Volunteer work takes a step back
Modern-day lifestyle and government policies have caused many to be less committed to volunteer work, says charity head.2 May 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Trouw voices concern about the effect that modern-day living is having on volunteer work. According to the head of the Dutch Sunflower charity, which offers support to the chronically ill, the disabled and the elderly, "government policy is damaging volunteer work" and a major shortage of volunteers is looming.
The paper explains "employees now have to work longer and women have to participate in the job market as much as possible ... so who has the energy for volunteer work? And meanwhile, in our ageing society, we need more volunteers and unpaid carers."
The number of volunteers is up, but statistics can be deceptive, warns Marijke van Eck of Sunflower: "The nature of the commitment has changed. You used to have women who didn't have a paid job and who devoted a lot of hours to volunteer work ... that generation is dying out. Today's volunteers have to work around busy schedules."
She is very happy about one new development, however: the government's plans to introduce volunteer-work placements for secondary school pupils. A number are already in operation.
"Whenever I see the storm clouds gathering, these young people help bring the sun out. ... The average age of volunteers has been going down over the last few years, but it's still 61."
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / flickr photo by rusticus80 / Expatica]
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