A lot of understandable concern surrounds volunteering, particularly related to the potential for exploitation and particularly related to concerns about compulsion in the context of welfare reform.
It's important that volunteers in any context, not just those supporting digital inclusion, are not subjected to exploitation or compulsion and that both parties enter into an arrangement in which both sides benefit.
The following principles are based on discussions leading to a new proposed draft Volunteering Charter in Glasgow:
- Freedom and Choice – everyone should be free to choose to volunteer their time, energy and skills for the benefit of their community – without compulsion and without any unreasonable restrictions.
- Mutual benefit – every opportunity advertised should identify how people will benefit from their participation in volunteering, and how their role will contribute both to the organisation and to wider community social objectives.
- Volunteering and Paid Employment – volunteering opportunities need not – and should not – detract from efforts to increase employment opportunities. In designing and developing appropriate volunteering opportunities in the context of policies such as public service reform and community empowerment, a clear set of values and principles including those contained in the 2010 joint STUC/Volunteer Scotland “Charter for Strengthening Relations Between Paid Staff and Volunteers” should be deployed.
- Inclusion – volunteer involving organisations should actively seek to make opportunities as accessible as possible, and should monitor the diversity of their volunteers.
- Out of pocket expenses – people should not be financially disadvantaged by volunteering.
- Collaboration – both volunteers and paid staff should contribute to development of volunteering policies and procedures, co-designing and production of new roles and opportunities
- Appropriate resourcing – support, training, personal development, inclusion, and recognition for volunteers should be planned and budgeted for.
- Support – volunteers should be provided with support appropriate to their role and needs.
- Quality – organisations should develop volunteer management processes and practice that support a positive, high quality experience.
- Healthy Environment – volunteers have a right to a safe, secure and healthy environment, free from harassment and discrimination; and to a clear mechanism for the resolution of any concerns/disputes.
- Recognition – the contribution of volunteers and the value they bring to communities and services should be publicly recognised and celebrated.