Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 29 Nov 2014 01:49:41 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at dave p I registered with my local volunteer bureau (Wandsworth, London) for an eventual placement. It wasn't until four months later that I received a response, inviting me to a preliminary interview. When I arrived (having walked four miles) I was told that the person I was to see was off sick. So I got to walk another four miles back, with only a completely wasted day to show for it. Now I can understand staff illness messing things up. But after the four-month wait without even any acknowledgement, it was the final straw. I just gave up there and then. If this is how the system works, it isn't working. Re the prospective volunteer threatened with withdrawal of benefit: this sounds extremely dodgy to me, no least since agencies and charities don't want unwilling workers. A forced volunteer isn't really a volunteer, and forced labour tends to be cheap but unproductive. It sounds to me like the benefit office concerned was in the wrong: this isn't meant to happen, and the voluntary sector wouldn't be impressed. One thing I did discover is that charities increasingly seem to want an impressive CV and references before a placement. For many out of work, having those would make them less likely to be volunteering. For others, it's bad enough having referees bombarded with enquiries from prospective employers without having to risk stretching their goodwill even further with demands relating to unpaid work. I'm not impressed by any of it. It's bad enough the DWP using volunteering as a proxy for workfare without the agencies concerned making it as hard to get as paid employment. As for getting a job out of it, I'd say forget it: the charity sector's awash with attractive idealistic middle-class folk who're way ahead of you in line for any goodies. And private employers are barely reduced to examining skill transferability in their efforts to fill posts. If the authorities were serious about encouraging volunteering as an alternative to inactivity, they'd be encouraging genuine bottom-up community initiatives rather than slopping out claimants to any outfit that fancies a cheap solution to a staffing shortfall. I've spent many years volunteering in the past, with mixed results. I won't be doing it this time round - unless of course I'm "volunteered" by a system that can't come up with anything better. Mon 23 Mar 2009 12:24:39 GMT+1 David_McNickle R 11, You wouldn't get much archaeology done without volunteers. Sat 21 Mar 2009 16:23:05 GMT+1 Robertglyn Volunteering kills the potential for salaried jobs. Charities end up as charities because Government will not fund them properly because it knows that people are prepared to volunteer free of charge.Local goverment Police Health service etc. all have their volunteers inadvertantly helping to undermine the salaries terms and conditions of those in employment.In my experience the work of volunteers is rarely regarded as highly as that of paid staff for obvious reasons.Volunteering is likely to furnish more job losses and in this respect volunteers are their own worst enemy.What is needed is a campaign for more salaried jobs in the public sector. The government found the cash quite readily for the banks I see no reason why the Government should not do the same to help the unemployed.The message is clear if unemployed don't volunteer, instead insist on jobs with salaries and help to counteract the trend for further unemployment.Robert Davis. Sat 21 Mar 2009 14:50:39 GMT+1 unclesocial When I completed my degree I sought work for about 18 months before returning to University. During this time I applied for about 600 to 700 jobs. However, to keep my mind occupied I also took up voluntary work with my local Citizens Advice Bureau. Although I only had to commit myself to 1 day a week I ended up doing 3 days a week there and took up the opportunity to use their facilities (with their permisson) to search for employment. The experience I gained there was invaluable. Not only did I learn about the law and consumer advice I learnt how to communicate with people, deal with agencies and employers and the court system and to build networks for myself. I mentioned this work to the Benefits agency in case they had to contact me with a job offer, but alas they never called. They did, however, have the temerity to ask me once if I was seeking work and if I had evidence to prove that I was. When I asked them to visit my home to inspect my efforts they politely refused. I was not asked again. I really understand how that woman feels about being out of work. I was desperate but refused to give in. My suggestion to her is to keep going, something will turn up soon and paople will respect your efforts. Thu 19 Mar 2009 21:14:45 GMT+1 funnyJoedunn On volunteering to work in a charity shop, I encountered people who had been sent there to work under threat of losing their meagre benefits. They had no incentive, didn't want to be there, realised they were being used as political pawns to make numbers look good. They had no interest in the work and couldn't understand the pint of being there. Frankly, I didn't blame them. The shop manager stopped recruiting volunteers from the job-center pool.What people need is