'We need pump-priming to build links with communities'

Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs, the new chair of Volunteering England, tells Kaye Wiggins about her plans to revitalise the organisation

Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs, chair, Volunteering England
Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs, chair, Volunteering England

The new chair of Volunteering England has big plans for the charity. Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs wants to bring a new passion to its campaign for more government funding for volunteer centres, and says getting the cash will be her top priority.

"There needs to be pump-priming at a national level to help volunteer centres build links with local communities" she says.

"Volunteering England is talking to the Office of the Third Sector about this, and it's a campaign I'm going to put a lot of energy into."

Kaur-Stubbs says her role will be as a "critical friend" to the organisation. She says she will revitalise it and help it to develop good relationships in the sector and with the Government.

This means getting involved in making volunteering a more attractive prospect by cutting red tape and giving volunteers rights.

"Volunteers should have job descriptions, terms and conditions, and access to grievance procedures," she says.

She says she isn't sure whether a volunteering ombudsman is the solution to this, and she's wary of creating more bureaucracy. "Over-enthusiastic application of the rules deters people who are otherwise keen to help," she says.

Kaur-Stubbs is no stranger to campaigning, but her latest cause is a change from what she's used to. As chief executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, she turned the organisation into a 'funder plus', which took political action on the issues raised by the groups it supported. This meant lobbying the Government on issues such as asylum seekers' rights. "I'm a big believer in campaigning," she says. "Charities shouldn't just throw money at problems; they should challenge the roots of the issues."

Kaur-Stubbs made an impact at the Barrow Cadbury Trust by rationalising its work: she cut its programmes from nine to three. Will she do the same at Volunteering England? "I'll be reviewing the organisation's strategic objectives and making sure they're right, given the resources available," she says.

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