'Give more support to volunteers,' Government told

Volunteering England is calling on the Department of Communities and Local Government to provide more direct support for volunteers and to use the words 'volunteering' and 'volunteers' more frequently in its literature.

The call came in the volunteering development organisation’s response to the department’s discussion paper on its third sector strategy, consultation on which ended last Thursday.

Volunteering England says the department does not give enough recognition to the contribution volunteers make to building communities and focused too much on bodies that are “one, two or even three steps removed”, such as community development workers, infrastructure organisations, networks of organisations, the third sector and government bodies.

The response document reads: “At the grass-roots level, the work of creating bonding, bridging and linking social capital is carried out not by hidden hands but mainly by volunteers. In the DCLG’s approach to community cohesion, volunteering and volunteers are the proverbial ‘elephants in the room’.”

The report calls on the department to provide more generic support of volunteering, such as funding volunteer centres. It also demands “explicit and consistent” use of the words “volunteer” and “volunteering” in DCLG literature.

“Lack of terminological clarity – and the use of a series of coy synonyms – is confusing and counter-productive”, it reads.

The department said it would consider Volunteering England’s submission along with those of everyone else ahead of publishing its final strategy document by the end of the year.

A spokeswoman for the department said: “Some of the points raised illustrate why we are having such a wide-ranging review.”

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