I enjoyed writing this article because, after what seems like ages, I once again get to question Government plans for volunteering.
I’m not being party political. All the parties get plenty wrong on volunteering. Some even get some things right, sometimes. It’s just that I used to enjoy writing articles highlighting the apparent default ignorance of politicians about what makes for successful volunteer engagement.
So, I was eager to put finger to keyboard last week when reports started coming through in The Huffington Post that the new UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (and deputy Prime Minister), Therese Coffey, had announced a “Call For One Million NHS Volunteers This Winter” (NB. This only applies to the NHS in England). The story then even got a mention on Have I Got News For You!
The Act received royal assent in February of this year. The Act is generally pretty mundane with no areas of real controversy. It is designed to bring in some of the recommendations from the 2017 Law Commission report into charity law that will make things simpler for charities.
Thanks to the Law Commission for highlighting the following documents
The changes brought about by the Act will not take practical effect immediately. We now have to wait for the Charity Commission to set out how it is going to implement the changes, they have published a blog about the process on their website. The upshot being that actual changes will only happen as the commission is able to implement them.
What is in the Act?
The charity commission highlight 5 key changes
charities and trustees will be able to amend their governing documents or Royal Charters more easily – remaining subject to the Commission and the Privy Council’s approval in certain circumstances
charities will have access to a much wider pool of professional advisors on land disposal, and to more straightforward rules on what advice they must receive, which could save them time and money when selling land
charities will have more flexibility to make use of a ‘permanent endowment’ – this is money or property originally meant to be held by a charity forever. This includes a change which will allow trustees to borrow a sum of up to 25% of the value of their permanent endowment funds, without the Commission’s approval
trustees will be able to be paid for goods provided to a charity in certain circumstances, even if not expressly stated in the charity’s governing document (currently trustees can only be paid for supply of services). From pencils to paint, this will allow charities the flexibility to access goods from trustees when it is in the best interests of the charity (e.g. if cheaper), without needing Commission permission
charities will be able to take advantage of simpler and more proportionate rules on failed appeals. For example, if a charity appeal raises too little money, the charity will be able to spend donations below £120 on similar charitable purposes without needing to contact individual donors for permission
The rules about changing governing docs or purposes are mainly about bringing CIO’s and charitable companies in line with each other. This could make it more tricky for non CIO’s but it will mean simply updating purposes without making significant changes will no longer be regulated.
We have no idea when the commission will release guidance and actually make the changes, but Russell Cooke the solicitors have written that they recommend charitable companies wanting to make major changes to purposes do it now before the changes are implemented.
Since returning to work in January, I have spent nine days travelling within the UK, attending conferences, events, trainings and making site visits for a consulting client. These have been the first opportunity to leave home on business since the middle of March 2020. I’ve loved it. But will it continue?
Let’s be clear. Going anywhere for the last two years hasn’t been sensible. The risks to health from Covid-19 have been real and serious.
Selfishly, the impact of the worst effects of long Covid on me would have been disastrous. If I’m too ill to work, I don’t earn my income. The bills go unpaid. No sick pay, no government help. Less selfishly, I would never have lived with myself if I’d been a one-man super-spreader.
But now, with all the progress we’ve made, the return to in-person work is possible. Of course, we are all — individually and…
Hello! My name is Amy and I volunteer with Ellie at CCVS.
Together we work towards promoting volunteering and removing barriers that stop people from getting involved in community projects. Part of this voluntary work also involves writing articles for this blog, which aims to show and share my perspective about volunteering, what it means to me, and most importantly to encourage others to get involved in their community.
I have been doing voluntary work for 8 years in various roles with different groups and organisations and much enjoy what I do, from helping in a charity shop, to organising social events and assisting in Tai Chi classes.
You might wonder why I enjoy helping others and dedicate so much of my time and skills to my community.
Every role I do is very different, but each and every one gives me a chance to make a difference and feel proud of myself.
I recently spoke to a customer at the charity shop where I volunteer on Tuesday mornings, and that got me thinking about what volunteering really means to me. It gives me something productive and useful to do and I usually feel like I’ve done a good job by the end of my shift and feel a great sense of achievement. It’s a flexible commitment, so if I need to change my working hours or day that I work there, then all I have to do is ask and that’s usually fine.
There’s much less pressure involved in volunteering, than in paid work. And, especially after the pandemic, I realise that I’m much happier when I don’t have to stay in one place all the time. I also appreciate being around other people a lot more! I feel the same about all the voluntary work that I do (organising and MC-ing at a night club for people with disabilities and being a class assistant at Tai Chi classes). I get such a buzz out of seeing people enjoying themselves on the dance floor at the Club Nights and literally screaming for more!
Being a volunteer sometimes even means helping and supporting people that you care for and/or your friends or relatives. For example, I used to volunteer on the reception desk at a day service, but a friend who went there as a service user and had issues with anxiety, asked me to come and join in with the activities, because it would help her to feel calmer. I stepped in and supported her to feel more comfortable and make the most of these activities. I felt like I’d empowered her, it was a very rewarding and positive feeling.
I’ve been assisting with Tai Chi classes for 8 years, which involves demonstrating exercises, giving advice and suggestions to the participants, promoting the classes, and Tai Chi generally in the community. I also motivate other people to volunteer. For example, a friend of mine wanted to do voluntary work to keep herself busy and do something useful. I told her about a great class for people with disabilities called Rhythm & Moves, and she came to try it out as a volunteer. We both volunteered there for a year or so. She enjoyed it and got on really well. As a result of volunteering at those sessions, she found out about another opportunity and now she volunteers at a Tai Chi class in Ely.
I believe that an important role of volunteers is to make other people aware of the community projects they are helping with and encourage them to volunteer themselves, firstly to make the projects work better, but secondly because it can be really beneficial for them to get involved.
When COVID-19 changed everything, training in the classroom was replaced by training over Zoom. For me, that transition was a little slow, and not without some hiccups. But after some 16 months of running online workshops, I think that virtual training is here to stay.
The advantages are clear. No need for anyone to travel, no need to hire a room, and as a result, fewer overheads. Also, while COVID-19 is still infecting many thousands every day, there is no risk of spreading the disease at an online event.