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The Rise of Amateurisation and why SignCo.io is important

Nicky Evans • Dec 18, 2019 • 3 min read


Three signs on fence saying "don't give up" "you are not alone" and "you matter"
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The whole thread reads:

If you’re a qualified teacher, medical support staff, a paid social care giver… they’re coming for you. If you choose not to stand by other trained professionals in your community, don’t be surprised when there’s no one left to support you when they give your job to volunteers.

Everyone in any kind of paid social or community support role should be absolutely terrified of amateurisation. If you casually accept volunteers taking over community services of any kind, you are ultimately accepting they will take over them all.

Good people are being lied to. Communities are paying for social services and then being expected to deliver them themselves. Volunteer fatigue is very real, and thousands are losing their jobs. A postcode lottery of essential services has already been established.

The next time you think it’s “cute” that the community has a box of books on a stick called a “library”, or the post office is run by the local pensioners, or the day care centre is run by the church, think on how your community actually deserves what it paid for in its taxes.

When you think “we’re doing fine” as you accept the march of amateurisation, think of all the communities where people are making a choice between heating and eating and can’t volunteer to deliver essential services. Do they not deserve them? That’s what you’re telling them.

Don’t accept your essential and statutory services being handed over to unsustainable volunteer cliques. Stand up for all the communities who could never afford to carry this burden, and for all the people who shouldn’t have to. Never forget that this is just the start.

If you’ve never given much thought to what happens when a community accepts the march of amateurisation, I totally get it. That’s what They want. They want you to think it’s “cute” and that it somehow empowers you. It’s doesn’t. It bleeds you dry and hollows out your community.

What does it really look like when something is handed over and “saved” by the community? It looks like this. Every year the burden grows ever greater and the communities who suffer the most are the ones already struggling.

-- V for Volunteer — a dystopian reality

This is not news to British Sign Language(BSL)/English interpreters, who have been battling against attempts to de-professionalise our service for over a decade. Attempts by Access to Work (a fund from the Department of Work & Pensions) to bring in Communication Support Workers (CSWs) instead of allowing Deaf people to book qualified interpreters and restricting their budgets is perhaps the starkest example of this.

It is essential that we stand together and fight for our profession and the right for Deaf people to access high quality communication support.

SignCo.io exists to challenge the current procurement model and show that together we, alongside the Deaf community, can take back control of the services our communities needs. We (Deaf people and interpreters) are the experts and have the opportunity to change the way access is provided and promote best practice.

Join us! If you are Deaf or an interpreter and live or work in the Merseyside area, fill out this form to become a member.

If you want to support our work, sign up to our newsletter and keep up to date with our work. There will be opportunities for others to join as investor members in the near future.