Volunteer Scotland backs report that highlights postive link between volunteering and finding paid work
Scotland’s national centre for volunteering has backed a report that claims helping jobless people volunteer in their communities can reduce unemployment.
Volunteer Scotland said the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) report shows evidence that volunteering works to cut joblessness.
The report cites a £2 million Big Lottery Fund-backed pilot projectto get unemployed people back into work by gaining skills and confidence from a volunteering placement.
Recognising that every person can belong and make a difference; that there is voluntary work to do that is uplifting and rewarding is a powerful mix when done well
Under the scheme, co-ordinated by NCVO and delivered by local volunteer centres, unemployed people were supported into volunteering roles with local charities, giving them an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their self-esteem, and make new contacts.
More than one in five participants on the Volunteering for Stronger Communities programme went on to paid work following their participation.
Speaking of the project, George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Scotland, said its strengths were the empathy and quality of support that was provided to the individuals involved.
He added: “These are exceptional findings about how individuals found a sense of purpose, wellbeing and motivations that have made a real positive change in their lives.
“It tells us about the adaptability and creativity of volunteer experiences that can bring about genuine reciprocity between the volunteers, that they are regarded as an asset in their community and feel good about themselves.
“Recognising that every person can belong and make a difference; that there is voluntary work to do that is uplifting and rewarding is a powerful mix when done well.”
Thomson did however warn there is a danger people see volunteering as a surrogate job, as unpaid work and as an alternative to work.
The report, the first in a series from NCVO on how charities and volunteering can help transform public services, also calls for more training for Jobcentre Plus staff.
Our programme shows that local action, appropriately funded, can make a real difference
Its survey of local organisations that support people to volunteer found many Jobcentre Plus staff erroneously tell clients they will lose welfare benefits if they start to volunteer.
Justin Davis Smith, executive director for volunteering at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “While national programmes have struggled to make their mark, our programme, delivered by volunteer centres at the heart of their communities, shows that local action, appropriately funded, can make a real difference.
“Getting back into work can be very tough. Volunteering can help restore confidence, teach new skills and establish a routine – helping people get their foot back on the jobs ladder.”