On 17th December Prime Minister David Cameron announced that if elected a Conservative government would place unemployed young people on mandatory volunteering placements.
Volunteer Essex is amongst many charities and community groups up and down the country that recognise that volunteering is and must remain a voluntary activity for people. Volunteering benefits organisations in many ways but a positive volunteering experience is also of benefit to individuals. At Volunteer Essex we hear countless stories of how people have made new friends and generally feel better through their volunteering activities.
Keep Volunteering voluntary is the countrywide campaign recognising the impact of these governmental programmes and decision on the voluntary sector. Over 500 group have signed up to the agreement which states
“As charities and voluntary organisations we know the value of volunteering. Volunteering means people independently choosing to give their time freely to help others and make the world a better place. Workfare schemes force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution. We believe in keeping volunteering voluntary and will not participate in government workfare schemes.”
In light of the 17th December announcement the group in partnership with Greater London Volunteering and the London Council for Voluntary Services have organised a conference in London on the 19th March. It will provide an opportunity to:
- Spread information about the Help to Work Programme and the ways in which it is being rolled out by the DWP, primes and their subcontractors (including testimony from claimants who have been affected);
- Share information and experiences between participants who have had contact with the Programme;
- Gain greater understanding and awareness about the effects of workfare and benefits sanctions;
- Help to decide what further action can be taken.
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