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Forthcoming policy developments
A Youth Engagement Strategy
The National Volunteering Strategy 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.
A public consultation on questionnaire content took during October-November 2017. In advance of the 2021 Census, Volunteer Ireland lobbied, in their Submission to CSO on 2021 Census, for the collection of information on volunteering. Eight new questions have since been added to the 2021 Census and 25 existing questions have been amended. These new questions will collect information about volunteering, alongside data on renewable energy, smoking, volunteering and childcare. The exact questions are yet to be released. The Census is scheduled to take place on the18th of April 2021.
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; and
- lack of resourcing.
Jobseekers and volunteering
There is an ongoing debate on jobseekers and volunteering. 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.