Fee changes wold be barrier to volunteering - Foysol Choudhury

Foysol Choudhury recently visited Pilmeny Development Project.Foysol Choudhury recently visited Pilmeny Development Project.
Foysol Choudhury recently visited Pilmeny Development Project.
Volunteering is essential for our communities and service delivery. In my role as co-convener of the Scottish Parliament cross-party group on volunteering, I see this when visiting community groups and organisations such as my recent visits to LifeCare Edinburgh and the Pilmeny Development Project.

However, volunteering is being put under threat by Scottish Government proposals to replace the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership fee waiver, for volunteers in Qualifying Voluntary Organisations (QVOs), with a fee discount. This would hugely impact organisations such as LifeCare Edinburgh who carry out vital work and rely on volunteers to be able to deliver their services.

Many vital third sector organisations foster community wellbeing, both by providing volunteering opportunities and by running essential services using volunteers. They therefore rely on the goodwill of volunteers being easily accepted by the system, such as via the PVG fee waiver system which allows volunteers to be easily and freely accredited for volunteering opportunities with vulnerable groups.

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The proposal to remove this fee waiver and replace it with a fee discount will, therefore, mean more barriers to volunteering, especially for those from economically deprived backgrounds, which will have a knock-on effect in terms of decreased wellbeing for volunteers and decreased services available to be run for the community. The Scottish Government must listen to the pleas of the third sector and ensure volunteering remains free and accessible. Otherwise, our communities and services will suffer.

Foysol Choudhury is a Labour MSP for the Lothian Region