Why volunteers will be 'trainees'

Indira Das-Gupta

A woodland conservation charity has converted all its volunteers into trainees, claiming that this is the only way it can get funding.

Sue Blacker, director of Silvanus Trust, said funding from conservation grant-giving bodies had dried up and the only available funding was through schemes such as the New Deal or Job Centre Plus, which require a charity to offer training.

However, Blacker said the change also had benefits. She explained: "In this way, our volunteers get something back too - a qualification that they can use to find employment."

The charity's decision was influenced by the rising cost of using volunteers.

Blacker added: "Previously we would use volunteer leaders, but now the only way to get insurance is to hire someone who has the proper qualifications and so has to be paid a certain wage. Were it not for BTCV, which registers other organisations' volunteering activities as groups affiliated to them, none of us in this field would be able to obtain insurance."

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