Ever since I have been involved in The Well, we have closed for all of the Christmas holidays – normally for a couple of days before Christmas and into the New Year. When Christmas falls mid-week, as it does this year, it means we close for two weeks.
I feel the volunteers deserve a proper break and the opportunity to be with their families, and I’ve never once felt guilty about it . . . . . until this year.
This year for the first time I am worried about some of our service users who depend on us to help them with job searches. If they don’t do them online, they face sanctions and weeks /months with no income. We are encouraging them to go to the library and try and do them there, some will manage that – but what about those who can’t read and write English? Or those who have no clue how to use a computer? Who is going to fill in their books for them? There is no evidence that the Job Centre will accept the exceptional circumstances and difficulties that our service users will face – outwith the public holidays.
Is this what the “Big Society” now means, that the hardworking third sector feels guilty for taking a holiday?