Volunteering ombudsman 'unnecessary'

Boost management training instead, says Association of Volunteer Managers

Government money should be spent on improving the capacity of volunteer managers rather than establishing a volunteering ombudsman, according to the Association of Volunteer Managers.

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the association, was responding to a debate in the House of Lords in which peers discussed the possibility of setting up an ombudsman to help settle employment disputes involving volunteers (Third Sector Online, 9 March).

She said that increasing the number and efficiency of volunteer managers would be an effective way of preventing problems from arising in the first place.

"It would be foolhardy to invest government money in setting up a volunteering ombudsman," said Usiskin. "An ombudsman would not be necessary if measures were taken to ensure that volunteer managers knew about good management practice, were given access to regular training and support facilities and were aware of the rights of their volunteers."

Calls for an ombudsman to deal with such disputes began after 28 volunteer advisers walked out of York Citizens Advice Bureau after the ‘sacking' of a fellow volunteer last year (Third Sector Online, 30 July).

The possibility of a volunteering ombudsman was considered by peers in the House of Lords as an alternative to making employment legislation apply to volunteers.

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