Developing a National Volunteer Passporting Scheme

Volunteering Matters and NCVO are working in partnership to develop recommendations for a National Volunteer Passporting Scheme. Over the next six weeks we’ll engage with volunteer involving organisations, volunteer managers and volunteers. This will be to develop practical recommendations for Number 10 and the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). These recommendations will set out what would be needed to make this scheme effective and successful.

Your insights and ideas will be vital to make sure these recommendations support volunteers, charities and communities. There are several ways to contribute to this work, which are described at the end of this blog.

A national scheme  

The idea of a passporting system for volunteers isn’t newThere are a number of local and regional schemes in operation, some more successful than others. Broadly, a passport system would allow volunteers and organisations to:

  • register on one portal
  • record
    • skills
    • criminal record checks
    • activities
  •  match volunteer capacity with local need.  

In September 2020, Danny Kruger MP wrote a significant report for the government: ‘Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant. The report recommended the government develop a national system for a volunteer passport which can be used across different organisations and sectors.  

He suggested the system should involve a single process for identity and criminal records checks. It would also provide the option to allow organisations to search for volunteers, and to improve the matching of supply and demand 

Opportunities and barriers 

An effective national passporting system could bring a range of opportunities and benefits. If managed well, it could help organisations to find, recruit and onboard volunteers more efficientlyA smoother process overall could also help to make sure volunteers can give their time quickly, which could help to maintain motivation and engagement.  

A coordinated system could also help volunteers to engage with different organisations, and activities, either at the same time or one after another. A centralised record of their activities, training and skills development would be a great benefit for many volunteers.  

For any of these benefits to be realised, the system would need to get the basics right. It’ll need to:  

  • be quick and easy to use for both volunteers and for organisations 
  • keep individuals’ data safe and secure 
  • be inclusive of all volunteers across communities 
  • complement rather than seek to replace existing volunteer management and engagement 
  • be managed independently and not for profit. 

While a passporting scheme could make volunteering easier for both organisations and volunteers, were clear that it won’t necessarily generate capacity for volunteering in areas where this doesnt exist. 

Have your say

Itimportant any passporting initiative is set up on the expertise and experience of volunteers, volunteer managers and volunteer involving organisations. There are two ways to get involved. 

1. To contribute to the first stage of this work, wed like to know:  

  • What do you think a national volunteering passport scheme needs to do to be useful?  
  • Would you engage with a national system, and why? This could be as a volunteer, an organisation or group, or from both perspectives.  
  • What challenges and opportunities do you see for a national scheme, and do you have any solutions or suggestions to overcome or build on these? 

Please email Catherine Goodall before 5 March 2021 with your answers to the above questions, or if you have examples or evidence to share. This could include examples of where a local or regional passporting system has been carried out, where its working well, or where a process has experienced difficulties or failed.

Your contributions will help us to inform the design of the system, and to help to make it effective and useful for all organisations and volunteers.  

2. We’re hosting an online event to discuss this at 2.00-3.30pm on 11 March 2021 on Zoom. During this event:

  • We’ll explore the emerging findings and potential draft recommendations to government for a national passporting system.
  • This session will be solution-focused, exploring your insights and ideas. We’re keen to hear from volunteer involving organisations, volunteer centres and volunteer managers.
  • For any questions email us. Please sign up to this event by 5 March 2021.  
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Catherine Goodall is a senior policy officer at NCVO, working primarily on public services policy. She has a background in research and practice, working with local authorities and universities to drive service improvement and facilitating participatory action research.

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