22 Dec 2017

Public services in Wales are changing due to a range of factors including the need to meet increased demand with reduced resources. This change presents a number of opportunities and challenges, and offers the potential to re-imagine the role of volunteering and social action within public service delivery.

Caring hands largeVolunteers already play an important role in delivering public services, and with the right planning and support, there is scope to achieve more. Early planning for volunteering, based on strong leadership from Welsh Government, Public Sector and Third Sector leaders can enable a transformation in the way we approach public service delivery. 

The benefits of increased volunteer involvement are far ranging, including; improved outcomes for those receiving services; health and well being benefits for volunteers; better designed services due to increased citizen engagement; improved local recruitment and retention of staff as a result of volunteers entering employment, and many more besides. 

There are challenges to be overcome and potential threats to be mitigated, for example the perception amongst staff and the public that volunteering may be used as a cover for budget cuts. Much is known however about what already works, and this paper includes a series of recommendations about how to make public service volunteering successful and of maximum benefit. 

There are questions to be put to decision makers, including on how they will support and fund innovative approaches to volunteer involvement and partnership working between the Third and Public sectors. 

The Volunteering Wales Network (VWN) has been exploring what the role of volunteering might be in public services in the future. It has drafted a paper which sets out a vision for alternative models of public service delivery in Wales that include properly scoped and supported volunteering. 

The paper will be presented at the Gofod 3 event on 8 March as part of a panel discussion session. 

The draft paper has been circulated to the Network membership and is available on request from fliddell@wcva.org.uk to anyone who would like to contribute to the discussion. Comments are called for by 12 January along with examples of innovative involvement of volunteers in public services, and in particular where successful partnerships between Third and Public sector organisations have been demonstrated.