Volunteer scheme could cause havoc

HR managers are warning that volunteers recruited through
the Chancellor’s new £300m community fund must be managed properly if public
and community services are to benefit.

Last week, the public services union Unison claimed the
Government’s plans to have volunteers working alongside trained staff in the
provision of public services could cause “havoc”.

Keith Sonnet, deputy general secretary of Unison, said, “You
cannot get high-quality public services on the cheap, and using part-time
volunteers instead of well trained, full-time committed employees would lead to
chaos in the public sector and to poorer public services.”

Basildon and Thurrock General Hospital has over 200
volunteers coordinated by a support service manager in its hotel services
department, rather than by HR.

John Adsett, head of project development at Basildon and
Thurrock General Hospitals Trust, said, “Volunteers are an important part of
our hospital, but cannot be seen to be replacing full-time staff. As long as
they have their own focal point of reference and are given clear policies and
guidelines there is no reason why volunteers cannot work side-by-side with
full-time employees.”

Terry Gorman, assistant chief executive of personnel and
corporate services at Nottinghamshire County Council, said, “As long as the
volunteers are plugging gaps and not taking full-time jobs then I see no
problem. There are so many parts of the public sector that have staff and
skills shortages, volunteers obviously have a role to play.”

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