Two thirds of people in the UK feel that volunteers are being used to take the place of paid staff in public services – according to independent ICM research commissioned by the CSV Make a Difference campaign.
Out of the 2,000+ people surveyed, an astonishing 59 per cent felt that volunteers are increasingly sought to undertake the work of paid staff due to reductions in public services.
Two-thirds of all respondents thought volunteers were increasingly sought to undertake the work of paid staff due to cuts to public services.
Almost half of all respondents thought the internet and technology entertainment curtailed young people’s desire to volunteer.
Over half would rather focus on getting paid work than volunteer.
Over half have said they have no time to volunteer.
More young people than older people believe that young people would rather volunteer for the benefit of their CV than to help others.
CSV, the leading volunteering and learning charity, commissioned the research to mark the start of its flagship Make a Difference – Get Inspired campaign which raises awareness about playing an active part in communities through volunteering.
Mina Temple, a CSV volunteer who has supported vulnerable families for a year, and has also previously been a service-manager for the Family Friends charity, understood why people would think that volunteers are being drafted in by organisations who may have insufficient funding.
She said: “In my experience, volunteering as a parent befriender is complementing the work of social services, the difference being that I have no statutory power over the parents’ lives and I am not being paid to visit. My relationship with the parent is an equal and trusting one and I can give more practical and detailed support than a busy social worker.
“I think it’s important that people put aside any preconceived notions about why volunteers are drafted in for certain roles and see how these important workers can make an enormous difference to the lives of service users.”
Alex Linkston, Chairman of NHS Forth Valley, Scotland, and CSV supporter, said: “We are very fortunate to have a wide range of volunteers who assist staff and patients in many different ways. They make an important contribution by providing additional support which enhances but in no way replaces the frontline care delivered by our staff. Volunteers play a very valuable role in local healthcare and we are very grateful for the support we receive.”
Debbie Carter, Head of Service within Social Care and Family Intervention at Coventry City Council, commissioned CSV’s Volunteers Supporting Families project to help families that were struggling to keep their children safe. She said: “When a volunteer gets involved with a family they are definitely in addition to the support provided by other professionals working as part of the core group or team around the family.
“Our experience in Coventry is that the volunteer is very much a valued member of the team working with the family and they are able to take a flexible approach which includes befriending and this certainly compliments the work of the social worker.”
Oonagh Aitken, CSV’s Director of Social Action and Volunteering said: “These results are a little challenging but not insurmountable. Although the general perception is that volunteers are increasingly used to take the place of paid staff, we do not believe there is any concrete evidence to support this whatsoever.
“Our view is that volunteer roles should never, and can never, take the place of paid professional workers who have dedicated their time and commitment to their career in public services. We know that when volunteers operate within a framework of solid volunteer management, quality training and in close partnership with professional staff, they ultimately compliment paid services rather than replace them.”
The Make a Difference campaign which begins on 1 October encourages people to play a part in the heart of their communities through volunteering. To find out more how you can Make a Difference, please visit www.csv.org.uk/difference
Note to editors
This year CSV’s Make a Difference – Get Inspired campaign will be bigger than ever before, and for the first time will take place over the whole month of October allowing people more time to get involved. The mission is to inspire a new generation of volunteers to Get up, get going and get active. Working together with a wide range of partners, CSV hopes to raise the profile of volunteering and inspire 2 million people to ‘get inspired’ to find out about the range of volunteering opportunities in their community.
Over a million volunteers have been involved in Make a Difference since it began in 1996. Last year’s campaign saw the UK's biggest day of volunteering take place with 70,000 people of all ages taking part in over 2,000 events across the country.
CSV (Community Service Volunteers) creates opportunities for people to take an active part in the life of their communities through volunteering, learning and community action. Last year 150,000 people gave their time as volunteers through CSV. The charity trained 5,300 people of all ages. www.csv.org.uk.
For further press information about CSV and Make a Difference, please call 020 7643 1418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colin Mason, CSV volunteer for the Retired and senior Voluntary Programme (RSVP), said: "Our philosophy in CSV-RSVP is that volunteers are never there to replace paid workers. Most of the time volunteers will be working independently, but when they are working alongside paid staff, their role will always be that of support."
Alan Bigham, Volunteering Programme Manager at the Scottish Health Council, actively encourages paid staff to become involved in the design of volunteer roles so that they have ownership of the roles and the boundaries of the roles in their working environment.
He said: “We’re aware NHS paid staff have viewed volunteering with suspicion, and have fears relating to ‘job substitution’ or ‘role-erosion’. But we’ve found no evidence of either of these having taken place.
“We’ve found that engaging with staff opens a dialogue to explore the myths around volunteering and alter negative attitudes. When concerns are addressed and roles in the volunteering programme are clearly defined, staff have felt much more positive about the role of volunteers.”
The Scottish Health Council will soon launch a toolkit to support NHS Boards to use in their discussions with staff so that any concerns can be heard and information provided on the volunteering programmes.