As the coalition government continues its plan to decentralise, The Fundraiser took to the streets of Cambridge to ask the public what might put them off playing a greater role in their community
The pros and cons of the coalitionís localisation plans are currently under constant media scrutiny. While Vince Cable has dubbed current politics ďmaoistĒ, others nod to parallels with previous Conservative governments. Whatever our personal stance on the matter, contemporary changes to policy are going to have a profound effect on the third sector. As the onus is placed on local communities to bear responsibility for their own welfare, we thought weíd ask to what extent individuals are willing to contribute to Big Society and how charity fundraisers can encourage them.
Jacob Newman, 24, PhD student
I donít feel sufficiently enthused to do it. If I was made to feel more empathy or was personally affected by a cause I might volunteer. I feel the government is shifting responsibility under the guise of improving communities when itís hard for normal people to make a difference without an incentive Ė for example, money.
Peter New, 52, market trader
I would recommend volunteering to anyone who hasnít done it, you find it is far more rewarding to give than to receive. I have volunteered in teaching roles and at my kidsí Scout group, because I have three children and I feel itís only fair to contribute.
Neal Hancock, 61, builder
I donít volunteer because I work full-time and just donít have the spare time. However, my wife and I have discussed the idea of volunteering next Christmas, for either the homeless or the elderly, as thatís when we have the free time and when we feel weíd be most needed.
Emily Smith, 21, student
I volunteered on a turtle reserve in Costa Rica when I was 16 but I was mainly drawn to the location. I think it is harder to convince young people to volunteer in the UK, even though unpaid work can be very rewarding. I gained life experience and people skills and it is character building to be taken out of your comfort zone, but those benefits need to be more widely communicated.
Michelle Wyatt, 35, senior support officer at Scope
I find the hardest thing about encouraging people to volunteer is their fear of the unknown, particularly when it comes to helping the elderly or people with special needs. Often people would like to volunteer but they donít know how to interact with disabilities. I started volunteering while I was at school, which is what led me into care work.
For practical advice on how to increase engagement with local volunteers, read these 5 top tips for successful community engagement.
This article first appeared in The Fundraiser, Issue 1, January 2011