AVM loses its founder

John Ramsey speaking at AVM's launch in 2007

John Ramsey speaking at AVM’s launch in 2007

We are sad to announce that our founder, John Ramsey, passed away on Saturday 20th September following a period of illness.

Although his death was not unexpected, the loss is a profound shock to all who knew him. John was a tireless champion of volunteering and volunteer management.

Without his passion, drive and energy the Association of Volunteer Managers would not exist. A great volunteer manager himself, his gift was bringing people together from across the field to build the organisation that we are today.

He was our Chair 2005-09, and continued to be actively involved with AVM. In typical fashion, John volunteered to run a workshop at the upcoming AVM conference in October. He will be sorely missed.

Many of you will have memories to share and tributes to pay. Do please leave your comments here below or email us at info@volunteermanagers.org.uk if you prefer.

We will pass on all messages to his wife and daughter and extended family who can take comfort from the respect that he had within our community.

AVM Conference 2014 – tickets on sale now

hamilton_house_conf14

This year’s conference will take place at Hamilton House in London

Speak Up – Your voice together with AVM advancing our profession

We’re excited.  Our 2014 conference is ready to roll and we hope you will find what we’ve lined up for the day interesting, informative and very current.

SPEAK UP is the title of the conference and it will be held in London on 23rd October 2014.

So why not join volunteer managers from across the UK at this one day event and put your voice together with AVM’s to advance volunteer management as our profession?

Speakers include:

  • Dr Justin Davis-Smith (Executive Director of Volunteering and Development, NCVO) asking is formal volunteering finished
  • Joe Saxton (Driver of Ideas, nfpSynergy) talking about nfpSynergy’s latest research amongst managers of volunteers, and
  • Jamie Ward-Smith (Founder & CEO, ivo UK) showing what the new Do-It can do for us as volunteer managers

To see the full conference programme and to book your place (discount for AVM members of course).

Don’t miss out and see you there.

New survey for volunteer managers from JIVE (Justice Involving Volunteers in Europe)

Introduction to project and European research on volunteering within the Criminal Justice System (CJS)

I am leading an exciting new project in Clinks, the membership organisation for voluntary sector organisations working with offenders and their families, called Justice Involving Volunteers in Europe.

We are currently undertaking a piece of Europe-wide research on the role and value of volunteers within the sector because little has ever been commissioned, so I would like to hear your views and experiences by completing our online survey.

The project is exploring the role and value of volunteers across the European Criminal Justice System (CJS), with a particular focus on (ex) offenders, their families and victims of crime.

This research will come together in a final report to be formally launched in Germany next spring 2015.  We will disseminate the findings to policy makers and agencies across the EU in the hope to put volunteering within the sector on government agendas, and really promote its value to the sector and wider society.

How can you have your say and feed into this research?

As volunteer managers I don’t need to win you over or persuade you of the importance and the benefits of volunteering because you already know! However, what I would like is to hear your opinion and experiences of recruiting, training and managing volunteers within your organisation; it is this information which is vital to the project and will help shape in part its direction and structure, so please spare me 20 minutes of your time to complete the survey and help us inform volunteering for the future.

Further information and resources for you

Clinks will be running its ‘Working with offenders’ training course on 2nd and 3rd October 2014 – you can find out more here and submit an application.

Clinks has also published a range of free guides targeted at those who involve volunteers, or provide mentoring and befriending services to (ex) offenders, these guides are designed to support any organisation whether they are already established or just setting up. Hard copies are available on request.

The project is funded by the European Commission. Please visit our webpage for further information including newsletters and details of our other partners.

It would be great to hear some of your thoughts and views – you can email me at Robert.Price@clinks.org


Written by Robert Price – Events Co-ordinator – Clinks

Volunteer management qualifications in Wales

This post comes from Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

Managing, supervising and inspiring volunteers is a key part of the work of a third sector manager; volunteers do not have to follow you as a leader, instead they choose to, so inspiring and keeping them on bard is a challenging job.

WCVA has been working with Learning to Inspire to develop a suite of qualifications in volunteer management.

Learning to Inspire will be offering two programmes of learning which can help you gain a professional qualification and recognition of your volunteer management skills, giving you a choice of studying at level 3, 5 or 7.

