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Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

‘The

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England Fig 3.1: Types of Organisation helped, by age and sex Source: Helping Out, Cabinet Office, 2007 3.9 It is also worth noting here that volunteers with no qualifications are more likely to volunteer in heath and disability settings than in any other. Fig 3.2: Types of organisation helped by groups at risk of social exclusion 16

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England 3.10 In terms of wider public policy, healthcare organisations must be doing something right to attract this level of participation. In terms of managing volunteers, lack of qualifications may, however, constrain what some people can do, or do well. It also begs a question: given the commitments which health sector employers (and Skills for Health) have made to the Skills Pledge, and to Language, Literacy and Numeracy work, do these commitments extend to volunteers? Who volunteers? – the Healthcare Sector 3.11 In the chapter on “main problems and obstacles” in Baroness Neuberger’s report, she begins by discussing the narrowness of the group of volunteers: There is a general perception that volunteering in the health sector is for older people, and this appears to be broadly substantiated. Professor Colin Rochester, in his 2006 report for Volunteering in the Third Age, found that 73% of people who volunteer in health are aged 50 or over. There is also a perception that volunteering in the health sector is predominantly female, which again appears to be true. Helping Out found that women were more likely than men to volunteer in organisations whose main field of interest was health/disability. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with this. But there do seem to be both real and perceived barriers in existence which deter men and young people from getting into volunteering in health and social care. This is in part due to some of the routes into this type of volunteering, as well as to do with the opportunities available. There are also perception issues around where and who people will be volunteering with, as well as a widespread belief that volunteering in health requires a large time commitment or will only be needed to help individuals with complex support needs. 3.12 Baroness Neuberger notes that more men volunteer in the sports and environmental fields, both of which have wider health benefits, and suggest that this may be a route into encouraging more into the health field. She also notes that the National Volunteering Database tends to show traditional roles like working in hospital shops, meeting and greeting, and hospital transport, which she thinks less likely to appeal to men and younger people. (She doesn’t say so, but the context is that there are more women than men in many parts of the healthcare sector, and consequent problems recruiting men to paid roles). 17

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