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Lincolnshire firms urged to allow staff time to help community

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 18, 2012

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Businesses are being called on to let their employees off work to give time to the community.

The drive comes as Lincoln's hub for volunteering celebrates ten years in action.

Volunteer Centre Services in Beaumont Fee started up after the city lost its previous volunteering organisation.

When it started up, with £30,000 from the European Social Fund, it had 200 people on its books. Now it has 1,200 people volunteering every year.

Area coordinator Diane Slapp said one of the biggest changes over the decade was less people walking through the doors, despite numbers going up.

"At least 60 per cent of our volunteers get in touch electronically now," she said.

"We're now working with more than 500 organisations and that's just in Lincoln, including charities, councils and the health service.

"We're phenomenally busy and what's really strong is people just wanting to give something back."

The centre has attracted national accreditations and works with larger organisations such as Age UK and the Nomad Trust.

Looking to the future, it's businesses that can provide a new wave of volunteers, according to Mrs Slapp.

She said: "From July we are going to be looking at businesses and encourage them to think about releasing employees to get more involved in volunteering during work time. Volunteering can be a really small thing or a really big thing.

"In Lincoln, there are lots of organisations and people who are committed to helping people and if volunteers were not involved, those people would fall through the net. You can dip your toe in – whether you're looking for work and are a bit low in confidence or a high-flyer, everyone has something to offer.

"Everyone has a valuable contribution to make and that's what we offer."

Right now, the centre has an opening for a drama session leader, a community advocate to help people in the Ermine area. And The Museum of Lincolnshire Life wants a miller.

The centre is also looking for people to volunteer at the Lincoln Olympic Torch Relay when it comes to Lincoln on June 27.

And people with a week to spare from August 18 to 24 can come forward to help the Egyptian Paralympic Team when they stay at the University of Lincoln's Riseholme campus.

Lincolnshire Co-operative's 2,700 staff get the chance to spend two days per year doing paid volunteering.

Spokesman for Lincolnshire Co-op Emma Snedden said: "Supporting the local area is at the heart of what we do at Lincolnshire Co-op. Giving our colleagues a chance to volunteer for projects is one way of doing that. As well as the practical support it gives good causes, it means our staff are out-and-about making connections in their local communities."

For more information on volunteering visit www.do-it. org.uk

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  • InsideStory  |  June 18 2012, 6:44PM

    Employers are not that charitable these days plus people in the Lincolnshire area can not afford to take unpaid time off work to volunteer due to low hourly rates.Plus why should someone volunteer when in most cases the people at the top of the charity are on such high salary's.

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  • zkellerman  |  June 18 2012, 11:35AM

    Not many people can (whether time constraints or monetary issues) or will, even if they want to, work for free - bar from the unemployed in which most will be actively looking for a paid job anyway (which conflicts with JSA / Job Centre T&Cs anyway) and those whom are retired;- as an 'area coordinator', I'm guessing Ms. Slapp gets paid for her herself (correct me if I'm wrong and apologies if this is the case)? As a past volunteer myself, these days as much as I'd like to give more time to volunteer than I can / do, I'm increasingly in a sticky and delicate situation where the chance for monetary gain is becoming a much greater priority than giving more time to worthwhile and satisfying causes - unfortunately this is the case for many others, too. I'm lucky to be able to still be slightly flexible and volunteer at this stage. There's a reason there's not enough volunteers even if the social / economic downturn has brought more people looking to actively participate - the volunteers themselves need incentive to give up their time (time is money which unfortunately in these days rings more and more loudly) - something (obviously) other than money - proper branching qualifications (rather than the odd one in retail or customer relations), future career prospects in the specific charity, store discounts, small tax or university fee discounts, etc are all viable but likely won't happen. Unfortunately I can't see most businesses letting their employees have time off to work for free elsewhere unless there was heavy advertisement in it for them which would skew the view people have of charities even more. It's nice to see the co-op doing their bit though!

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