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
Government announcement: Help to Work: nationwide drive to help the long-term unemployed into work (30th April 2014)
Archive: blog post by a former AVM Board member