Headlines: June 4th, 2010

Local authorities, community groups and other organisations are being urged to do more to involve people from under-represented groups in volunteering projects. It follows the release of a new report which shows that the cost of such action did not amount to a significant barrier.

The report, produced by the Commission for the Compact, said local councils and other bodies were not doing enough to involve under-represented groups. It found that they believed the costs involved in providing travel, resources and the need to spend additional time with potential volunteers were too high.

The Commission said groups such as people with disabilities, single parents, and refugee and asylum seekers faced a number of obstacles to taking part in volunteer projects but cost was not as important a factor as it was often perceived to be by organisations. The report found that the real annual cost of involving an under-represented person was just over 1,600 pounds. It wants councils and others to focus on breaking down more significant barriers such as childcare, disability access and transport.

The report also highlighted the need to ensure people from under-represented groups understood the concept of volunteering. For refugees, asylum seekers and migrants the concept could be a new one because in many countries the term volunteer did not exist in the same way as it does in the UK.

Nick Drew, policy adviser at the Commission, said: “Involving volunteers from these groups brings distinct benefits for organisations such as specialist knowledge and language skills, as well as promoting community cohesion.”