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‘At Least I Can Do Something’: The Work of Volunteering in a Community Beset by Worklessness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2008

Susan Baines
Reader in Social Policy, Manchester Metropolitan University E-mail:
Irene Hardill
Professor of Economic Geography, Nottingham Trent University E-mail:


The voluntary sector has been mainstreamed into public policy with consequences that include more reliance upon the time, commitment and skills of volunteers. In many policy initiatives to combat social exclusion, volunteering is cast as a form of self-improvement and re-training for the workforce. Qualitative research in a disadvantaged community, however, uncovered the persistence of more traditional forms of volunteering associated with mutual support and identification with the needs of others. Policies intended to broaden the base of the volunteer workforce need to recognise and nurture the intrinsic rewards of volunteering.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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