When volunteering, make sure you know all the ins and outs before you start. Do not be made to do something you do not want to do or are not comfortable with. If you join an organisation to do simple tasks, do not be forced to undertake anything more, even if you have the skills. It is volunteering, it is not paid work. There is no code of conduct as to how organisations treat their volunteers. The committees will always be the same, unless someone actually resigns, but often they are not able to as there is no one to take over. Those who would bully and cajole other volunteers are not caring people. Even the strongest of characters can be brought down by bullying and harassment and a constant barrage of abuse. It is the case with one particular organisation in Northern Ireland, the East Antrim University of the Third Age. Their terms conditions of membership state that they should “treat others with respect”. There is no respect within that organisation. When the victim challenged this, she was removed from the organisation and still they demanded money. The victim is still getting demands to pay their bills. When bullying and harassment didn’t work, they started giving out the victim’s private and personal address so that their solicitors could bully and harass her as well. Once reported to the Charities Commission of Northern Ireland, that should stop but it doesn’t.
The Charities Commission of Northern Ireland stood by and did nothing, despite all the proof in the world that the organisation had in fact tried to take members’ money, did not adhere to the rules of the charitable sector, never tell the members anything, even about a major investment like the sunroom which the members will have to pay for. The Information Commission also stood by and watched, regardless of GDPR. Ditto the Third Age Trust. They told the victim that she had “broken the Members Code of Conduct” yet they would not tell her which rules she had broken. The Third Age Trust in London said they would investigate, and then said it was not an investigation. They said that they hoped the victim would volunteer again one day. She won’t. Except for horse charities. Horses don’t judge or try to take your money. They do not bully.
The victim has volunteered for four organisations since she has been in Northern Ireland and only had one positive experience, that with the Riding for the Disabled in Ballyclare. The girls at the RDA at Moy will not now get the benefit of the victim’s experience and love of horses, thanks to the East Antrim University of the Third Age. Nor will any other voluntary organisation in Northern Ireland. Perhaps experiences with Bransby Horses in England will be different. The signs are that they will.
If this environment is allowed to continue in society, no one will volunteer for anything. The victim will certainly advise against it, unless you are 100% sure the organisation are a bone fide charity and not a business. The East Antrim University of the Third Age is a business. They pay staff to teach, they charge for courses, they have their own premises yet it is not declared on the Annual Return to the Charities Commission. Members are forced to pay for everything so that the building can be maintained and the value of it increase for the benefit of the organisation in which it is registered, yet no one knows which. Some members are paid when it goes against the ethos of the organisation. If they don’t like you or if you challenge them, you won’t get paid even if your counter part teaching the same thing does. Not so with the Upper Bann University of the Third Age. They are above reproach but the victim is not allowed to be a member as she has allegedly broken the “Members Code of Conduct”. There is no proof. There is just a stone wall. As a journalist, the victim will be investigating further and writing about this in relevant magazines and journals