Conwy

  • Day 1 Tuesday 21.10.14
  • Day 2 Tuesday 18.11.14
  • Day 3 Tuesday 13.01.15
  • Day 4 Tuesday 10.2.15

Cardiff

  • Day 1 Tuesday 30.09.14
  • Day 2 Tuesday 28.10.14
  • Day 3 Tuesday 25.11.14
  • Day 4 Tuesday 20.01.15

The Art of Managing and Supervising volunteers – ILM Level 3

On this programme you will learn the tools to transform your skills as a manager or supervisor of volunteers. This will enable you to:

  • Radiate integrity and congruence by understanding your own motivations and ‘map’ of the world
  • Inspire others with your own clear vision
  • Have a greater influence through understanding the deepest needs of those around you
  • Create a culture of individual worth by learning how to communicate with respect and appreciation
  • Embrace personal transformation and learn how to manage your own state when the going gets tough

The programme is accredited through the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and offers the opportunity for learners to receive Certification as an ILM Development Award. In addition, if learners complete relevant tasks and assignments they can receive a Level 3 Qualification in The Management of Volunteers.

Costs

From £760 (up to 50% funding available for eligible third sector organisations in Wales).

To book places or for further information about the programme and funding available, please call Jo or Sandra on 0845 050 7676 or email info@learningtoinspire.co.uk
The art of leading volunteering in the organisation – Level 5 & 7

Learning to Inspire will also be developing programmes specifically for those involved in the management of volunteers in Wales, at Level 5 and at Post Graduate Level 7.

These programmes will be available in late spring/early summer 2014.

For more information please email info@learningtoinspire.co.uk or call 0845 050 7676

Increasing the value and impact of volunteer management

Please find attached the presentation and material from the workshop presented at NCVO’s Evolve event on 16 June.

  • Kristen Stephenson, Volunteer Management and Good Practice Manager, NCVO
  • Debbie Usiskin, Vice Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers
  • Rachael Bayley, Director, Association of Volunteer Managers and Head of Volunteering Development, Save the Children

 

Occupy volunteer management

Before going further with the discussion of professionalisation and volunteer management, it’s useful to recap on where we might think volunteer management fits on the scale of job, occupation and profession.

Is volunteer management my job, my occupation or my profession?

What stage are you at?

Job-Occupation-Profession (1)

It’s clear we’ll all have different answers to this question. So it’s a great place to start this discussion because how we answer it, leaves us with a useful grounding when we come to look at the issue of professionalisation of volunteer management.

If a job is an activity with an economic role usually directed toward making a living, what is an occupation? And how is that different from a profession?

What is an occupation?

Occupation – a cluster of job-related activities constituting a single economic role that is usually directed toward making a living. (The Social Organisation of Work, p.447, Randy Hodson, Teresa A. Sullivan (2007)

This is a pretty broad definition. It also ties volunteer management – the occupation – to the idea of making a living. This is problematic if we’re looking for a definition that can include those in volunteer management working on a voluntary basis. We’ll come back to this issue in more detail in a future post.

Going by this definition, a contender for the moment that volunteer management became an occupation might be when it began to be more common to see full-time volunteer management roles – or at least roles where the central focus of a part-time role was on volunteer management.

More often in the academic literature on professionalisation, the word “occupation” is defined in opposition to “profession”. For example:

“Persons engaged in an occupation are not paid for their knowledge, but only for what they produce.”

Others emphasise that what distinguishes an occupation from a job is the scope for career development. As career development opportunities within the volunteer management field have grown, so it has developed as an occupation.

While career development within volunteer management is possible, it remains a field where the turnover of people involved remains relatively high.

By asking whether volunteer management is an occupation, we can start to see more clearly whether the foundation exists to develop a profession. Much of the criteria we might want to use to assess how far down the route of professionalisation volunteer management is, can also be used to assess how mature it is as an occupation.

Table six prof occ categories

This graphic is supposed to give an illustration of the spectrum covered by the range from job, occupation and profession, in order to help frame the discussion on professionalisation of volunteer management.

Employers fail to recognise their employees’ occupation

In the early stages, where a job may develop into an occupation, employers who create and support those jobs are incredibly influential in the process. Arguably, as occupations professionalise, the balance of influence shifts between the individual professionals and the organisations who employ them.

As a result, key stakeholders in the early development of volunteer management are the employers of volunteer managers. Changing perceptions of employers of volunteer managers may be one of the most single influential factors in the development of volunteer management as an occupation.

Yet in many cases looking at job descriptions advertised, it’s common for employers still to see volunteer management as a function, rather than as a rounded occupation. If an occupation is a “cluster of job-related activities”, employers can tend to see volunteer management as just one specific activity and miss the bigger picture.

