How’s this for a classic quote from a Civil Servant?
“When we started this, volunteer and community groups were desperately seeking volunteers. But because of the recession there are more volunteers, and groups are not desperate for them any more.”
He was talking about the implementation of government’s Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Act, which was passed in July,which allows immigrants who have been in the UK for five years to gain citizenship within one further year, rather than three, if they can prove they have been an “active citizen” by volunteering.
The great and good within the volunteering movement are getting very hot under the collar because the act seems to setting people up for compulsory volunteering. Obviously this is a total contradiction in terms, but it’s a contradiction that also seems to apply to unemployed people. Another current national news story shows that the government’s grand plan to get 30,000 unemployed people into volunteering is falling short of its targets. Five months into a two year programme (21% of the time) only 7% of the target number of unemployed people are volunteering.
But if the government’s justification for these targets falling short, or for the slowdown in implementation of the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Act is because volunteer-involving organisations no longer need volunteers because we’re now overwhelmed with them, they are seriously out of touch.
We NEVER encourage volunteer managers to use the phrase “desperate for volunteers”; that would be the biggest turn-off possible to anyone thinking of joining the organisation. We emphasise what great opportunities we offer people, but the fact remains that most of us are not overwhelmed with volunteers, recession or not.
If you want some support in attracting, recruiting, or retaining volunteers, get in touch with the Volunteer Centre. And don’t forget our to book your place on our training / networking session on Making The Most of Volunteers’ Talents