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Learning Bite

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Learning Bite - A Volunteer Charter
Book: Learning Bite
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 18 Oct 2021, 06:43


A Volunteer Charter - The 10 Principles

Principles for Assuring Legitimacy and Preventing Exploitation of Workers and Volunteers

1. Introduction

Volunteer Scotland heart on pale blue background

Figure 1 Volunteer Scotland (All Rights Reserved)

Why do we need this Charter? 

This Charter updates the existing joint STUC Volunteer Scotland Charter to take account of a new context and the expressed need and demand for clear and unambiguous principles for assuring volunteer legitimacy and preventing exploitation. The key goal is to ensure good relations between workers and volunteers, and to ensure that other stakeholders achieve consensus on the validity of volunteer roles.

1.1. What do we mean by volunteering?

The values that underpin this charter are:  

  • Recognising people as assets - not a commodity

  • Building on people’s skills and experience

  • Promoting reciprocity, mutual respect and trust - building and supporting strong social networks

The characteristics of volunteering based on the United Nations definition are;

  • Mutual support/self-organising - where we meet our shared needs together in associational life.

  • Formal service - normally through 3rd parties with agreed roles and responsibilities and management arrangements (the charter principles are especially relevant here).

  • Civic participation and campaigning - such as youth forums, political movements, and public service decision-making

The principles of volunteering - are that volunteer activity of any kind is undertaken with free will, is not for payment, and seeks community benefits.

1.2. Who is this Charter for?

There are a wide number of stakeholders interested in ensuring good relations between paid workers and volunteers, including; 

  • Volunteer involving organisations from all sectors

  • Trades Unions and workers representatives

  • Funding and procurement agents

  • Government, both local and national

  • Development Agencies and networks

  • Workers and Volunteers

  • Beneficiaries and communities of interest

2. Where will the Charter be applied?

An image of the from page of the Volunteer Charter document informing of the 10 principle to be covered in this course

Figure 2 Volunteer Scotland (All Rights Reserved)

We envisage that this Charter will be most relevant in formal service volunteering contexts which have parallels to employment such as recruitment, management, induction, written obligations and agreed responsibilities. This is where there has been legal challenges and conflict. It’s important to state that the most common volunteer experience is not in a formal role, and is centred in associational life. Volunteering is about building friendly relations, looking out for each other and coming together to do things with shared goals

2.1. How to use the Charter

  • A principles checklist for volunteer involving organisations
  • An agenda for negotiations about legitimacy, motivations, and non-discrimination
  • An aid for the co-design of volunteer programmes and roles
  • A tool for conflict resolution and addressing media interest.
  • A test for other volunteer promotion such as on-line volunteer opportunities

2.2. Support and advice available

On-line examples and case studies about the use of the Charter and different scenarios are available. Where there is a conflict about whether there has been a breach in the Charter that the STUC/Volunteer Scotland can be contacted for conciliation support. Contact:

3. The 10 Principles for Assuring Legitimacy and Preventing Exploitation of Workers & Volunteers

Figure 3 Volunteer Scotland (All Rights Reserved)

The 10 Principles for Assuring Legitimacy and Preventing Exploitation of Workers & Volunteers

3.1. First Principle

Any volunteer activity is a freely made choice of the individual. If there is any compulsion, threat of sanctions or force, then any such activity is not volunteering

3.2. Second Principle

Volunteers should receive no financial reward for their time however out of pocket expenses should be covered; no one should be prevented from volunteering due to their income

3.3. Third Principle

Effective structures should be put in place to support, train and develop volunteers and their collaboration with paid workers

3.4. Fourth Principle

Volunteers and paid workers should be able to carry out their duties in safe, secure and healthy environments that are free from harassment, intimidation, bullying, violence and discrimination.

3.5. Fifth Principle

Volunteers should not carry out duties formerly carried out by paid workers nor should they be used to disguise the effects of non-filled vacancies or cuts in services.

3.6. Sixth Principle

Volunteers should not be used instead of paid workers or undercut their pay and conditions of service nor undertake the work of paid workers during industrial disputes.

3.7. Seventh Principle

Volunteers should not be used to reduce contract costs nor be a replacement for paid workers in competitive tenders or procurement processes.

3.8. Eighth Principle

Volunteers should not be used to bypass minimum wage legislation nor generate profit for owners.

3.9. Ninth Principle

Volunteers and paid workers should be given the opportunity to contribute to the development and monitoring of volunteering policies and procedures, including the need for policies that resolve any issues or conflicts that may arise.

3.10. Tenth Principle

Volunteer roles should be designed and negotiated around the needs and interests of volunteers, involving organisations and wider stakeholders. Finding legitimacy and avoiding exploitation through consensus depends on mutual trust and respect.

4. Volunteer Charter Quiz

Black computer keyboard with the return key in blue with the word quiz displayed on it in white

Figure 4 (Wikimedia Commons)

How much do you remember about the 10 principles? Take this short quiz to see how much you have learned!

4.1. Volunteer Charter Quiz Activity

Please Download the Volunteer Charter and encourage your staff and volunteers to take part in this quiz to ensure that they too are aware of the 10 Principles of Volunteering.

5. Charter Sign Up and Course Evaluation

Green circle with the words sign up and a checked tick box displayed in white

Figure 5 (Pixabay Licence)

Upon completion of this course you will receive a digital badge. Please note that this does not mean that you have formally signed up to or agreed to the terms of the Volunteer Scotland Volunteer Charter. 

To pledge your support formally, please complete our online form here

Thank you for taking the time to complete this Learning Bite and we hope that you have found it useful for your practice.

5.1. Course Evaluation

We would really like to hear from you about your experience of this Learning Bite. Please complete this online survey to tell us more; all evaluation feedback is anonymous and will be collated and reviewed to inform course updates.

Please remember to always relate your learning to your current situation and share your volunteer practice with others.

6. Further Resources

Multi coloured hands reaching out to the word voluntter displayed in purple

Figure 6 (Pixabay Licence)

If you enjoyed this online learning bite and quiz, you may be interested in some of the other courses that Volunteer Scotland's Volunteer Practice team offer, the following courses may be of particular interest:

  • Developing Staff and Volunteer Relations
  • Developing a Volunteer Culture

Click here to see more details of these and other learning opportunities from Volunteer Scotland.

7. About Volunteer Scotland

Volunteer Scotland Green Heart Logo

Figure 7 Volunteer Scotland (All Rights Reserved)

Volunteer Scotland is the national body for volunteering in Scotland and exists to help you make a difference through volunteering. Scotland, more than ever, needs us all to share in the nation’s common good. The potential to bring out the best in us has never been better, and we’re supporting you by:

  • Recognising the need for volunteers and demonstrating how this makes a difference
  • Understanding what volunteers and volunteer-involving groups or organisations want to do
  • Making volunteering easy for everyone, so that more people volunteer and have a great time.

8. Acknowledgements

Black and White word cloud displaying Thank You in many languages

Figure 8 Wikimedia (Public Domain)

This course was developed by the Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Practice Team as part of their free online training offers. Course writing was led by the Volunteer Practice Team; Angela McHale, Adrian Murtagh and Allana Fotheringham with invaluable contributions from Volunteer Scotland's Digital Marketing Team.

We also gratefully acknowledge the input received from Rhona Harper, Former Chair, Volunteer Scotland and Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, STUC