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THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL

DRAFT VOLUNTEERING POLICY
The public is invited to comment on the Council's Draft Volunteering Policy. Responses should be made to Ken McCorquodale, Chief Executive's Office, The Highland Council, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX by Thursday 4 July.  Ken's email address is ken.mccorquodale@highland.gov.uk

April 2002

1. 1. Within the adopted voluntary sector policy the Council has already defined its

view of volunteering: -

"Volunteering is an important expression of citizenship. It is the commitment by individuals of time and energy for the benefit of the community. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain. It is one of the main ways in which citizens of all ages and from all sectors of society become involved in the life of their community and society.

Volunteering also has many benefits for individuals, providing an invaluable and inexpensive gateway for personal development and fulfilment."

1. 2. Volunteering is recognised as a major resource, contributing thousand of hourís labour per week to the Highland social economy.

1. 3. The Council recognises that it has a variety of roles in relation to volunteering including acting as: -

∑ A supporter of volunteering in Highland communities.

∑ A funder of activities that give rise to opportunities for volunteering.

∑ A purchaser of services that engages volunteers.

∑ An engager of volunteers in the delivery of services.

∑ An employer, with skilful staff, who themselves undertake volunteering.

1. 4. This policy statement looks at each of their roles in turn and sets out a clear

statement of policy which should promote, encourage and guide volunteering in

Highland.

2. A SUPPORTER OF VOLUNTEERING IN HIGHLAND COMMUNITIES.

2. 1. The Council recognises that a few, very simple measures in work and working practice can make a positive impact on volunteering. This policy statement seeks to cement these good practices into the activities of the Council. 

2. 2. This policy recognises that the voluntary sector cannot thrive without an adequate

infrastructure, which addresses the need for: -

∑ information on volunteering,

∑ advice on how to get involved,

∑ volunteer training and development.

Accordingly Council services, working in liaison with Volunteering Highland and the many hundreds of voluntary groups across the highlands will seek to maximise the availability of information and advice on volunteering, encourage volunteers to come forward, co-ordinate the placement of volunteers and promote opportunities for volunteer training.

2. 3. The Council, and its wellbeing partners, note and support the fact that public agencies in simply recognising the value of volunteering can itself lead to a greater commitment to volunteering. Accordingly the Council will seek to highlight volunteer endeavour through publicity, events and awards.

2. 4. That streamlined Council procedure can help reduce the burden on volunteers and voluntary organisations. The council will continue to adopt procedures and practices that assist volunteering through for example the provision of straightforward advice and quick responses to enquiries. In particular Council Services will seek to provide good information and advice on volunteering issues and opportunities through the Councilís web-site Ė www.highland.gov.uk . The Council will seek to highlight its efforts of volunteering within individual Service Plans and set out clear outcomes to be realised.

2. 5. The Council recognises the benefits of the involvement of the local voluntary sector in consulting volunteers and will establish recognised mechanisms to ensure that the voluntary sector is consulted on the wide range of issues that affect volunteers. The Council will work with its Wellbeing Alliance partners to coordinate effort.

2. 6. The Council recognises the need for a strategic approach to the development of volunteering and in particular supports the work of the local volunteering agency, Volunteering Highland, in providing leadership on volunteering. The Council will encourage networking of Volunteering Highland with other key voluntary sector organisations such as local Councils of Voluntary Service (CVSs) to co- ordinate work, promote good practice and ensure quality of service to the consumer.

3. A FUNDER OF ACTIVITIES THAT GIVE RISE TO OPPORTUNITIES FOR VOLUNTEERING.

3. 1. The Council invests over £9m per annum in the voluntary sector and more in terms of securing services from organisations who engage volunteers. Service Agreements or conditions of grant govern many of these activities. Through these arrangements the Council seeks Best Value and Performance Measurements. The Council will seek to ensure that in funding activities evidence of a proactive approach to involving volunteers should be included as a requirement where  appropriate.