Lack of funding for volunteer management or lack of understanding of the return on investment, may make employers reluctant to go beyond seeing volunteer management as a function and develop full-time volunteer management roles which are fully integrated in their organisation.

This situation may be due to a number of factors such as a lack of research, evidence and public awareness of the value of volunteer management. This can lead to a kind of chicken and egg scenario in the step towards becoming an occupation, where employers don’t design roles that reflect volunteer management as an occupation, which in turn reinforces employers’ perception that volunteer management is not an occupation.

The result is that volunteer management may often be something people are employed to do as part of a wider job description.

In some organisations, volunteer management may not even be seen as a primary part of the work of many of those who manage volunteers, merely as a secondary consequence of other aspects of the role. For example, fundraisers who have manage volunteer fundraisers, operational staff recruited to run services that support their service user through the engagement of volunteers, etc.

There could be a number of reasons for employers to act in this way (with all the consequences it has for the development of volunteer management as an occupation):

  • lack of recognised pathways into volunteer management
  • lack of understanding of how to evaluate volunteer management skills and experience
  • lack of understanding of the scope of volunteer management, etc.

This brings us back to these criteria for professionalisation. They can give us a sense not just of the professionalisation of volunteer management, but also how developed it is as an occupation.

A key mile stone for the development of volunteer management as an occupation has to be the introduction of the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the Management of Volunteers (PDF) in 2003 and their revision in 2008.

In 2003, a key challenge was the link between standards for individuals (NOS), with the development of standards for organisations (Investing in Volunteers). In 2008, the revision of the NOS included the challenge of linking these standards with accredited qualifications and learning in volunteer management.

For the first time, those in volunteer management were involved in agreeing a collective response to the questions of identifying the scope, performance standards, experience, personal qualities, knowledge and skills that form part of the emerging occupation in volunteer management.

The NOS framed the work of the occupation of volunteer management as covering:

  • A. Develop and evaluate strategies and policies that support volunteering
  • B. Promote volunteering
  • C. Recruit place and induct volunteers
  • D. Manage and develop volunteers
  • E. Manage yourself, your relationships and your responsibilities
  • F. Provide management support for volunteering programmes

It is also suggested a list of those in an organisation who may have an interest in the standards of this occupation:

  • Chief executive
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Project manager
  • Volunteering manager
  • Director of resources
  • Information and advice officer
  • Volunteer leader
  • HR personnel
  • Voluntary services manager
  • Trustee

We’ll revisit some of the stumbling blocks that volunteer management has had, and continues to have, in its development as an occupation.

In summary, before we begin the debate on volunteer management and professionalisation, we need to recognise the diverse range of viewpoints we have based on where we feel we are on the scale of job, occupation and profession; where we’ve come from and where we’re interested in going.

Unintended consequences

It was Katherine’s last day at work before retirement. She’d been a Volunteer Manager for nearly sixty years now. Since they pushed the retirement age up to 85 a few years back she’d resigned herself to sticking with the profession for a little longer.

Katherine had seen so much change in the profession since she fell into the role back in 2014 as a fresh faced 25 year old, full of ‘I-can-change-the-world’ optimism and vigour.

“Where did that energy go?”, she wondered to herself.

Her last day at work saw Katherine giving a talk to the local networking group for members of the Association of Volunteer Management Professionals (AVMP). It was an opportunity for her to reflect on all the changes she’d seen and to give people (many new to the field) a sense of the history of the profession. After all, she’d forgotten more about volunteer management than many of them had even known.

Back when Katherine had started, a profession for Volunteer Managers was still in its infancy. The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM), as they were called back, then had just started consulting members on the development of a code of practice. Wheels that had been slow to turn quickly gathered pace as the discussions intensified and finally, by the end of 2015, the code was in place.

And that was the first problem. The code had been agreed by paid workers who specialised in leading and managing volunteers and volunteer programmes. There had been a fair bit of diversity in that group, some headed up volunteering at a strategic in large organisations whilst others were in the trenches, managing volunteers day-to-day in a range of contexts. That in itself had been an achievement as there had been all sorts of associations and networks for people working in different contexts at that time.

The problem though was that the majority of people who managed volunteers hadn’t been involved. All those volunteers who did volunteer management roles. All those paid staff in organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors but weren’t specialists in volunteerism – the business managers, administrators, nurses, doctors, teachers, fundraisers etc. – they all had no say in the code.

