Volunteering in The Big Society

This is something I know a little about.  What I know is that volunteering is a bit of a double-edged sword.  There is a culture of fear amongst paid staff who work alongside volunteers that their jobs will ultimately be lost to those who do their work for nothing.  This often results in difficult working conditions with volunteers feeling distinctly frozen out and paid staff directing their resentments towards the volunteers.  Those who volunteer may be desperate for paid employment but are, for whatever reason, unable to even get interviews for advertised vacancies.  This in turn results in resentment directed against paid staff whom they feel, do the same work as they do but receive recognition and remuneration for it.  Volunteers are often in their later years and so the chances of their getting any kind of work is slim.  If they didn’t volunteer, they would have no reason to get up in the morning and their lives would be meaningless. It’s a sad state of affairs.  Perhaps, there are systems that could be put in place ensuring that when paid work is available, volunteers would be guaranteed an interview.  Then they would feel that if they didn’t get the job, they had at least been given a shot at it.

There is a suspicion amongst volunteers that once they adopt that role, they will never be seen as potential paid staff… after all, why would an employer pay you if he knew you would work for nothing anyway?

Answers on a postcard please…

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