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Monday, 16 March 2015

job replacement or volunteers can do it just as well?

Since I last posted the topic of volunteers replacing paid staff has come up several times.

My local library is about to close, unless it can be run entirely by volunteers; apparently there will be a paid member of staff a phone call away, but what if they are on leave or just at lunch? Apart from the obvious that being a librarian is a lot more than stamping books, there is the problem that I have referred to time and again; if a family crisis or even a minor illness happens a volunteer may have different priorities to those of a paid member of staff. if a library is deemed to be a necessary part of a civilised society then people should be paid to run it. Volunteers can perform many tasks, taking books selected by library staff to housebound people is one, but actually running front line services should not be one.

Another example came at the AGM of the Voluntary Ranger service of the North York Moors National Park, . In a presentation on the Public Rights of Way network, footpaths and bridleways to most of us, it was made quite clear that volunteers would have to do far more than they had before. No longer just cutting back, cleaning steps, unblocking drains and sorting out board walks, now it is to be hanging gates, building stiles, all jobs previously done by redundant field staff. Some of us will not do this, but enough will that the jobs will get done and no one will notice that some people are now looking for jobs whilst others with pensions do their jobs for them. In another National Park, quite ridiculously, some people are now doing work as self employed contractors that could probably be done more cheaply if they were still to be employed! Will the same happen here?

However my small society has carried on, trying to distinguish between genuine voluntary things and job replacement. I have been to Leeds several times, for Several phone calls, the first to the housing provider of one of my clients to a problem she had already reported. Water pouring down the side of the bath into the kitchen below, not just a nuisance for her, but not good for their property. My call resulted in a repair within six hours, why? what was different about my phone call? My other call for my friend was about the long running saga of the gas bill, this time they have agreed to increase the time that her debt (caused by their inability to bill) can suddenly be spread over many more months, again why?

glug glug

Coasties has also carried on, one of the best tasks was drain clearing on a lovely sunny day at Ravenscar for the National Trust, Huge satisfaction when I found and cleared the entrance to a culvert under a field entrance, what a lovely glug glug as the muddy water drained away. 

storing the gravel half way down
the start of the chute

Last Wednesday we were on the Cleveland Way south of Scarborough. More sunshine in the morning and an ingenious way of getting the gravel we use for steps and in muddy areas to the site; many, many steep steps from the road. Two lengths of culvert as an improvised chute, then the gravel was stored in a temporary area, the sections moved down and the gravel moved further down. Although this section is close to a large town access for materials is very hard, steep slopes and crumbling woodland means every thing has to be brought in by hand. 

Our Fairtrade, and local craft fair was a big success, the Fairtrade stall of international crafts did well as did the local crafts, from wood turning to shawls knitted from dog hair,
the Noddies, popular
with all ages.
everyone was pleased and will come again. I was so busy I forgot to take any photos, so here is one from a previous year! Thanks again to the Friends for making us so welcome at their Meeting House.

During Fairtrade fortnight I also spoke to several local schools about Fairtrade, led a workshop on how a village might decide to use their FT premium and helped two schools with their stalls of FT goods. If anyone out there wants to do the same please let me know.

Sadly the Foodbank, continues, I help by moving donated food to our warehouse and then take some bags of selected good to various distribution places. Thanks to those who donate and shame on those in power that have made them necessary. 

The end of a mixed bag, some good, some sad and some bad.