Over the last year Voluntary Action Scotland (led by Volunteer Glasgow and Trust Volunteering Inverclyde), Department of Work and Pensions and the wider TSI network have been collaborating on making it easier for those who claim welfare benefits to volunteer. This collaboration came about as a result of the rapidly evolving landscape of social security and welfare reform including the introduction of Universal Credit; and concerns from TSIs of challenges and pressures relating to what people in receipt of DWP benefits were being told about volunteering. We recognised that mixed messages, information and approaches meant that some people who wanted to volunteer felt unable to, or felt barred from doing so, whilst others felt mandated to do so.
The focus of this work is to help co-ordinate and synchronise the support and information provided to people by TSIs and Job Centre Plus offices about volunteering through:
- a new partnership offer between our agencies and networks; establishing expectations for local engagement of TSIs and DWP/JCP staff
- up to date DWP guidance about volunteering on DWP welfare benefits
The final partnership offer has now been approved and signed off by both DWP and VAS, and that the DWP guidance document has been finalised.
It is important to point out that this is the start of our formalised partnership work, providing an opportunity for us all to deliver a significant improvement towards a fairer Scotland. Please do everything in your power to disseminate the new DWP guidance as widely as possible, using the partnership agreement to develop your local relationships to promote volunteering. VAS and DWP will be continuing to work nationally, including work on the toolkit for training master-classes. We will continue to work with DWP and TSIs to progress this next phase.
The process to get here has been a truly collaborative exercise and TSIs have both shaped and shared in the joint ambition, vision and progression of this work from the start. As a result we believe that this will be significant in helping to further support volunteers across Scotland.
Download the final DWP Guidance