3. 2. The policy to be promoted must make it easier for people to volunteer, especially under-represented groups such as young people, people with a disability, older people and people from minority ethnic groups. The policy will charge all existing supported organisations to set specific standards of performance of volunteer recruitment and support as an obligation from their funders. Additional funds are being made available to local communities and Councils under the Scottish Executiveís social exclusion agenda and other programmes to help widen the base of those who actively participate in volunteering. The Council and its partners will seek to draw down these new funding opportunities to assist with this objective.

3. 3. The Council in funding services involving volunteers will also ensure that service providers using volunteers know about and understand this volunteering policy and the principles that underpin it. It is expected that they in turn will adopt the same good practices and procedures.

3. 4. The Council will seek to encourage service providers engaging volunteers to ensure t hat volunteering opportunities are advertised widely, in ways that are accessible to all sections of the community. Such advertising will specify the task to be undertaken and will draw attention to the benefits and experience to be gained from participation in volunteering.

4. A PURCHASER OF SERVICES THAT ENGAGES VOLUNTEERS.

4. 1. The Council in purchasing services involving volunteers will work with its service providers to ensure that:

∑ The role of volunteers is made clear and satisfactory arrangements are in place for their management.

∑ Information, advice and assistance will be available to voluntary management committees about the handling of the contractual arrangements.

∑ Consideration will be given to utilising agreements to set out the roles and commitments of the volunteers.

4. 2. The Council will occasionally seek information on the involvement of volunteers in the provision of purchased services. The purpose for the collection of this data is to promote the opportunities for volunteering, determine the characteristics of those so involved and where appropriate seek to broaden the range of those who could get involved in volunteering opportunities within local communities.

5. AN ENGAGER OF VOLUNTEERS IN THE DELIVERY OF SERVICES.

5. 1. Volunteering Highland in contr ibuting to the development to this policy have highlighted the following principles for volunteering in public serves which the Council is happy to endorse. These are:

Distinctiveness: The contribution volunteers make is distinctive. Volunteers are not the same as paid
  staff. Differences in their time commitment, their contribution and the relationship they develop within
  the organisation need to be understood and reflected in the way they are managed.

Additional: The tasks that volunteers carry out are additional and complementary to the work of paid
  staff. Their roles should not be a substitute for paid workers. Volunteers should have appropriate and
  clearly defined roles.

Value and diversity: Volunteers can contribute to social services by adding value and diversity.
  Volunteering provides opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to become involved in
  their communities. It allows for people who are socially excluded to bring their skills and experience to
  a wide range of situations and help build links and bridges. People from different backgrounds,
  education levels, ages, disabilities, and from black and ethnic minority communities, can contribute
  their skills and experience.

Quality: Volunteers can thus enhance the quality of a service by adding value and diversity.
  Volunteers should be involved in meaningful and important work, which should be carried out to a
  good standard.

Reciprocity: There is reciprocity in volunteering - it is a two-way process.  Volunteers are motivated
  to volunteer for a variety of reasons and it is important to understand these. They include worthwhile
  achievement and helping others, learning new skills, and gaining social support networks. It is crucial
  to balance and match these aims with the needs that must be met and the tasks that must be
  undertaken.

Parity and recognition: Volunteers, while not paid staff, should have parity of esteem with them.
  They need clarity about their roles and responsibilities, induction, supervision, support, training and
  opportunities for development. Volunteers should abide by, and be subject to, the organisationís
  policies and procedures on health and safety, equal opportunities and confidentiality.

Investment: This parity requires investment in volunteering and senior level management support.
  Although volunteers give their time, skills and talents for free and bring added value and diversity,
  their management requires adequate resourcing. Volunteersí out -of-pocket expenses should be
  reimbursed, and staff responsible for involving, managing and supervising volunteers should be
  supported with time, training and recognition.

Safety: Volunteering needs to be safe. Good practice in the management of volunteers is essential to
  minimise risks and to operate safely.

Choice: Service users have the right to choose not to engage in volunteer activity if it is not right for
  them, and social service staff should be consulted about working alongside volunteers. Volunteers
  should have a choice of voluntary work and be allowed to opt for specific roles. Choice adds to the
  involvement of a wider variety of volunteers.

5. 2. To help bring these principles into working practice the Council when engaging volunteers will
  recognise the following rights and in return expect volunteers to adhere to certain responsibilities.

