In this piece, Charlie talks about the need to have plans for volunteers and a reward system that allows people experiencing homelessness to gradually reengage with mainstream society.
You’ve got two different types of volunteers. You’ve got people who are retired, they’ve got plenty of spare time on their hands, that’s great, that’s fantastic, that’s brilliant, that’s absolutely wonderful and they can do it but then you’ve got the bulk of the volunteers are people with lived experience.
Now the one thing I’ve found out about ‘em is they are throw-awayable. You use em you burn ‘em out and throw them away and then there is another load coming through with lived experience and then you take them on. ‘They should be used and their experience should be brought to the fore.
They should have a path built into take them up to where they can go, whether that is going back into the work place or reaching the highest limits that they can, whether it be permitted work or even just staying on the dole but given that little bit extra to reward them for what they are doing, and giving to society, to the workplace, to the country, to people, to everybody.
They should be rewarded for it and it shouldn’t affect their benefit. Also, there should be proper plans for them, for people that can get back on to their feet. And of course, when you first come into the volunteering sector, you have no idea of time or responsibility and what happens with people volunteering is it gradually builds up so that you start coming on time for appointments.
You start working 2 hours a week, five hours, a week, 10 hours a week. You build up and once you get to that point where you’re a timekeeper, you’re a person who can talk to people and take notes that should be a path back into normal…not normal society …mainstream life, you should give them a chance to get in to mainstream life so that they can go forward with their life. But it sometimes doesn’t happen. There are charities, third sector organisations that use ‘em and abuse ‘em and when they start getting too expensive they dispose of them and pick out another one.
That shouldn’t happen. They should be protected. They should be given rights and shown a proper plan of what they want for them. Some people will never get back in to mainstream life and they should be looked after and given a little extra for what they are doing.
It shouldn’t affect benefits, housing benefits, other benefits, PIP payments the dentist, opticians or anything like that, to say thank you for what they are doing.
But there are other people where they should have proper plans for them where they go back in to mainstream life and they build them up. They build their confidence up and build their personalities up so that they can actually return back to the workplace and do whatever they want.
Volunteering 9 times out of ten for people with lived experience has no path finding.