Keep Volunteering Voluntary is a campaign which was launched in April 2014 in response to the implementation of the government's 'Help to Work' programme, which included mandatory 6-month placements in voluntary groups linked to benefit sanctions for non-compliance.
Last week, more than 550 organisations signed up to support the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign. One of the organisations that signed up to the campaign is Revitalise and they have written a brilliant blog about why they feel the campaign is so important.
"We signed up because we passionately believe that voluntary work should remain just that – voluntary.
It seems the charitable sector is being asked to play a part in this by providing Workfare placements for as many as 50,000 unemployed young people aged 18-21. Well I’m sorry, but here at Revitalise Towers we think that’s quite wrong.
For us the reasons are obvious. Voluntary work is, by its very nature, inherently an act of helping others of one’s own free will and, quite frankly, the mere notion of removing the element of choice is worrying in the extreme. If we remove free will from volunteering we will end up in a situation where people no longer connect with us and each other over shared beliefs and aspirations but instead are forced into an ‘I’m doing this because I have to’ kind of relationship.
We’ve done lots of research over the years and we’ve found that our volunteers benefit enormously from their time with us. They come away from the experience more confident, more aware, more willing to play a part in society and with much improved job prospects. And why? It’s very simple – they come us to us because they want to, not because they have to. For charities like Revitalise, this is an absolutely fundamental principle.
That’s why this Volunteers’ Week we’re joining the movement to ensure that volunteering is – and always will – remain voluntary! After all, when the goodwill of your volunteers has gone, what’s left?"