Information gap for volunteers

Almost 80 per cent of volunteers are not interviewed or given descriptions of their roles before they start, according to a new study commissioned by the Office of the Third Sector.

The survey, which was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Volunteering Research, says that 66 per cent of volunteers hear about their positions through word of mouth and only 7 per cent have all their expenses reimbursed (Third Sector Online, 6 September).

Education, religion and sport are the most popular causes to volunteer for and most volunteers are involved in finance or charity events, the survey shows.

Volunteering experts said charities could benefit by providing inductions for volunteers. Debbie Usiskin, co-founder of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said: "Volunteers need to know what they are there for and should always be reimbursed expenses. Some organisations seem to think the whole thing is free."

Is Szoneberg, director of full-time volunteering at volunteering charity CSV, agreed. "Interviews are a useful opportunity to get to know volunteers and match them with the right roles," she said. "Charities could also make greater use of websites to promote volunteering, but word of mouth is still the most effective way."

A spokeswoman for youth volunteering charity v said: "With the Government encouraging young people to get involved in civic life, it is vital to ensure financial barriers to volunteering are removed."

Other findings

- 79 per cent of volunteers do not receive any training

- 51 per cent do not know volunteering can lead to qualifications

- 77 per cent do not get any expenses reimbursed

- 82 per cent have not been subject to Criminal Records Bureau checks.

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