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Volunteering FAQ

Who can volunteer 

Do I have to be a member of the Churnet Valley Railway or the North Staffordshire Railway Company?

  • It is advisable as the NSRC provide funding for projects and schemes across the railway. By being a member of the charity you have the opportunity to help with these projects. 

What age do I have to be?

  • In general (see exceptions below) there is no minimum or maximum age as long as you can make a useful contribution safely, the activity is suitable for your capabilities and that there is no legal restrictions for the designated task, for example train driving.
  • If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must give permission for you to volunteer, and you will always be supervised by an adult whilst onsite. We cannot always provide supervision in all departments, so this may restrict days younger people can volunteer without a parent or guardian visiting with you.

I am receiving benefits - am I allowed to volunteer?

  • Yes - but we’d suggest you inform your Job Centre about your volunteering duties. See the direct.gov website for full details.

Practicalities of volunteering with us

How much time do I need to give?

  • In general, there is no minimum time you must give but some roles do require a minimum number of turns per annum to maintain competency (such as operational roles). However the view of the railway this is your hobby, so you give what you can afford to do so, whether that’s one day a month or a couple of days a week. You can decide with the Head of Department what arrangement works for you while also meeting the departments’ needs. 

Will I be paid?

  • As a volunteer you will not be paid.

Will I be trained?

  • Yes, all volunteers will receive an induction to their chosen role and then any further training as required as you develop within the department. 

Once I start volunteering with you how I will be kept in touch with what’s going on? 

  • Most of our departments use word of mouth, for example a face-to-face briefing or one-to-one chat to keep volunteers informed of what is happening where they volunteer.
  • Many departments have their own social media groups to relay any calls for help or short notice changes, plus e-mail contact lists for organising projects and work parties.
  • There are also general social media groups across multiple platforms for all departments, which enables all volunteers to be kept abreast of any changes and upgrades around the railway, receive formal documents and announcements, and also allow the sharing of memories and experiences from your time on the railway.
  • Further Members of the NSRC receive a tri-annual journal detailing the latest activities associated with the railway plus a periodic e-newsletter, whilst Shareholders of the PLC receive an annual update from the company.

Reward and recognising our volunteers

What does the railway do for me? 

  • We help you to grow through the ranks and learn some new skills along the way.
  • We let you break away from the doom and gloom of modern life to the high life of the railways

Do you provide accommodation?

  • No we are not able to offer overnight accommodation, but we do have good relations with a number of local B&Bs for those travelling from further afield. Some of our regular volunteers travel from across the UK including Lancashire, Somerset and Sussex.
  • Leek Premier Inn _ Inc Link/ Details
  • Church Farm who I can’t think the name of _ Inc Link/ Details
  • The hotel in Foxt _ Inc Link/ Details
  • Hanley Premier Inn _ Inc Link/ Details

Will I be insured?

  • The company has two public and employee liability cover

I’ve decided I’d like to volunteer with you

  • To Sign up, please use the link below or the link on the top left of the page. Follow the instructions on the many ways you can Contact Us and someone will be in touch to invite you down for your first day of volunteering.

Once Volunteering

What happens if I don’t like my chosen department?

  • This is regularly the biggest fear we hear. The best advice we can offer is give it a go. However should you decide your chosen role is not what you wanted, then there is absolutely nothing stopping you from changing roles. Sometimes it is much easier to discover your preferred role once you have joined, and so you might find your ideal position whilst discovering the railway as part of another department.
  • A good number of our volunteers have moved across departments during their time on the railway. One particular case has seen a volunteer join the Motive Power Department to gain engineering skills, before moving to events and commercial. Another member joined for the Diesel Department but then went onto guarding, signalman and ops officer. 

Uniform and Expenses

  • Upon arrival of your first day we will discuss what specific items of clothing you will need, as this varies across the differing departments. In general, the railway will supply a name badge and hi-vis jacket where needed, but otherwise you yourself are expected to obtain the required items of clothing. Heads of Department can assist with sourcing these though, and provide details of outlets specialising in the range of clothing worn on a heritage railway.
  • With the natural flow of volunteers, member do often leave various items behind for re-use which are distributed amongst the remaining volunteers as required.