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Welfare and Volunteering

Posted: 20/4/2011

Letter Irish Times 20th April 2011

Barriers to Volunteering

Madam, – Yvonne McKenna (April 5th) drew attention to a perceived misconception that those claiming welfare payments are not permitted to volunteer.

The Voluntary Work Option permits jobseekers who engage in voluntary work within the State to engage in such work without it affecting their entitlements. The aims of the Voluntary Work Option are: to encourage voluntary organisations to involve jobseekers to the greatest extent possible in their existing activities by creating new opportunities for voluntary work; and to inform jobseekers of their freedom to involve themselves in voluntary work and to encourage them to do so.

To that end, the Department reminded staff, in February last, of the aims of the Voluntary Work Option and the criteria to be used in assessing applications. Examples of voluntary work in which jobseekers may engage include helping the sick, elderly or persons with a disability or assisting youth clubs, church groups, sports groups, cultural organisations and local resident associations. Jobseekers must continue to satisfy the statutory conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work.

Details are at – Yours, etc,

NIAMH FITZGERALD, Press Officer, Department of Social Protection, Store Street, Dublin 1.

Dept. of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government