Put volunteering 'on a par with emergency services'

Volunteering should be funded through taxes on a "sustained basis" in the same way as the emergency services, according to CSV in a report submitted to the Commission on the Future of Volunteering.

The volunteering charity also wants to see the introduction of 40-year contracts for volunteering projects and a national youth service.

The commission, which is chaired by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, is an independent body established in 2006 by the England Volunteering Development Council to develop a long-term strategy for volunteering.

CSV’s submission says: “If volunteering is as important as we are told, then it should be funded directly from the taxes citizens pay on a sustained basis alongside ambulance, defence, diplomatic, education, fire, health and police services.”

The report goes on to say: “Volunteers are not commodities to be repackaged. They have a loyalty to those who recruited them and to those they serve. They should not be jeopardised by triennial funding rounds.

“At a time when government is awarding 40-year contracts for services in health and other areas, similar contracts should be offered for the involvement of volunteers, their recruitment, management and training, over similar time periods.”

CSV claims that 86 per cent of young people would take part in a programme of national service if one were offered. It envisages that such a programme could be aimed at 18 to 25-year-olds and deliver projects designed to address some of the “most pressing and civic challenges” in society, such as crime, child abuse and the spread of the deadly hospital bug MRSA.

Other recommendations include factoring in the contribution of volunteers into the UK’s gross domestic product, more volunteering opportunities for families and better recognition and treatment of volunteers.

The reports says: “Organisations and agencies should treat volunteers with at least as much respect as paid staff, not place them at the bottom of communication chains or delay payment of their agreed expenses. Volunteering is not an end in itself, but a huge, expandable and multifaceted resource that services have no right to ignore.”

The Commission on the Future of Volunteering is due to publish its final report in October.

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