AFTER recent newspaper reports of a volunteer in a position of trust stealing from the charity I wonder if the controls are tight enough for volunteer roles?
Are we too worried to question people who seemingly give so much of their time that we do not scrutinise them as much as we should? Do we hold them above normal levels of question?
Police checks (CRB or the new DBS) are more often than not done, especially when it involves children or vulnerable adults, but is this enough?
Are we in such need for volunteers that we may overlook the odd indiscretion? The danger would seem to be that if we allocated the same tight guidelines as we would on a paid member of staff, that we may not have the wealth of volunteers we have now.
I have never had anything to hide. However, I am as much at fault as anyone in that if I am giving up my time, then I would hate to be subject to strict contracts. But equally I can see the need for them.
Somehow it seems worse when a person we hold in high esteem betrays the community.
Some people are put on a pedestal due to their voluntary work and seen as godlike in the community.
This could lead to mere “ordinary” people feeling unable to question them.
Do we need more stringent rules in place for people who work unpaid for the benefit of others? Or is this an insult to them?
I think volunteering is a great way of improving your skill set and improving your CV, and it benefits the community no end.
But one incident sets the good work back tenfold. Trust that has been built has suddenly gone and the charity that has become victim has to fight to recover and maintain the level of community support that one person may have taken from them.
When someone is convicted of cheating a charity, does this then stop them in the future from volunteering? Surely, any breach of trust should be enough to permanently stop them in future?
For the charity, there is a danger that reputation and trust that has taken years to build has been set back years. I hope that everyone can look beyond the abuse of trust and see that charity and volunteering has a special place in the heart of any community.
Ultimately I feel that the rules of volunteering should be more stringent and anyone with any concern should have the confidence to voice them.
This will not be the last case like this but I hope that eventually the charities involved can.