Charles Kenyon's Country Diary: Pale, male and proud of our voluntary work

Please can you stop insulting those of us who have given our time freely for decades

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

Four of us sit in the old post office, now a café. We are feeling hard done by. There is an article in a paper on the next table calling us trustees stale male and pale. It’s lazy journalism and easy copy.

Our day jobs are electrician, vicar, farmer and landlord. Three are pensioners. Our years of voluntary jobs, counting them sequentially, match at least our ages. We have been parish councillors, school governors, special constables, trustees and volunteers for housing, homeless, rural stress, family, theatre, history, church and prison charities.

There used to be nothing unusual about these activities and no one would mention them – it would be showing off. But now we are challenged (not by our beneficiaries, though): why are we male, white and, especially, old?

The raft of legislation, the ease of litigation and the personal cost makes us look mugs to an increasing number of our peers. Well, we do it because we always have, as did our parents before us, though we wonder who is going to take over from us. Our own next generations are far savvier.

Then one of us has a good idea. Give pension credits to people who complete a number of years of voluntary activity. This would increase public recognition and help less well-off people who want to be part of the big society (is that still going?) but can’t afford to be. All of us would be delighted to hand over to a younger, more diverse community. But until we can, please stop insulting us.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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