Brown’s volunteering plans slammed as “patronising”

    Government plans to recruit young people to volunteer to help
    disabled people were branded as “patronising” by a
    disability charity this week, writes Amy
    Taylor.

    The charity John Grooms also argues that the idea undermines and
    devalues the current needs of disabled people.

    The government announced that it is going to expand pilot
    schemes where 18-year-olds receive public money if they spend their
    gap year doing voluntary work in their community. A Treasury
    spokesperson said that this could include providing home help to
    older and disabled people or restoring parks.

    “What does the chancellor think that these gap year
    volunteers will be able to do? Has he consulted with any disabled
    people or disability organisations?” said David Newnham,
    director of services at John Grooms.

    The charity is instead calling on the government to source
    ‘appropriately trained staff’ to work with and meet the
    care needs of disabled people.

    The chancellor Gordon Brown said that he aims to get one million
    new young people to become volunteers over the next five years at a
    Volunteering Conference this week. Currently three million people
    aged 15-24 engage in voluntary work each year.

    The results of the Russell Commission’s consultation on
    youth volunteering were also announced at the conference. It found
    that 95 per cent of young people wanted an active role in shaping
    their own volunteering opportunities.

    The commission will deliver its report from the consultation to
    the government around the time of Budget 2005, expected to be in
    March.

     

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