Professionals are turning their backs on volunteering as the economic crunch takes hold, according to a leading aid charity.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), which places office workers in volunteering roles overseas, has warned that more than 20% of its placements could go unfilled this year if it doesn’t see a significant rise in applications from UK staff by the end of October.
The charity is currently trying to recruit 335 volunteers from the UK for two-year placements, but so far just 48 professionals have gone overseas since April, and if levels of interest do not pick up 70 jobs could be left unfilled at the end of March.
Enquiries from prospective volunteers in the year to 31 August 31 2008 were down 1,236 on the previous 12 months, and this summer 55 professionals withdrew their applications, sparking concern that the credit crunch is undermining people’s confidence to volunteer.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of VSO, said: “The current economic climate is a real concern for everyone and it’s natural that UK professionals are concerned about giving up their job security.
“But people living in developing countries are not facing two or three years of credit crunch, they are living in poverty that threatens their long-term education, health, and livelihood.
“It’s crucial that we meet our commitment to partners in Africa and Asia by doing all we can to recruit the skilled professionals who are urgently needed.”
VSO’s greatest need for volunteers is for experienced managers, professionals with experience of working in primary education, and doctors and midwives. VSO can also use financial professionals where they have strong planning or management expertise.