IPPR calls for payments or credits to enable low paid to volunteer
Published on 10 September 2002, by howardlake
Volunteering is still too often a luxury enjoyed by those who can afford to take time out of work according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).
A new report by the ippr launched today argues that many people on low incomes are unable to reap the benefits that volunteering can bring. To enable a wider range of social groups to participate payments or credits for community work should be used more widely.
ippr Research Fellow Will Paxton said: "We are not saying that all volunteering should be paid. However, it shouldn't always be seen as a financially unrewarded activity. In many instances we want to see innovative thinking about the use of credits, and possibly even direct financial payments to enable people from all financial backgrounds to experience the personal development benefits of volunteering.
"A more innovative approach to rewarding volunteering would also help the government to achieve their goal of wider civic renewal. Although many charities already pay volunteers' expenses, more substantial recompense is required to attract the hardest-to-reach groups. Volunteering will only become a genuinely inclusive and empowering activity if we challenge the traditional perceptions of it as necessarily unpaid."
The report Any volunteers for the good society? Volunteering and civic renewal contains a foreward by the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP in which he backs the importance of volunteering.
The report's recommendations include:
greater secured funding for existing volunteering infrastructure and for the expansion of locally administered funds, such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit's Community Chest and community foundations, rather than big spending on 'dragnet' style recruitment drives.
honoraria payments for volunteers helping to turn their area around in local regeneration efforts like those sitting on Local Strategic Partnerships.
introduction of a US-style 'Work-Study' programme whereby access to higher education is promoted by financial aid for students prepared to work in important community and voluntary sector positions. One specific option under such a scheme would be for students to receive financial aid in return for working as teaching assistants.
an Experience Year programme offering financial aid for students in higher and further education willing to spend a gap year undertaking community service.
financial credits for voluntary activity undertaken to contribute towards assets accumulated through new policies intended to encourage saving.
expansion of time-bank schemes, which offer credits in the form of future services for those who volunteer in their community.