A group of 11 charities have called for a legal definition of full-time volunteering in a written submission to the House of Lords.
The call was one of a number of recommendations made in a written submission to the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee by 11 volunteering charities.
The charities have recommended the creation of a legal status for full-time volunteers. They said: "Full-time volunteers are in 'legal limbo' and have no legal status other than NEET [Not in Education, Employment or Training]. Full-time volunteers have an important role to play and can have a significant return on funding with participants improving their employability skills. They should be legally recognised."
The submission was made jointly by the Scout Association, Leap Confronting Conflict, UK Youth, vInspired, Girlguiding, NCS Trust, The Mix, Ambition, British Youth Council, Citizenship Foundation and City Year UK.
The charities said that when it comes to building an inclusive society “we strongly believe that the third sector has a vital role to play.
“Many charities already do exceptional work when it comes offering young people opportunities that allow them to take part in society and learn to become active citizens. However, on matters of social exclusion and citizenship there are lessons to be learned and more that can be done in partnership with government.”
Other recommendations included utilising money from dormant assets to support third sector organisations to drive and deliver civil society initiatives. The charities want the £2bn to be used to support the citizenship agenda.
They said that it is essential that schools should be encouraged to work in closer partnership with charities to increase civic engagement among young people. Adding that “particular effort is needed on supporting young people in care”, and that the committee and charities need to “think seriously about how we help people from poor and deprived backgrounds”.
The charities also called for collaboration with existing reviews to make bold recommendations to government.
They said: “Following recent events, several reviews are now underway, including the Youth Social Action Review being chaired by Steve Holliday. We would encourage the House of Lords Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee to work closely with this review as it presents a real opportunity for the committee to make bold recommendations that government should be encouraged to accept and act upon.”
The charities also called for a review and the implementation of findings on international ‘domestic gap years’ in the UK. They said they encourage the committee to “look at international comparisons and how ‘domestic gap years’ work”. Adding: “Important lessons can be learnt that should be implemented in the UK for similar voluntary schemes.”