Community Challenge and volunteering

Our Community Challange programme gives staff the chance to undertake a voluntary activity one paid day per year. Generally, these are carried out as groups with the team manager liaising with a charity or other not-for-profit community organisation. In the past teams have done things like decorating a community room or clearing/building a garden area. Other activities might be better suited to individuals especially if drawing on specific skills, expertise or qualifications they want to use, or may reflect their neurotype or personal preferences. 

General considerations  

If going as a team, the team manager should think about their colleagues and what kind of Community Challenge would best suit the individuals and the team as a whole.  

It is important that participants are not expected to perform beyond their physical capabilities or risk exacerbating any other physical or psychological health conditions.  

Reasonable adaptations should be considered to enable the inclusion of those with a disability who wish to participate. 


Part of our review and re-launch of the Community Challenge will be to initiate contact and establish available opportunities. Please see our list of organisations previously offering volunteering days for previous opportunities. Please note that the list details are not current and none of the suggestions listed have been vetted or approved by the University.


While we are updating the challenge process to streamline it, if you are undertaking a day, the current “light touch” process is as follows: 

Manager permission as individuals: Just as when taking leave for a holiday, you should gain your line manager’s permission to be absent and mark in your calendar.

Manager permission for a team activity: The team manager should approve undertaking a challenge day with their own manager or director and make sure it's noted in the calendar of team members attending.

Contacting organisations: You should contact them directly to make enquiries and arrangements. 

Risk assessment: Most charities and other community organisations should have their own risk assessment for volunteers available in writing. You must ask for a copy and forward it to this email address organisations have 5 employees or fewer, they may only have guidance rather than a Risk Assessment. In this case you should complete one of our University assessments or, if going as a team, the organiser/ team manager should complete this: University risk assessment and forward the completed one to

Insurance: When undertaking volunteering work our staff members count as “the public” and will therefore be covered by public liability insurance. They should, as a minimum, confirm that you are covered in writing or otherwise provide a copy of the insurance. 

Driving and car cover: Please look at the driving at work standard if driving forms part of the volunteering or if taking colleagues as passengers as you may need to have “business cover”: Driving vehicles on University business. 

Absence: There is no “absence category” in Trent which currently covers this. There will be when relaunched. In the interim, you should simply mark it in Trent under Learning/ My activities.

Do please let us know if you undertake a day or are in communication with an organisation. It’s great to know which organisations have engaged with this so we don’approach the same organisation twice.