Rights of volunteers

∑ To know what is expected of them. Tasks to be performed by volunteers will be clearly defined, so
  that all concerned with their activities are sure of their respective responsibilities.

∑ to have clearly specified lines of support and supervision.

∑ To be valued.

∑ To have safe working conditions.

∑ To be insured.

∑ To know what their rights and responsibilities are if something goes wrong.

∑ To be paid agreed expenses.

∑ where appropriate the Council will provide an induction period and a review/appraisal session to
  assess the progress of the placement and to resolve any problems

∑ To receive appropriate and relevant training.

∑ To be free from any form of discrimination or harassment which contravenes good equal opportunities
  practice.

∑ Have appropriate access to grievance and disciplinary procedures.

Expectation that Volunteers will be :

∑ Reliable

∑ Honest

∑ Respect confidentiality and, where necessary, sign confidentiality agreements.

∑ Attend training and support sessions where agreed

∑ Carry out their tasks in a way which corresponds to the aims and values of the authority

∑ Work within agreed guidelines and remits.

5. 3. It is the responsibility of Council Services to identify ways in which the work of the Council can be
  extended by the involvement of volunteers, and to ensure that these opportunities complement rather
  than supplement the work of employees. The Council will consult with appropriate Trade Union when
  appropriate.

5. 4. Volunteers will not be asked to take on tasks formerly or currently undertaken by employees, or to
  work in ways, which facilitate a decrease in paid employment.  Volunteers will not be employed in
  times of industrial action to do the work of paid staff. It is important to recognise however that they
  may continue with their regular work, but should not be asked to undertake additional duties.

5. 5. Turning to issues of recruitment, interview and selection all appropriate volunteering opportunities w
  ill be advertised widely in ways that are accessible to all sections of the community. Such advertising
  will specify the task to be undertaken and will draw attention to the benefits and experience to be
  gained from participation in volunteering. Written agreements between the Council and the volunteer
  will detail description of the task, time, commitment, necessary skills and  actual duties. The Council's
  Equal Opportunities Policy will be adhered to in relation to appointing volunteers.

5. 6. The Council has clearly understood procedures for vetting volunteers who are to work with
  children and other vulnerable groups. Vetting/Screening procedures will take account of proposals for
  a National System of Accreditation and vetting information for adults working with children and young
  people in Scotland. The Council will request references where this is appropriate.

5. 7. Whilst the bulk of volunteering activity may be undertaken by adults, it is recognised that some
  volunteering work may involve young people. The Council will provide appropriate and proper levels
  of support and supervision for young people who volunteer.

6. AN EMPLOYER, WITH SKILFUL STAFF, WHO THEMSELVES UNDERTAKE VOLUNTEERING.

6. 1. The Council has over 12,000 employees many of who undertake volunteering activities within their
  own communities. The Council is very supportive of staff who use their skills and experience to the
  benefit of local interests, in the knowledge that many of these individuals bring in return additional
  information, understanding and skills to their profession. Indeed the council positively encourages staff
  to become involved in voluntary activity.

6. 2. The Councilís Code of Conduct already addresses the relevant points on which staff should be
  aware when committing themselves to volunteering activities. For example: -In undertaking voluntary
  activities outside the Council, staff must ensure that there is no conflict of interest, and that there will
  be no adverse effect on the work of the Council. Care must be taken by staff in accepting gifts or
  opportunities that might conflict with the work or interests of the Council. Furthermore the use of
  Council resources (Council equipment, financial and other resources) is limited and always requires
  express consent from the council. Guidance from management is always available to staff who are in
  doubt over these matters.

6. 3. The Council in its encouragement of employer- supported volunteering will:

∑ Increase employees' awareness of the opportunities for volunteering through advertising in Council
  bulletins, pre-retirement and professional development courses, etc.

∑ The Council will look at the feasibility of designating an appropriate officer within services and Areas
  to support promote and encourage the involvement of employees in volunteering. Alternatively staff
  are encouraged to approach Volunteering Highland who can assist with the placement of volunteers.

∑ The Council will seek to promote volunteering experiences to staff drawing on initiatives and events in
  Highland, for example events promoted during Volunteering Week, Children in Needs, Comic Relief, etc.