Looking back it was clear that this had been one of the causes of the two tier set up Katherine and others struggled with now. The AVMP which stood up for volunteering specialists and the Association of Managers of Volunteers (AMV) who spoke for everyone else. Sure the two bodies agreed on some things but more often than not they were at loggerheads, the AMV accusing the AVMP of being elitist and exclusionary, the AVMP accusing the AMV of undermining professional standards by not having codes of practice, qualifications etc..

Of course, the codes of practice and qualifications did give the work of AVMP members much needed rigour. Organisations knew that if you employed an AVMP member to run your volunteer programmes you were getting someone who knew their stuff and would do a good job. Lessons had been learnt early on from other fields that just because someone earned a good wage didn’t make them competent. As AVM developed into AVMP between 2020 & 2025 they made sure that their members were highly effective rather than just highly paid.

But all those structures had caused problems too. It had vastly narrowed the entry routes into volunteer management, resulting in a far less diverse field than it had been before. That caused the first criticisms of AVMP being elitist, a legacy that sadly continued all these years later.

With hindsight it had perhaps all been to process focused too, with Volunteer Managers having to jump through endless hoops to prove their worth. That was until a better balance was achieved, with academic and vocational aspects carrying equal weight in the accreditation process. But this still caused problems for those whose years of prior experience suddenly counted for nothing unless they had a piece of paper in their hands. Many of those had simply given up, quit or moved on, often using their experience to take up senior roles in Volunteer Involving Organisations, their disenchantment with what volunteer management had become causing them to sometimes be too hard on their own Volunteer Managers. It had also resulted in a big loss of knowledge and experience that would have been invaluable in the education of new Volunteer Managers.

Of course, those issues worked themselves through over time but it had been a difficult and painful few years for the emerging profession and for the individuals affected.

And then there had been the credibility issue.

All the original codes of practice were clear on what the volunteering was that members of AVMP led and managed. It involved no reward and required no incentive. Nothing of any material value was ever exchanged. Ever. Volunteers only gave time if they freely chose to. In short, volunteering was a neatly defined and fixed reality.

Looking back over sixty years Katherine could see how volunteering had changed and evolved because volunteers themselves had changed. People today lived different lives than people sixty years ago. Looking back it was obvious in a way it hadn’t been at the time that defining ‘valid’ volunteering in terms of what had come before was the wrong call.

In the last sixty years incentives and rewards had become more commonplace and accepted. Volunteering didn’t suffer, it changed.

In the last sixty years (in fact even before then) people got something material out of their volunteering. It had remained the case that volunteers weren’t paid a wage for what they did (that had been a line in the sand that nobody was willing to cross) but schemes such as those that used to be called Timebanking or where volunteers got credits they could exchange in stores had all developed. Volunteering didn’t suffer, it changed.

In the last sixty years people had realised that the absence of a free choice to volunteer wasn’t just there when someone was forcing you to give time in exchange for graduating school or claiming a benefit. Absence of free choice was there – always had been there – when peer pressure was at play, or societal expectations were in place (such as university students having to volunteer if they stood a chance of getting a job on graduation). Volunteering didn’t suffer.

What suffered was the emerging profession of volunteer managers. They drew the boundaries of what was acceptable for their members to manage so tightly that it reduced their credibility to speak out on anything other than ‘pure’ volunteering. They saw volunteering as something that wouldn’t change. When it did they realised they needed to as well. It had been a close run thing for a time with the profession almost dying before it had begun, strangled by its own restrictions. But thankfully things changed.

And so things got off to a rocky start. But the biggest challenge came in the late 20’s.

With hindsight, they should have seen it coming. The same thing had affected fundraising in the 00’s and 10’s. And Volunteering England (as they were back then) had done that work on Volunteer Rights. Yes, the warning signs were there but hadn’t been spotted.

Katherine shuddered as she remembered one of the toughest times of her career.

As the professional of volunteer management had become more established and high profile so the expectations volunteers had of their managers and the organisations they gave time to had grown. More people were giving time, volunteering was more high profile and socially acceptable and those who volunteered demanded the same levels of professionalism from Volunteer Managers that they demanded from doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professions. And when they didn’t get it, they complained.

As the AVMP became more established the complaints increased and increased.

