AIBU to be fuming with the perception that volunteer equals crap?

(11 Posts)
LalaLyra Sun 10-Jan-16 23:14:58

I'm the chairperson of an out of school care and playscheme group. It's all set up properly (registered and inspected etc), but is run entirely by volunteers. It's the only way to offer an affordable service in the area that it is in. The asc has a long waiting list as we can only take so many children. We could take more if we had more volunteers, but we can only rely on so many people (we still take 36 children per day).

The playscheme operates on a first-come-first-served basis on a set registration day. It's the only way to do it fairly, people can (and do) get someone else to come for them if they can't make it for work reasons. We take 80 children (40am 40pm) and again it's all run by volunteers. In October we turned away around about 20 more children.

Today I overheard people talking about the group at a local soft play. People have been asking if we run a playscheme at spring half term and one of these Mums mentioned that it was a shame that we don't. Another woman in her group launched into a spiel about how she would never send her child because "they're all volunteers, I'd only ever use proper childcare". The Mum who'd mentioned it first quickly said that she knew some of the volunteers had worked in schools (I don't know if she realised I was there or not). The moany one was a bit sarky still, but mainly just kept saying "Oh I didn't know that..." whenever the first lady told her things about us, but was still adamant that volunteers could never be as good as "proper" childcare like the OSC her kids go too.

I'm so pissed off. We work so hard for this. Over the years we've build up good links with the college so we have volunteers who are aiming for careers working with children. The volunteer staff have training and qualifications - last playscheme in there was a retired head teacher, a childminder, a teacher who is on a career break as her children are young, two university students who are both training to be teachers, one of the Dad's who runs the local rugby club (the kids were in their element as he knows the proper rules of the no-touch rugby kit we purchased), two parents who are both hoping to start college in September and a 17-year-old volunteer who used to come to us as a kid and wants to work with children when she leaves school. All gave up their time for nothing, they've all been through all of the relevant checks and all have to have basic training before they start with us (CP, First Aid etc).

It annoys me so much that the £50 per day place along the road with their nice, shiny building are seen as a cut above when their staff are mostly teenagers, their staff turnover is constant and their last inspection report was considerably poorer than ours are seen as better simply because they are "professional".

Sorry for the long, whiny rant. It was bad timing to overhear something as the treasurer and I are just about to go through the fun process of applying for our next lot of funding and next Sunday we're all doing our first aid refresher!

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Sun 10-Jan-16 23:18:08

YNBU. Those 'only' volunteers who that biach was referring to are giving up their time to look after other people's children for no reward

slicedfinger Sun 10-Jan-16 23:18:15

YANBU. Really that is it. YANBU. At all. flowers Good luck with the funding.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Sun 10-Jan-16 23:20:19

It's a common misconception that stuff you pay for is better quality than free stuff. Let the idiots pay their £50s and laugh at them for wasting their money.

rosewithoutthorns Sun 10-Jan-16 23:25:14

YANBU a trillion percent!

I'd rather leave my child with a volunteer group than one of these posh pay £20 an hour for places that pay pittance to their workers who are babies themselves and found going into "childcare" an easy option.

Cheeky up her arse bitch.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Sun 10-Jan-16 23:27:52

Volunteers will provide a better service as you know they're there for no other reason other than loving their job

LalaLyra Sun 10-Jan-16 23:33:29

MrsLeighHalfpenny Its funny you say that, I have found people in the past being wary of us because "What kind of playscheme can you offer for £5 a week?" and thinking the asc must be £15 a day, not a week.

There are perfectly justifiable reasons for not using us. I know a lot of people are put off the playscheme because the queue is massive and there's always people turned away, that's fair enough. The volunteer angle is just a shit one.

thank you for letting me rant!

RB68 Sun 10-Jan-16 23:39:44

Its all perception though isn't it rather than the reality - so this is about how you market yourselves - you need to ensure that posters, information etc has frequently asked questions and expressly addresses the professional/qualification issue. You need to do a bit of PR to ensure that the message gets out - local news etc. How are facilities etc paid for? Usually for insurance purposes they insist on one paid member of senior staff to take any rap and also to organise and manage volunteers.

It sounds like she has never been able to get into the scheme so is justifying her absence from the scheme in this way and "belittling it" to others.

Its hard to face criticism when its based on ignorance but you will not stop it on an individual basis and the way to address it is to market yourselves to ensure the professionalism and commitment is communicated properly more widely. Otherwise it could have a detrimental effect in the long run not only in terms of parents using the facility but also volunteers that help out. Manage your brand basically

fredericofoofoo Sun 10-Jan-16 23:48:35

YANBU You all sound like a lovely bunch of people who care about the children you look after.

Rosewithoutthorn .. I do take exception to your comment about people going into childcare as an 'easy option'. My DD is 19 and in her second year of being a childcare apprentice. She works 40 hours per week for £3.30 an hour and has to do lots of coursework outside of those 40 hours.

She isn't doing it for the money or for an easy life but believes she can make a difference to the lives of the children she has contact with. It can get very frustrating when people say to her "oh you sit around playing with children all day". Yes, they do interact with the children but there is also a lot going on behind the scenes, paperwork, ensuring activities meet guidelines etc to meet the OFSTED rules.

I believe it takes a special sort of person to be a nursery nurse, volunteer or not, and I know that I would not have the patience or temprement to do it day in day out.

LalaLyra Sun 10-Jan-16 23:55:07

We do all of that RB68. I think she's just the type to hear one word and go off on one.

I will re-look at things again, make sure everything is out in the right places. We receive funding from the Lottery, that's public knowledge and it's in every letter/poster/newspaper 'the kids of X did Y these holidays'. We also receive a reduced rate for the hire of the school hall, which is also in the bumf.

We don't have any paid staff. The asc insurance insisted on certain qualifications and a named person who is ultimately on the chopping board. That's me and I'm also the person responsible for the DBS checks etc. The playscheme is insured through the playscheme organisation and they are still relatively used to all volunteer based groups.

It's also a bit Catch 22 - the more places I put the information the more people want spaces and the more people I have to turn away.

I'm trying to remind myself she's not the target market for us. Most of the people we aim at specifically simply couldn't afford the place she uses so I shouldn't let it get to me.

The amusing bit is I only went to help out for one week. I went to the playscheme as a kid. They were struggling when I was at college, but I was adamant - one week only. 15 years later...

BoomBoomsCousin Mon 11-Jan-16 07:08:48

It's one ignorant person. YABU to let it bother you. You run a great program, that is in demand because most peoplr are well aware of how good you are. Don't let one idiot make you feel bad about it.

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