What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files stored on your computer, created by websites to improve functionality (such as remembering your preferred language), ease of use (remembering that you have logged in for the duration of your visit, rather than requiring a password on each and every new page you visit) or other purposes.

Cookies cannot spread computer viruses or access the contents of your computer. However, they may contain personally identifiable information.

How we use cookies

On the VSO website we do not use any cookies containing any personal information (such as your name, email address, etc). Where cookies are used to identify you (when logging in), they do so with an automatically generated string of random letters and numbers (known as a session ID).

Our cookies fall into three main types: ‘strictly necessary’ cookies, without which we could not provide functionality directly requested by the user (such as the volunteer application form), ‘performance cookies’, used to improve our site, and 'advertising cookies'.

A more detailed breakdown of cookies created by VSO websites is provided below.

How to disable cookies

If you would prefer not to receive any cookies from us you can configure your browser to reject them. Where your browser is configured to accept cookies we shall take this as consent to use cookies as outlined in this document. Please note that blocking cookies may result in parts of our website no longer functioning properly for you.

For information on how to change your browser’s cookie settings, please refer to

Our cookies

Google Analytics

These cookies are set by Google Analytics. Data from Google Analytics is used on an aggregate, rather than individual, level to improve our site (e.g. streamlining or signposting a user journey which shows high drop-off). They therefore count as “Performance cookies”. Further information on GA cookies can be found at:

Google Analytics does not collect personal information.

__utma Stores the amount of visits, the time of your first visit, the previous visit, and your current visit. It does not contain any personal information and is used only for analytical purposes. Expires in 2 years.
__utmb This tracks a single session (30 minutes). It does not contain any personal information and is used only for analytical purposes.
__utmc Used by an old version of Google Analytics but no longer set, this serves the same function as utmb, above.
__utmz Stores where you came from (eg. search engine, search keyword, link). Expires in 6 months.


We use HotJar to see how visitors interact with areas of a page. No personally identifiable data is captured during this process. You can view HotJar’s privacy policy and information on how you can opt out.

_hjDoneTestersWidgets Hotjar cookie. This cookie is set once a visitor submits their information in the Recruit User Testers widget. It is used to ensure that the same form does not re-appear if it has already been filled in. Expires after 365 days
_hjIncludedInSample Hotjar cookie. This session cookie is set to let Hotjar know whether that visitor is included in the sample which is used to generate funnels. Expires after 365 days
_hjShownFeedbackMessage This cookie is set when a visitor minimizes or completes Incoming Feedback. This is done so that the Incoming Feedback will load as minimized immediately if they navigate to another page where it is set to show. Expires after 365 days

Acquia Lift

We use Acquia Lift to see how visitors interact with our website and customise their experience based on their interests. Users are assigned a random unique identifier and no personally identifiable data is captured. 

tc_ptid Acquia Lift cookie. Randomly generated person identifier (used to associate a visitor with their profile).
tc_ptidexpiry Acquia Lift cookie. Tracks the tc_ptid cookie expiration date.
tc_q Acquia Lift cookie. Local queue to store page views, clicks, or other captures when events do not have time to be submitted to the server, due to user or client actions.
tc_ttid Acquia Lift cookie. Touch identifier – a logical grouping of interactions a web visitor may have with the website during their time on the site.

Third party cookies

Where we have content embedded from third-party sites (such as Facebook and Youtube), those sites may set their own cookies. The contents and lifespan of these cookies are not under our control. Please visit these sites for further information on their privacy and cookie policies, or visit for general information on controlling or disabling cookies.

Advertising cookies

You may see adverts for us elsewhere on the internet. The cookies we use to present you with adverts may be based on the types of content you visit the most, or on previous visits to our website. None of these cookies identify you as an individual.

To help us deliver relevant advertising using cookies, we use Google DoubleClick. Find out more about Google DoubleClick.