Charities fear Brexit policy is ‘closing the door’ to volunteers

22 Aug 2018 News

A number of volunteering bodies have said they fear that the government’s approach to Brexit is “closing the door” to potential volunteers from outside of the UK. 

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and a number of other organisations have written to the Home Secretary with concerns that Brexit will affect the number of volunteers. 

SCVO, Camphill Scotland, Volunteer Scotland, Cyrenians, Volunteering Matters and L’Arche have asked for an urgent meeting with home secretary, Sajid Javid highlighting that the number of people taking part in volunteering programmes has fallen since Britain voted to leave the European Union. 

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of SCVO, said: “Charities in Scotland need to recruit more volunteers than ever, and it is vital that current volunteering schemes – which help us attract volunteers from across the world – are not only maintained, but further enhanced.

“We believe it is of the upmost importance that the UK government commits to recognising the important contribution made by volunteers and voluntary workers across the UK, instead of closing the door on greatly valued and much needed volunteers from Europe and beyond.”

Increase in rejections of non-EU volunteers

It also says that there has been an “alarming increase” in rejections for people from outside the European Union who are applying to come and volunteer in Scotland. 

The letter says that there is no longer a consistent approach to Tier 5 applications from non-EU citizens. Tier 5 visas are designed for people from outside the European Economic Area looking to come to the UK for a short time to do work experience or take a language course. 

Charities told the government that “there no longer seems to be a consistent approach applied to applications from different countries leading to a loss of volunteer contributions that many charities rely on”. 

Ewan Aitken, chief executive of Cyrenians, added: “As an organisation that has a long history of successfully supporting, and being supported by, volunteers we are greatly concerned by the recent decline in successful Tier 5 volunteering applications.

“By excluding individuals who have the desire to support vital services delivered by a wide range of third sector organisations, our government is directly impacting the quality of the services available for Scottish citizens in need of our support.

“Volunteering is the heartbeat of the third sector and international volunteers should be celebrated for both their willingness to get involved and the diversity they bring to our sector. We strongly urge the government to explore this worrying trend and address the current inconsistencies in regards to international volunteering.”

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