Scepticism over plan for volunteer brokerage code

Unnecessary and bureaucratic, volunteer centres say

Volunteer centre managers have criticised a call by conservation charity BTCV for a debate on a national industry standard for volunteer brokerage.

Last month, Miles Sibley, development director at BTCV, said that existing quality accreditations were voluntary and charities should debate the need for a coherent sector-wide standard.

He said the new code could include guidelines on the cost of brokerage, how far brokers should be obliged to inspect the workplaces that volunteers go to and the role of brokers in advising volunteers about their entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance.

But volunteer centres have criticised the proposal as unnecessary and too bureaucratic.

Jeanette Harley, executive director of the Three Rivers volunteer centre in Hertfordshire, told Third Sector that the suggestion missed the point.

"Brokerage is about matching volunteers with placements," she said. "We shouldn't be in charge of assessing the quality of the volunteering organisation."

She said funders were not interested in codes of practice and did not see value in the existing Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation, which was set up by Volunteering England.

Phil Davies, development officer at 2D volunteer centre in County Durham, said: "There are so many standards already and volunteer centres have to pay to sign up to them. How many more will we have to sign up to?"

Simon Richards, head of infrastructure development at Volunteering England, said it was more important to strengthen the existing support for volunteer brokers than to set up a new standard.

Sibley said he welcomed a debate on the issue but the idea was not part of BTCV's strategy and the charity would not be pushing for a new code.

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