In times of austerity the work of volunteers is more important than ever says national charity
Volunteering charity CSV has called on the next UK government to treat volunteers with respect and recognise their importance.
The charity hit out following the publication of the main political parties’ election manifestos saying it is concerned about how further austerity will impact on some of society’s most vulnerable members.
Volunteers, it says, play a critical role in helping to promote and sustain the well-being of individuals and communities and should be acknowledged – whatever the outcome of the election.
It wants volunteering to be added to the school curriculum, along with carrying out social action and work experience in order to help young people make a greater contribution to their communities.
Older people to can play a crucial role – but the next government has to work with the sector to identify and help remove the barriers to volunteering faced by many citizens.
Our society faces significant challenges – presented for example by its ageing population, persistently high youth unemployment and increasing health inequalities – set against a backdrop of significant reductions in the capacity of public services.
To do this investment has to be made that reflects its ability to promote and sustain health and well-being and bring communities together.
Duncan Tree, CSV head of policy and performance, said: “Our society faces significant challenges – presented for example by its ageing population, persistently high youth unemployment and increasing health inequalities – set against a backdrop of significant reductions in the capacity of public services.
“These challenges notwithstanding, volunteering remains a proven means of helping to maintain individual and community well-being and promoting social inclusion.”
As well as providing a service for communities and helping all walks of life gain valuable experience, CSV also highlighted the volunteer sector plays a crucial role in social inclusion.
Volunteering helps older people maintain a sense of purpose and self-respect, and lessens the isolation felt by those cut off from social networks.
Younger people’s social networks and physical and mental wellbeing is also improved through volunteering and it gives disabled people the chance to participate in and contribute to their local communities, increasing their confidence, social and employability skills and overall quality of life.
Families are also helped regularly by volunteers to improve their parenting skills, improving the quality of family life and helping to keep children safe, while reducing reliance on social care services.
The Conservative Party has published a plan for three days paid leave to be given to public sector staff who volunteer and the Lib Dems and Labour both want to encourage more young people to volunteer.
Tree added: “Whoever forms the new government, CSV will continue to promote the importance of volunteering and provide quality meaningful volunteering opportunities for people of all backgrounds, abilities and ages across the UK.”