James Purnell – long term unemployed and volunteering

James Purnell issued a ministerial statement on Monday on the government's plans to get people who are long term unemployed back into work. Unsurprisingly volunteering is mentioned but, at least the way I read it, he seems to have made the assumption that most volunteering will be full time. 

Obviously this is far from true, very few people volunteering are doing so full time.  I've come up against this assumption a couple of times with governmenty peeps, and I'm wondering what effect this has on government plans around volunteering?  Do they see the CSV full time model as the norm, and is effecting their plans and strategies?

Liam Byrne expands (slightly!) on the scheme Purnell mentions. It's right at the end again!

2 thoughts on “James Purnell – long term unemployed and volunteering

  1. From Liam Byrnes comments: ‘A new full-time structured vocational volunteering programme is being created, with places reserved for those not in education, employment or training: We are supporting the charity to deliver volunteering opportunities that offer a clear route to gaining skills and employment. The 33 local authorities that have been selected to deliver this full-time programme will deliver 30 placements’

    It would be interesting to know if the people filling these vacancies would be included in the unemployment figures (though if my maths are correct and 30 placements = 30 people, this would only create 990 placements.

    It would also be interesting to know if these people would still be eligible to claim unemployment benefit given that if they are volunteering full time, how could they have time to actively find work?

    Entering that grey area of what constitutes a voluntary role and what should be a paid role, would not a full time voluntary role perhaps indicate that the role should actually be a paid role? What would be the effects on the charity’s services if that role was suddenly vacated?

    To me this is another example of Government misunderstanding volunteering and misusing volunteering for political ends. Gaining and developing skills, helping with social mobility, building self-confidence which would also help to gaining employment etc can be gain through volunteering, however, that is not the primary objective of volunteering. I could bang on about better funding and support of volunteer management instead of ‘initiatives to be seen to be doing something’ is a better use of funds however I guess I’d be preaching to the converted.

  2. Hi Liam

    I would love to hear more about program that is being created so if you could post some information that would be great. I work as the business devemlopment manager for a leading charity within full time volunteering and would be happy to answer some of your questions if you would like to contact me directly.

    To answer a couple it is my understanding that volunteering full time and benefits is a tricky area as it is possible for people to claim as long as they are not in receipt of any allowances through the placement. They are able to be actively seeking work as they need to explain to the placement (and it must be agreed) that they may need to be given time to attend interviews if necessary. However, as most full time placements do offer a living allowance and some have a food allowance and accomodation it does void their rights to claim certain benefits.

    The grey area you describe regarding full time placements being potentially paid roles is also tricky but not a grey as you may think. A full time volunteering role must be additional to paid staff and must not be vital to the operation of that organisation or individual which accepts them. i.e. we can not set up placements where the role could not be fulfilled should a volunteer not be there. They are added value roles which free up staff members to do other things. In terms of individuals having volunteers within their homes this should be in addition to an existing care or support package provided by social or community services or family members.

    full time volunteering is an amazing force for change and needs to be embraced and championed a lot more than it currently is.

    If you would like to contact me directly i’m on gregtythe@hotmail.com

    Best wishes


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