One Norbiton’s “Rewarded Volunteering”
Mike D’Souza (Chair) April 2014
One Norbiton is aiming to create an equal partnership of local volunteers. This will not only promote self-respect and neighbourly cooperation but also create a coherent and representative community voice on matters of mutual concern. In the spirit of such participatory democracy, we do not want anyone in our membership to be considered superior to anyone else. Therefore no member is employing any other. Even though collectively, all of us, through our taxes, are the ultimate employers of our public servants, we are encouraging even these to alter their status by becoming active members and enjoy participating as volunteers alongside us. We recognise that most of our members will contribute only by voting and relatively few will be key activists who work at the centre of our organisation. Doing the latter, will always demand much more time and skill than can be expected from ordinary volunteering. This is why we have created the concept of “Rewarded Volunteering”.
For example we are currently rewarding a disabled volunteer to do all our administration by paying her honoraria worth less than £4800 pa –the maximum allowable before she loses benefits. This is proving financially beneficial to One Norbiton, as it would cost us over 25k a year were we to engage a full time employee. For less burdensome tasks, such as the One Norbiton Taskforce, we have adopted a similar concept to that used by The Community Development Foundation and offering honoraria, proportionately matched to hours of volunteering. However, because both our NEETs and Recovering Substance Abusers could incur loss of benefits if rewarded in cash, we are providing them with gifts of Vouchers, similarly matched to thehours they have spent volunteering. We treat our “Norbiteens” in the same way and although this group has child-care issues, obviously they have no restrictions due to benefits.