regular Event: If you’re wanting to make friends, have a regular GWL date in the diary, or just want to see what we have to offer for the first time, we have a variety of groups that meet regularly at GWL. All are friendly, inclusive, and usually offer lashings of tea! Check out the Story Café,  our monthly Creative Writing Support Group, fortnightly Women Making It or regular Seeing Things trips.

How to apply

*Please note that due to a high volume of applications in recent weeks we are pausing volunteer recruitment. This will be reviewed in mid-August 2022. If you like to submit an application we are happy to keep it on file but please be aware that there will be a wait before we are able to process it.

You can download an application form and email it to info@womenslibrary.org.uk or post it to the address on the form.

Volunteer Application Form

When completing the form please don’t feel you have to share any personal or sensitive information which you are not comfortable sharing, and be assured that any information you do share is treated in the strictest of confidence and is only used in order to make volunteering as enjoyable and beneficial to you as possible. For example, you might wish to tell us that certain situations can make you anxious, or what adaptations we can put in place to make volunteering possible.  This kind of information helps us to tailor a role which is best suited to you and is flexible to your needs.

If you need any assistance completing the form or have any questions please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Gabrielle or Volunteering Programme Assistant Ren by phone on  0141 550 2267 or email info@womenslibrary.org.uk

The Volunteering Programme is generously funded by the Robertson Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery Players.

Made Possible with Heritage Fund
Red and black Robertson Trust logo