Public think cuts will mean volunteers plugging service gaps, poll suggests

Eighty-six per cent of respondents believe this will happen, says survey on i-volunteer.org.uk

Eighty-six per cent of volunteers and volunteering organisations who responded to a poll believe that volunteers will be used to plug gaps in service provision as a result of impending public sector spending cuts.

A survey of more than 250 people on the website i-volunteer.org.uk asked whether the next government, irrespective of  political persuasion, would expect volunteers to meet gaps left by public spending cuts. Eighty-six per cent responded ‘yes'.

Jamie Thomas, the website's founder, said: "This could be an opportunity for the sector. Over the past decade we've had more funding thrown at us than ever before, so getting back to basics may encourage innovation and independence as we adapt to doing more with less.

"Voluntary action does not always depend on high levels of funding. Most of the best-known brands in the charity sector were started by volunteers who were passionate about a cause and did something about it."

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said: "One of the principles of modern volunteering has always been that volunteers do not replace or duplicate what is done by paid staff. Managing the relationship between volunteers and paid staff can be made more challenging if volunteers are perceived as a threat to job security."

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