Volunteering throws up all kinds of issues

Here’s a new one on me – a potential volunteer turned down because he had previously vomited at an event the organisation put on.

The full story is here – do read the comments too, as it’s a decent discussion of the situation, without stooping to making fun of the situation.

Ok, so I already made fun of the situation in my title. But I think there are some issues here worth focussing on.

Firstly, not taking on a volunteer because of something s/he has done previously. I think that some people outside the volunteering world’s initial reaction would be that this should never happen. Actually this isn’t true. Decisions do need to be made based on a person’s suitability, and this will of course include prior conduct where relevant. There are the obvious cases such as certain criminal convictions. It’s also the reason people take up references.

However… This has to be kept in context. Puking and running was not very polite, but should that have stopped him from volunteering?

Secondly, the way this person was excluded (publicly thrown out) was not really excusable. We’re only getting one side of the story here, but it appears that there wasn’t even an opportunity for the individual to explain what happened – for all they knew he could have been extremely ill and gone straight to the hospital.

Any opinions on this?

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