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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.10 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 28 March 2024
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  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates


Forthcoming policy developments

A youth engagement strategy

The National Volunteering Strategy (2021-2025) sets out the long-term action to consult on a Youth Engagement Strategy. It lists the following bodies as responsible for this consultation:

  • the Department of Education
  • the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
  • the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.


Increased data on volunteering

The National Volunteering Strategy sets out that by 2026 there will be an “increase in the evidence base of the quantity and demographic breakdown of volunteers, contribution of volunteers and the value and benefits of volunteering individuals, groups and communities” (pg. 40). To achieve this, the Strategy includes the medium-term action of establishing a National Survey on Volunteering to provide baseline data on volunteers.


Ongoing debates

Issues affecting volunteers

Volunteer Ireland have highlighted several significant issues affecting the volunteering sector, including young volunteers. These include:

  • the changing demands from volunteers;
  • the lack of understanding that volunteering is not free;
  • a concern that volunteering is taken for granted;
  • whether or not there should be legal protection for volunteers enshrined in law;
  • demographic changes; 
  • lack of resourcing.  


Volunteering passport

The National Volunteering Strategy 2021 – 2025 sets out the aim to 'Explore the potential for the introduction of a formal qualification in recognition of the skills, knowledge and competencies acquired from volunteering'. 

I-VOL is the Irish national volunteering database, managed by Volunteer Ireland. It is a search engine that allows potential volunteers to search by location, cause and activity. The National Volunteering Strategy 2021 – 2025 also sets out the action to 'Further develop the IVOL database to include a ‘volunteering passport’ section that records the accredited skills and competencies of volunteers gained through volunteering role'.  

Jobseekers and volunteering

In theory, those who are entitled to jobseeker’s allowance (a social welfare payment) are entitled to receive the payment and volunteer, if they remain available to take up paid employment. However, practical barriers may exist. 

Volunteer Ireland has reported that it frequently receives reports of jobseekers being refused the option to volunteer by their Deciding Officers (employees of the public employment service). Volunteer Ireland believes that this is primarily due to a lack of training or understanding of the benefits and eligibility of volunteering for jobseekers. Volunteer Ireland advocates on behalf of jobseekers to the Department of Employment and Social Protection to ensure eligible jobseekers are not just permitted to volunteer, but also that it is understood as a positive activity that increases employability. 

Jobseekers must complete an application form (VW 1 form) to engage in voluntary work. The completed application form is sent to the Local Intreo Centre (public employment service) or Branch Office and a Deciding Officer determines whether the person may take up the work in question without affecting entitlement to the jobseeker's payment. This application form can be perceived as a barrier to volunteering for jobseekers.


Students volunteering in Transition Year

There is a debate on the difficulties some young people may encounter to volunteer as part of the Transition Year programme in schools. Some young people, for example, young people from ethnic minorities, might find it difficult to secure volunteering opportunities.