Volunteer FAQs


Q: What does “inner-city” mean, anyway?

A: "Inner-city school" is an informal term for the neediest schools in Vancouver, as ranked by the Vancouver School Board. These are the schools we work with, and the kids we support attend these schools and live in the neighbourhoods surrounding these schools. Some students at these schools come from families with low incomes and low education levels, and many households are run by single parents and/or English language learners, so the kids at these schools don't always have someone who can help them with reading or their homework, or just encourage them to dream big. 

Q: Do I need to have experience working with kids?

A: No!

It is most important for you to love reading and writing, and to be fully committed to supporting the Writers' Exchange kids.

New volunteers learn all about Writers' Exchange during a 2-hour orientation. During programs, our extraordinary staff team is available to answer questions and deal with any issues that arise. After every shift, volunteers and staff debrief the day to talk about what went well and to brainstorm ideas for responding to challenges. We also provide awesome training opportunities to allow all volunteers to build their skills and confidence.

Q: I really don’t have much time, can I still help out?

A: You bet!

Our in-school programs require a minimal commitment of one day a week for 1.5 hours for 4 weeks.

Q: My schedule is kind of crazy and I can’t commit to the same time every week. Is that ok? 

A: We recommend that you try one of our in-school programs. They only require a commitment of one day a week for 1.5 hours for 4 weeks, which you can hopefully fit into your busy schedule.

Writers’ Exchange works regularly with inner-city youth whose lives are often pretty complicated. With so many uncertainties in their lives, it’s important for these kids to have consistency. The more you get to know the kids, the more they want to learn with you. Every day you spend with the kids builds that trust they have in you.

There are 168 hours in a week. How about trying to commit to volunteer for just 2 of those hours? Now, that seems pretty reasonable, don’t you think? When you commit to helping the kids, they get to see you in that program every week, and gain the confidence that they can achieve anything. You’ll be impressed in how much you can accomplish committing to one semester.

Q: All of your programs happen during the day and I work 9 - 5. Can I still help out?

A: For sure!

Bring your employee team with you so that all of you can get kids excited about reading and writing! If you think this could be a good fit for your team, please contact our Volunteer Manager at sjhamilton@vancouverwe.com

Another option is asking your boss for a couple hours off a week to allow you to volunteer with us. You'd be surprised how many bosses are cool with the idea if you work up the courage to ask. We're happy to help convince the higher ups, just drop our Volunteer Manager a note at sjhamilton@vancouverwe.com

Q: I'm not super creative. Is that OK?

A: No problem!

Our staff and programming volunteers create wacky activities for the kids every day, and all you need to do is show up and support the kids. Trust us, the kids will help you discover that you are much more creative than you think!

Q: Do I have to plan and lead programs?

A: Nope.

Our staff programmers invent fun, creative activities for all of our programs. Your role is to help the kids complete the activities to the best of their ability and to provide plenty of support and encouragement along the way.