Tens of thousands of people who became excited by the new government’s ‘Big Society’ plans to run the country on volunteer labour are this week unsure what exactly it is they are meant to be doing, who they should be signing up with, and when it is they will be able to take over the running of the country.
‘I was first in line for this whole volunteering to do stuff thing,’ said Valerie Plank of Surrey. ‘But no one has told me what to do. I thought there would be a signing-up board, like when people joined the army to fight in the war. But now I’m not feeling so excited any more. I might join the local stitch’n’bitch instead.’
Timothy Notts from Canterbury agrees. ‘I had plans to get involved at the local hospital,’ he said. ‘I was all ready to try my hand at open-heart surgery and shit. But no sign of so much as a scapel.’
Up and down the country there are signs of discontent among the once eager hordes of would-be volunteers. Gerald Johnson was keen to volunteer at his local secondary school to try his hand at being Assistant Principal (Curriculum and Continuing Professional Development) but the school said they didn’t need him. ‘Once you get the volunteers on board you’ve got to make them feel wanted. You’ve got to make them feel they’re doing something important. Instead we’ve got this situation where people who thought they would be in charge of their local streetworks department are still gazing in despair at the potholes outside their homes.’
Another volunteer called ‘Mad Mike Naylor’ was turned away from the prison where his brothers lived and told they didn’t need anyone to look after all the keys. Now there are fears that the government plans may fail if the enthusiasm of volunteers can’t be maintained. ‘It’s hard enough getting people to do these jobs when you pay them,’ said Gerald Johnson. ‘Frankly if they’re offering to do it for free you shouldn’t have them sitting around kicking their heels. Let them loose Prime Minister! Let them run free!’
A government spokesman had nothing at all to say on the matter as he was waiting for a volunteer to turn up and do it for him.