'End the ban on asylum seekers volunteering in the public sector'

Volunteering England chief Justin Davis Smith says the existing regulations 'highlight the stupidity around some of these issues'

Justin Davis Smith
Justin Davis Smith

Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, will ask government officials to remove regulations that prevent asylum seekers from volunteering in the public sector.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat party conference earlier this week, Davis Smith said asylum seekers were permitted to volunteer for charities but could not volunteer in the public sector.

In a discussion about barriers to volunteering, he said: "This anomaly highlights the stupidity around some of these issues.

"Asylum seekers can volunteer to help run a tea service in a hospital, but only if that service is being provided by a charity rather than by staff at the hospital itself. We need to simplify the system a bit."

Davis Smith said the issue was on a list of barriers to volunteering that he would urge the government to address. Others included "overenthusiastic" Criminal Records Bureau checks and jobseekers being told they would lose their benefits if they volunteered, he said.

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