Volunteering Tarts Wanted!

What have these questions in common?

Do you feel saying someone is required to volunteer is an oxymoron?

You say you will pay for CRB check on volunteers; could you tell me what price the CRB themselves actually charge for processing a volunteers’ CRB?

You say the people you will send to us are “required” to volunteer for x number of hours per week. How does such a requirement to volunteer, fit in with the ethical and historic values of volunteering?

Could you explain mutuality of obligation in relation to contracting and employment law, in respect of volunteers/volunteering?

Can you explain vicarious liability?

Do you think that volunteers should have a monitory value attached to them, which may encourage organisations to choose those “volunteers” over others without such a value attached, i.e. retired people?

The Answer: What they all have in common is that when asked of the agency promoting themselves and acting as a broker towards volunteers, is that they were unable to answer any of them from a position of knowledge and understanding, and in one or two instances they did not have an answer at all!

To me, this is yet another example of agencies, Ltd companies, seeing the opportunity to make a quick buck, in jumping on the “Big Society” band wagon to the long term detriment of volunteers, and volunteering, and in chasing the money that is attached to getting a “volunteer” into work; rather than fully valuing volunteers, regardless of their individual drivers.

I am somewhat perplexed at the degree of apathy that the voluntary sector and some leading lights within are seemingly showing in respect of this 3rd party paradigm shift.

Equally, the submissive, junior partner collusion with often fly by night, here today gone tomorrow agencies that will no doubt chase the money for as long as it is there, and then move on to the next money making flavour of the month.

We should all be aware and be wary, that when the economy pick ups, and “volunteers” are no longer profitable, such agencies will invariably disappear, bank their cash, and leave us holding the baby, and no doubt a bitter taste in our mouths at the fact we have collectively betrayed traditional volunteers and volunteering, in our eagerness to jump into bed, with who ever comes along with cash, and subsequently tarting ourselves and our profession to the highest bidder, by getting into bed with such schemes

However, this is not the most concerning and disturbing thing in many ways; no what is; is that there are good people out there, often with years of experience of volunteers/volunteering, and who fully understand the established ethics and principles of volunteering, who are progressive and forward thinking, but who are feeling that they are losing their voice, and cannot speak up, because an ever increasing wave of pressure to find people work, and provide volunteer placements act as organs of the state in policing such placements, in order that people are not statiscally seen as being unemployed 

From a longstanding broker

“I am finding it all very disturbing to be honest and just don’t know what volunteering will be like if these agencies etc get their way, everything is going backwards and undoing our good work and also as these agencies have the money   they have the power and will end up shaping volunteering to suit their needs . “

“I feel like my values are being compromised on almost a daily basis and I don’t like the way things are going and feel as an organisation we need to take a stand otherwise it makes it easier for these organisations to hijack volunteering.” 

I am as progressive as the next person, more so in many cases; however there is a point I will not go beyond.

I am not prepared to sell my volunteering soul and tart myself for the King’s Shilling, only to find further down the line, a volunteer wasteland, stripped of its values, principles, and ethics.; and which has lost the ability and is unable to appreciate the value of someone who volunteers simply because they do.

It is good that those who wish to find work can be helped to do so through consensual volunteering, but forced/required volunteering!, NO never, not on my watch!

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