Home > UK Politics > Do we want to encourage Volunteers and Volunteering?

Do we want to encourage Volunteers and Volunteering?

July 11, 2006

My attention was drawn to the issue of just what those on benefits can or cannot do vis-a-vis volunteering by John Hemmings post. He is concerned about the issue of expenses for those on benefits who are volunteering and specifically the statement that those on benefits “won’t be able to claim for buying lunch” because “the amount of Income Support or Job Seekers allowance you get is already meant to cover the cost of your basic needs including lunch”.

I start off from a very simplistic view of the world in that I believe that volunteering is a good thing. One charity I have been involved with in the past could not deliver anywhere near the level of services it does without the help of all the wonderful volunteers who give up their time. For many volunteers the act of volunteering also has a beneficial impact on their own development at the same time as assisting the charity. I know of volunteers who have developed so far that they have gone on to full time paid employment in the same charity.

So it now appears that if you give a volunteer expenses to cover the cost of their lunch that money will be deducted from their benefits. This is mad given that they may incur additional costs through purchasing lunch where they are volunteering rather than making themselves something at home. Of course charities can presumably get round this by providing food and drink for their volunteers instead of paying expenses but that of course assumes that they have already got the volunteer through the door. Alternatively of course they may have decided not to wade through the 49 page document from the DWP and may have given up on the idea of volunteering completely!!

Categories: UK Politics
  1. Nicola
    July 11, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    I agree that it seems to be totally crazy……… and sounds liek a death nell for many organisations who rely on voluntary help.

  2. Anonymous
    July 16, 2006 at 9:40 am

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  3. Anonymous
    December 10, 2006 at 10:53 am

    This whole train of thought is insane! You’re talking about volunteering and whether or not you should, at least that’s what the title implies. I’ve volunteered in several countries at extreme cost to myself ie. paying ALL costs, relinquishing jobs, donating money to projects, personal wellbeing, etc… I’ve come out well ahead and feel damn lucky for the experience, however, never did the thought reclaiming nickels and dimes cross my mind. If this is a concern or hindrance to volunteering, maybe you should reconsider WHY you are volunteering.
    If you are interested in volunteering for the sake of helping those who can’t help themselves, check out: http://www.worldvolunteers.wordpress.com
    Mike Morris
    Vancouver, Canada

  4. Tony Ferguson
    December 10, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    No not insane at all. I happily volunteer and do loads of stuff for two different charities and would never dream of claiming expenses – I don’t need to do that. I am talking about people who are unemployed and living on the margins already and who still want to fill their time with something useful by volunteering and helping others. These people are being threatened with loss of benefits for the sake of a £3 lunch provided by the charity

    March 1, 2007 at 10:25 am

    I am a kenyan undergoing a community development and a social work course with a mission to work on volunteerism basis .

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