Soon others started to take notice. The media, always on the look out for a negative story, started to run pieces on volunteers who felt let down or poorly by Volunteer Managers and Volunteer Involving Organisations, whether members of the new profession or not (that distinction didn’t matter to the person on the Clapham Omnibus). First it was just consumer watchdog stuff but then the mainstream media picked it up. Newspapers ran negative stories about Volunteer Managers just like they had when the public got frustrated with fundraisers a decade beforehand.

Then the politicians got involved. AVMP staff and board members were called to parliament to explain to MPs why so many volunteers felt poorly treated. AVMP was told to get its house in order. Self-regulation was demanded with the threat of statutory regulation if that didn’t work. Politicians weren’t about to let so many of their constituents feel so frustrated and see nothing done by those they’d put in power.

Whereas fundraising had taken a decade or so to get self-regulation working properly, politicians expected Volunteer Managers to get it sorted in much less time. After all, Volunteer Managers and fundraisers were all in the same sector so they must talk to each other right? Wrong as it turned out. So for a while it had been a close run thing with AVMP frantically trying to play catch up with fundraising colleagues and put in place a scheme of self-regulation before the statutory regulation deadline. They made it, just. It wasn’t perfect and tweaks had to be made of course.

They’d been dark days. The public had turned against Volunteer Managers. Politicians had turned against Volunteer Managers. Many Volunteer Managers turned against AVMP, claiming that all the work to professionalise the field had demonised it instead. That had been another seed that had led to the Association of Managers of Volunteers which still caused tensions to this day.

“Ladies and gentleman, it’s time for our keynote speaker…”

The organiser of the network meeting had started her introduction and it brought Katherine round from her reminiscences. As the introduction finished she got to her feet and walked the few steps to the the podium, ready to share her takes on the lessons of the past.

Katherine’s last thought before she spoke was that she wished she’d know in 2015 what she knew now.


This blog was originally posted here:
http://robjacksonconsulting.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/unintended-consequences.html

Is our destination clear?

In the last few months there has been a growing sense of movement and action by the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM).

Since their last conference in October 2013 AVM has been gathering a head of steam with a new board, new website, regular email newsletters and a more concerted effort to engage with its members. This has resulted in a growing membership and more recently the start of efforts to develop a code of practice for volunteer management. This latter step is significant as it heralds a move by AVM to not just advocate for and support Volunteer Managers but to also establish volunteer management as a recognised profession.

AVM board member Patrick Daniels, writing in a personal capacity, is writing a series of blogs to try and unpick exactly what a profession is. Please do take a look and engage in discussion with Patrick because this debate is key to shaping the future direction of both AVM and the work of Volunteer Managers.

I am wholly supportive of AVM’s efforts to move the debate forward and to try and secure more status and respect for Volunteer Managers but here I want to take a step back and look at two questions that I don’t think get enough attention yet to me are fundamental to the debate.

First, what do we want to gain from Volunteer Management becoming a profession?

All the debate I’ve seen in the last 20 years seems to take it for granted that becoming a profession will achieve something but there doesn’t ever seem to be any serious debate had or consensus reached as to what exactly ‘something’ is.

Do we want more money?

Do we want more credibility? If so, who with? HR? CEOs? Boards? Managers? Staff? Volunteers? The public?

Do we want to be held in higher regard? By whom?

Do we want to be better understood? By whom?

Do we want something else? What? Why?

When we can answer these questions honestly and have some agreement upon them then we will be in a much better place to assess whether the typical steps to becoming a profession that Patrick so clearly lays out will actually achieve the something we want.

Oh, and by the way, when I say “we can answer” and “we can agree” who exactly is we? Members of AVM? The 200,000 Volunteer Managers estimated in the UK? Paid Volunteer Managers? Voluntary Volunteer Managers? A majority? People who manage volunteers but aren’t and wouldn’t consider themselves to be Volunteer Managers?

Second, given the current work by AVM to seek to establish a code of practice for volunteer management as the first step towards becoming a profession (discussions started with members at last autumn’s conference), what exactly is the good – or should that be best? – volunteer management practice that we want to codify?

I’ve asked this question before on discussion groups like UKVPMs and my experience is that people really struggle to answer it. We have things like Investing in Volunteers (IiV) which assess an organisations competence to involve volunteers and we have National Occupation Standards which lay out what basic good practice is (although the NOS are far from ideal, mainly just codifying the process management aspects of Volunteer Managers role) but I don’t believe we have a consensus at all on what makes someone a good volunteer manager.

What do they do?

What approach do they bring?

How do they conduct themselves?

