Vocational and voluntary don’t fit the #census2011

Just a quick note for posterity to say I didn’t seem to fit the Census questions; even having phoned their helpline, I’m not completely happy.

The problems started for me on Q31 – Have you ever worked?
Yes of course I have; I still do!
But I’ve not earnt a wage since 1997 when I resigned from my Duty Managers role at The Look Out following maternity leave.

The lady on the phone said to list 1997, but then write about what I currently do from Q34. This is the bit that leaves me feeling most unhappy. But it’s what we were told to do.

Today I work we reckoned 49+ hours a week, for God.
Either in parish ministry as a Reader (unpaid), or as a Diocesan Trustee of Mothers’ Union (for which I’m not allowed by law to earn a wage). So I’m not an employee, self-employed, or freelance (Q33) so I couldn’t tick anything.

My full or specific job title (Q34) – Reader (Lay Minister) – no room to include my charity role.

I briefly described my main job (Q35) as “Preaching, Teaching, Funerals” – they are things I’m doing most of at present but they don’t really scratch the surface or cover the amounts of admin involved in looking after ‘occasional offices’.

I assumed (unlike The Vicars Wife) that my “employer” (Q37) was was the Church of England so I listed the main activities as ‘Worshipping God, Caring for Parishoners, Evangelism’ and then listed the name of organsation (Q38) as St. Peter’s Church, Church of England.

For those of us who are committed to full-time voluntary, vocational ministry, what problems did you face with the form?

And surely, since there is such a need for voluntary work given the economic situation and the requirements of “Big Society”, aren’t the government interested in the voluntary work undertaken in this country?


One comment

  1. I totally agreee- the lack of recognition that it is volunteers who keep our communitiees afloat, many of whom, like you, give most of their waki ng hours to unpaid but essential tasks is …worrying? frustrating? blinkered???….. then there are those who work full or part-time jobs and then the equivalent of another job in a voluntary capacity.

    The church is not much better at recognising this – see this weeks (last week’s) Church Times and the research on how SSM’s are (not) valued.


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