Volunteer work praised by council leaders
The work of volunteers in Stafford Borough has been praised by community leaders – but has also sparked questions on who is responsible for safeguarding.
Councillor Louise Nixon raised the issue at the latest meeting of Stafford Borough Council’s Community Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.
She said: “There is now a lot of people doing voluntary work. Who is responsible for making sure that everyone has DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance and has safeguarding training and how is that working in practice?
“It’s great that we have volunteers and it’s great they’re there doing a fantastic job – is safeguarding a problem here?”
Councillor Chris Baron said: “I can remember way back in the early 1970s my late husband saying ‘if there were no volunteers the whole country would come to a halt’.
“This has been going on for years – people volunteer more and more. They are diversifying from what they were doing before and diversifying into other areas.”
Councillor Jeremy Pert, cabinet member for community, responded: “We are blessed with the wealth of volunteers we have in Stafford Borough and we should never take it for granted. We have a very strong voluntary sector in Stafford.
“In terms of sufficient quality checks voluntary sector groups should be run on a day to day basis by someone who has responsibility for those actions. We should not move away from the focus that people running groups have a responsibility for the safe running of those groups.
“They have a responsibility to their volunteers and they have a responsibility to the people they are offering support or a service to. If they are not sure of those responsibilities they should go to somebody like Support Staffordshire or SCVYS (Staffordshire Council Of Voluntary Youth Services) who will be able to give them support and direction.
“People need to understand they need to run safe services. If people are concerned they are not fulfilling their role or necessary obligations the Charities Commission is the first port of call. If they think there is a criminal activity going on the first port of call is the police.”