Volunteers unite

October 11, 2002

Frank Furedi presents two types of volunteering: traditional and instrumental ("For the greater good of my CV", THES , September ). He says government-driven volunteering to encourage social re-engagement is instrumental and emphasises the self-interest of such volunteers; traditional volunteering on the other hand is altruistic. Volunteers have always derived personal benefit from their work. The motives behind traditional charity work are equally questionable as instrumental volunteering. How much traditional voluntary work is patronising and moralistic?

Westminster University Business School runs a volunteering module that Furedi would classify as instrumental. But it offers students an opportunity to experience the joy of altruism. Volunteers engage with the community and are given a context in which to become reflective learners and develop skills that they can value as much as employers.

Karen Powell-Williams
University of Westminster

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