PROPER jobs with a LIVING wage. If they ain't there, its no use fooling yourself.However, I do believe voluntary work should be part of nearly every-one's experience. But, it should be genuine voluntary work and not a substitute for the real thing or to get governments off the hook.So there! Thu 19 Mar 2009 17:58:35 GMT+1 David_McNickle Most of my work in archaeology was as a volunteer and I learned quite a lot. Thu 19 Mar 2009 17:00:55 GMT+1 Gabrieltheangel I work in the central volunteering team at The National Trust and we are experiencing a surge in the number of people interested in volunteering with us. In Feb 08 we had 13,000 people search on our website for volunteering information, this Feb the figure was 21,000. Our current volunteers tell us that two of the particular benefits of volunteering with us are: 1. The opportunity to meet new people. Lots of our volunteers started volunteering with us having moved to a new area, lost a loved one or on finding themselves unemployed.2. The chances available to carry on using existing skills (often in a very different environment) or to learn new ones. The majority of our properties would be keen to hear from anyone interested in volunteering whether that is welcoming volunteers or getting involved in conservation activities such as dry stone walling or path maintenance or sharing more specialist skills. We cover your travel expenses, as do most volunteer involving organisations, so you shouldn't be out of pocket from volunteering.In relation to The Intermittent Horse's query 'Could or should we contemplate redundancies and take someone on for free?' the simple answer is no. Volunteers play a unique role within any organisation, they are not a simple substitute for staff; it is also important to note that involving volunteers isn't free. Expenses need to be paid, training provided and support given and you need staff in place who can manage volunteers. Volunteering is, at it's heart, flexible, informal and freely entered into. It should always be mutally beneficial i.e. both the volunteer and the organisation gain from the relationship. Volunteers add real value to the work of our organisation - they bring a huge range of skills, experiences and interests that don't always exist within a staff team. They also act as a vital link into the wider community and the fact that someone is giving up their time for free to support us is a great way of encouraging others to join in with our work. Thu 19 Mar 2009 16:25:23 GMT+1 lordBeddGelert Cancer Research UK have a very good approach to 'volunteer management'. I agree that there are some snags with volunteering on the financial side - but I didn't have to worry about such things when I did a stint with them, and they were very friendly. Volunteering with colleges / unis is also an option when they are trying to reach out to disabled / faith / less well qualified people. I agree though that some of the smaller charities are not as well 'geared up' to take on volunteers - looking at it from their point of view there is an overhead to training up volunteers before they can provide a benefit for the charity. Thu 19 Mar 2009 15:39:48 GMT+1 steelpulse I thought about volunteering and was occasionally asked specifically if it were an option.I never did though. Which is sad. Good news though Carolyn. I "volunteered" to rub my eyes in disbelief.My eyes do need serious testing for contact lenses but I was reminded of that old poem about a man who saw X but when he looked again - he saw Y.I thought I saw the word "non nuclear" just now but rubbed my tired eyes and saw "tranquil run" instead. Thank goodness methinks. Unless I was right the first time. Does the Peace Corp have a Volunteer section are they ALL volunteers? lol Thu 19 Mar 2009 14:51:12 GMT+1 Decembermum I have been volunteering for the NCT, the UK's largest parenting charity, for the last 12 years, serving on both my local branch and regional committees. I have met so many wonderful people through my volunteer work and membership of this organisation. In a roundabout way my volunteering has led to me getting a job as I am currently studying for a DipHE in Antenatal Education and am looking forward to helping couples through their journey to parenthood. Thu 19 Mar 2009 13:35:04 GMT+1 Lady_Sue Horse: that's a thorny one. Is there any chance the volunteer could be given the task of hunting out some potential new business for the company? Thu 19 Mar 2009 13:34:09 GMT+1 U12196018 I had an inquiry yesterday on behalf of someone who wants to come into our office on a 13-week placement - totally unpaid. It seems that he has to find a suitable 'voluntary' position for this period or he will lose his entitlement to benefit. It is a difficult call as our business, allied as it is to the construction trade, is reasonably quiet at present and redundancies in the coming months can't be discounted. Could or should we contemplate redundancies and take someone on for free? Thu 19 Mar 2009 12:43:11 GMT+1 Lady_Sue Volunteering as a "foot in the door to a job" probably isn't going to work in the current climate. Besides which, it doesn't pay the bills and can add to them with eg. transport costs.What a great girl she is. Keep us posted with her job hunting progress. Is there a BBC Office in Watford? Thu 19 Mar 2009 12:04:31 GMT+1