NEW RULES COULD STOP VOL­UN­TEERS JOIN­ING IN COM­MU­NITY AC­TIV­I­TIES

▶ Peo­ple wish­ing to take part are now re­quired to reg­is­ter with Dubai’s Com­mu­nity and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity

The National - News - - EMIRATES NEWS - NICK WEB­STER Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Ramola Tal­war Badam

A new law to reg­u­late vol­un­teer­ing could dis­suade peo­ple from want­ing to help out in their com­mu­ni­ties be­cause of con­fu­sion over how the rules will be im­ple­mented.

Af­ter an an­nounce­ment by the Dubai Gov­ern­ment on Sun­day, the Com­mu­nity and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity must now be con­tacted be­fore any vol­un­teer­ing pro­gramme is com­menced. It has thrown into doubt the fu­ture work of vol­un­teers who give up their time to help causes that are under-re­sourced and re­quire the as­sis­tance of kind-hearted com­mu­nity mem­bers.

An­i­mal welfare is one area to have greatly ben­e­fited from a co-or­di­nated pro­gramme in Abu Dhabi, which is not sub­ject to the new laws.

Dr Su­san Aylott works with An­i­mal Welfare Abu Dhabi – a group of vol­un­teers and vets who run feed­ing sta­tions and who have de­vel­oped a wide­spread trap, neuter and re­lease pro­gramme in the cap­i­tal.

“It looks as though no one can vol­un­teer in Dubai un­less you are an or­gan­ised char­ity,” she said.

Dr Aylott said it was un­clear where vol­un­teer groups now stood and if the law also ap­plied to or­gan­ised com­mu­nity events, such as clean-ups.

“Peo­ple will want to know if they can still do­nate their time with friends for a good cause, and if not what they have to do to com­ply with the new rules.”

In fu­ture, vol­un­teers in Dubai will have to in­form the CDA ahead of any vol­un­tary work, carry of­fi­cial ID cards and keep records of their ac­tiv­i­ties.

Any com­plaints or lit­i­ga­tion re­lated to the vol­un­teer­ing agree­ment will be over­seen by a spe­cial com­mit­tee.

Sev­eral an­i­mal welfare groups in Dubai rely heav­ily on vol­un­teers to run their ser­vices, so they will want clar­ity on what vol­un­teers have to do to com­ply with the new rules.

“We’ve re­cently been called in to help with sit­u­a­tions in Sharjah and Dubai, so this will have mas­sive im­pli­ca­tions on how we deal with things in the fu­ture,” Dr Aylott said.

“Awad is look­ing at set­ting up an­other field clinic to ster­ilise and treat all the an­i­mals that need help. A mo­bile unit would help us to cover a wider area.

“If this is just for reg­is­tered char­i­ties and their vol­un­teers to li­cense or­gan­i­sa­tions then fair enough, but this would make it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to do good in their com­mu­nity.

“The whole idea about a com­mu­nity ven­ture is based around vol­un­teer­ing, and this seems to be re­strict­ing that.

“Vol­un­teers will want to know what the po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions are be­fore they get in­volved with a project.”

A so­cial worker who has taken part in pro­grammes or­gan­ised with the con­sulate to sup­port labour­ers in Dubai said the rules ap­peared to be an ex­ten­sion of the char­ity law that came into ef­fect in 2016.

“It ap­pears to be a re­fram­ing of the rules that came into ef­fect three years ago that stated that a char­ity must be reg­is­tered with the CDA or with an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is reg­is­tered with the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

The law was in­tro­duced to en­sure only le­git­i­mate fundrais­ing and char­ity work was be­ing car­ried out. The aid worker said the vol­un­teer law was prob­a­bly be­ing im­ple­mented for the same rea­son.

He said he had wit­nessed, first-hand, oc­ca­sions where vol­un­teers had mis­used an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s name.

“This move could be be­cause they [the gov­ern­ment] re­ceived sim­i­lar com­plaints. Some­times a per­son may seek to ex­ploit the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s name or raise funds with­out be­ing au­tho­rised.

“A per­son may not be a vol­un­teer but a guest at an event and then try to pass that off as vol­un­teer work.

“With a card to iden­tify vol­un­teers, this makes it pos­si­ble to check that the per­son is in­deed a le­git­i­mate vol­un­teer.”

We’ve been called in to help with sit­u­a­tions in Sharjah and Dubai, so this will have mas­sive im­pli­ca­tions DR SU­SAN AYLOTT An­i­mal Welfare Abu Dhabi

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