When you work in the public sector as I do, you cannot help but come across some amazing people. I don’t mean those people who work as nurses, doctors, therapists, social workers even managers and who as many do carry on working after others have gone home, who go that extra mile. No I mean people who, on top of their usual lives actually do things for others because they want to, not because it is their job, but because of a sense that they can and should do more for others. Around us there are people who help out in schools, hospitals, charity shops, take people places, visit the elderly and disabled or who sit on committees and make a difference to the way those with jobs view the people they are there to support.
In my current job I come across many people who work hard but who aren’t paid for that work. Some do so knowing that they are already financially secure, that they have already had their careers or that they want to give something back for an experience or event that changed them. Generally these people do this work because they want to, not because anyone has told them it might be a good idea.
The voluntary sector doesn’t actually come for free. Charities need organising, charity shops pay rent, and those organisations which appear to function through good will actually needs people to recruit the volunteers, train them, galvanise them and maybe pay expenses. They need to check people working (even free of charge) with the vulnerable have suitable training and support. Voluntary organisations need premises to operate out of and they need to be able to provide services for others. None of this is free.
Good will is a valuable comodity, and people who expect others to provide services using it do well to remember that. Good will doesn’t come completely free, there is a cost. The big society is made up of good will, but if you think it is something you can have in lou of something that should be paid for then you are mistaken.
David Cameron would do well to remember that!