BTCV urges debate on volunteer brokerage

Lack of sector-wide code of practice is causing confusion, says conservation charity

Conservation charity BTCV has called for a debate on the desirability of a national code to define an industry standard for volunteer brokerage.

Miles Sibley, development director at the charity, said brokerage had been an area of growth over the past few years and a range of codes and quality accreditations existed.

But he said adherence to most of these was voluntary and there was no sector-wide standard. Organisations involved in volunteer brokerage, including BTCV, CSV and volunteer centres, should debate whether a code would be useful, he said.

Sibley said a code could include guidelines on the cost of brokerage and the extent to which brokers should be obliged to inspect the workplaces volunteers go to. It could also provide quality assurance and clarify the role of brokers in advising volunteers about their entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance and providing local discussion networks.

The standard would be effective if it was branded and marketed in a similar way to the Investors in People standard, said Sibley.

"It would need to be a badge that brokerage organisations would want to wear and would be embarrassed not to have," he said. "Alternatively, the code could be embedded in the procurement process, so that organisations were obliged to meet its standards to fulfil contracts with the Government and local authorities."

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said he would welcome a debate on the issue. But he said the wide range of brokerage activities meant it could be difficult to implement a standardised system and it would need to be carefully planned to avoid extra bureaucracy.

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