What difference is there between someone who is competent, someone who is good and someone who is outstanding?

If we (and refer back to my earlier point about what exactly ‘we’ means) in the role of Volunteer Managers cannot say what makes us good at our jobs then how can we start to codify that into a set of standards and principles that would apply universally across our diverse field so as to set a robust benchmark for professional standards?

Let me say again, this is not a criticism of AVM. I support and welcome their work. They are great people doing good stuff for Volunteer Managers. What I want to do with this post is help us all think a little harder about why we might be setting off down a particular road and whether the effort we expend in doing so will bring us to the destination we desire.

In a future blog I want to explore some of the potential unintended consequences of Volunteer Management becoming a profession but for now I’d love to hear what you think about what I’ve posted today. Please add your views with a comment below.


 

This post was originally posted here:

http://robjacksonconsulting.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/is-our-destination-clear.html

 

The Case for a Code

A code of practice for professionals in volunteer management

professional_avm_image_case

Volunteering has come a long way. The understanding of the valuable role volunteering plays and its contribution to building communities is now part of the political mainstream. It’s become a firm fixture in the rhetoric of public figures from princes to prime ministers and has featured on the policy agenda of successive governments.

The nascent role of volunteer management has been a key driver in the greater recognition and impact of volunteering. However, this role is not well understood and too often public discourse on volunteering makes little reference to volunteer management. The knowledge and scope of what’s required for successful volunteer engagement remains one of our sector’s best kept secrets.

Volunteer management as a profession

Research repeatedly indicates that there are a growing number of people, both paid and unpaid, across public, private and voluntary sectors, helping to cultivate this recent blossoming of volunteering. What we do goes beyond simply having a job, carrying out a function or fulfilling a contract. We are professionals and should be recognised as such.

Evidence points to a growth in those taking a professional approach to volunteer management whether as managers, leaders or involved in its development. The support and interest in the Association of Volunteer Managers since its inception in 2007 is just one indicator of this trend.

Building a new profession

We believe there is a growing appetite to build a new profession in volunteer management.

As professionals in volunteer management we’re faced with complex situations that require our specialist and expert knowledge. This knowledge is gained through reflection on our own practice and learning from others with similar experiences.

If we are to apply that knowledge, we require autonomy – we need to be able to come to our own judgement independent of other professions and disciplines.

However, with professional autonomy comes responsibility and accountability. To support professionals with that responsibility, the profession of volunteer management needs, collectively, to develop its very own set of professional values – a code of practice.

The need for a code of practice

What’s needed is a code that inspires each professional’s ongoing performance and practice to improve and develop.

Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) would like to propose to members that we take forward our profession and agree together a code of practice for professionals in volunteer management.

This code of practice in volunteer management should:

  1. provide a framework that guides the core practice of professionals in volunteer management
  2. encourage active reflection among professionals in volunteer management on the wider implications and impacts of their work
  3. inform the practice of others who work in association with professionals in volunteer management
  4. support constructive communication between professionals in volunteer management and the public on complex and challenging issues in volunteering
  5. raise the standards of practice by ensuring the integrity of members and thereby raise the public’s trust in what we do

Join us

If you’d like to get involved, please join AVM to get updates and take part in workshops and discussion in the coming months.

If you are a member and would like to get involved, please get in touch or find further details on our LinkedIn group.

Help to Work

The Association of Volunteer Managers advises its members to think very seriously before getting involved with the new Community Work Placements (CWP) or the Mandatory Intervention Regime (MIR) as part of Help to Work.

The CWP is a mandatory work placement scheme that unemployed people will be forced to take up and complete (at 30 hours per week for six months) to avoid losing their benefits. Any charities signing up to the scheme should be very clearly aware that this is not volunteering and that volunteer management practices will not necessarily be applicable.

Organisations will have to understand that they will be required to report a claimant’s non-attendance or poor performance, and that this could result in their loss of benefit.

Volunteers support us with their skills, effort and time because they want to and so a level of willing support for the cause can reasonably be assumed, which will clearly not be the case with CWP.

Whatever views we may have of the principles behind this change to the welfare system, it is worth noting that the government do not refer to it as volunteering. It is the media who have used that word in their reports and have made the situation appear worse than it is.

Organisations primarily concerned with the welfare of the most vulnerable people in society must be especially careful as the potential for reputational damage is significant.

AVM Board of Directors

 



Background

Government announcement: Help to Work: nationwide drive to help the long-term unemployed into work (30th April 2014)