People power


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Tim Day of WCVA's speech on timebanking, volunteering and internships.

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People power

  1. 1. 1Volunteering Speech by Timothy Day, WCVAWe can achieve nothing without it and so much with it. Wecan waste it on trivialities or invest it wisely. We can make itor lose it but we cannot reclaim it when it has gone.What is this most precious resource? It is time - and it istime which volunteers and interns invest for personalintrinsic and extrinsic rewards - and for positive results intheir activities and in their communities.Volunteering is undertaken freely, by choice, to be of publicand community benefit and is not undertaken for financialgain.It is the 147 million hours of voluntary effort which is giveneach year in Wales by 1.13 million volunteers with 420,000people at the core.
  2. 2. 2In addition (or overlapping), there are about 230,000trustees or management group members of organisations.About 46 per cent of volunteers also take on responsibilitiessuch as organising activities - as well as delivering them.With public services under threat - and yet in greaterdemand - in these straightened economic times - there isincreasing opportunity for every member of everycommunity to take responsibility for their individual andcollective wellbeing - for ensuring that services are plannedand provided through the giving of time, energy, skills andenthusiasm.Sometimes this is done by volunteers alone – volunteerswho are inspired to ‘just get on with it’ - but in many casesvolunteers are working as key contributors to the co-ordinated ‘co-design and co-delivery’ of services within or
  3. 3. 3alongside organisations in the public, private and thirdsectors. Either way - volunteers have an important role toplay in the provision of public services – particularly at a timewhen there is an increase in demand due to poverty and alack of resources.However, even if our ‘standard of living’ is falling - and it isfalling for many of us - that is not an excuse to allow our‘quality of life’ to suffer needlessly.Quality of life partly stems from the personal rewards wederive from our activities: making friends; a sense of belonging; enjoyment of purposeful activity; experience and skills gained; building confidence and self esteem
  4. 4. 4 and giving mutual support.All these are the intrinsic rewards of volunteering to theindividual - not to mention the huge benefits to services,organisations and the wider community. Many of theseintrinsic rewards may manifest themselves extrinsically too -such as through strengthening the position of an individualvolunteer to find paid work when that becomes available.Talking of paid work, let’s address the anxiety aroundvolunteers taking on work previously done by paid staff. RobJackson and Lynn Blackadder drew a useful distinction inthe article they wrote for The Guardian last year. Theydistinguish between ‘Displacement’ and ‘Replacement’. Displacement is when paid staff make way for – are displaced - so that volunteers can fill their roles.
  5. 5. 5 Replacement is when work previously done by paid staff is reallocated to volunteers, that is to say, volunteers replace employees as the means of delivering a service.This is a subtle distinction and inevitably many people mayfeel very uncomfortable about ‘displacement’ - but‘replacement’ may often be one very effective means ofmaintaining a service which would otherwise have to bediscontinued as a result of funding cuts - and at a time ofgreater demand on a public service due to poverty.Naturally, when people are in poverty and some arestruggling to find work, we need to find ways to assist - andone is through providing internships. Internships are for adefined period of time - to undertake a specific piece of workwhich is of benefit to the intern and to the organisation.These may be paid or unpaid and may take place withinthird sector, public or private organisations. Unpaid
  6. 6. 6internships are a form of volunteering. WCVA runs aninternship scheme called Explore! for the third sector inWales which is designed to bring about many benefits to theintern, including: Hands on experience which can be included in a CV The practising and refining of skills Trying out a type of work to see if it is what the intern wants to do in the longer term Broadening life experienceOrganisations, of course, also benefit from engaging anIntern through: The availability of volunteers with skills which can be utilised creatively and beneficially for the organisation - through structured projects The grasping of an opportunity to complete the organisation’s ‘wish list’ of activities and outcomes Showcasing the third sector as a career choice Targeted work - by a carefully chosen intern enabling greater innovation - exploring ideas - gaining a better
  7. 7. 7 understanding of needs, successes and areas for improvementSo, internships should be mutually beneficial relationships.Poverty is hard to endure and presents huge challenges toindividuals, families, communities, public services and thewider economy. However, some of those challenges presentreal opportunities for volunteers to enhance their own andother people’s ‘quality of life’ through the investment of timeand energy into worthwhile activity.I began by saying that time is our most precious resource soI will now hand over to Becky, our next speaker, to talk toyou about time-banking.