The world has moved on somewhat since my days as a practitioner since by and large in those days, voluntary sector organisations were adding to the work of statutory organisations, rather than replacing them or being contracted to deliver their objectives. They had a greater freedom to operate in the ways they thought fit but they were vulnerable to feeling ignored or used by statutory organisations. It was always striking to me for example, that when faced with an alcoholic, a probation officer’s immediate assumption would often be that the individual should be referred to a voluntary sector alcohol project for treatment. This would not be affected by the thought that the probation officer had received two years’ professional training including training in addiction problems, whilst the alcohol project was staffed by well meaning volunteers or perhaps an untrained lead worker.
Mind you, I am using the term ‘voluntary organisations’ loosely here. In my time in Milton Keynes, there was a very obvious divide between larger often national voluntary organisations – such as NSPCC or the FWA for whom I had been working – and the locally managed groups that depended on local management committees and often no more than a couple of staff.