New code of conduct established for Edinburgh's Festivals

Edinburgh has devised a code of conduct for volunteering at its world-famous festivals and events.

In an effort to promote best practice across the city, and to support the city’s volunteers and festivals, the Code of Conduct which has been a collaborative process led by the Council with input from Festivals Edinburgh, Trade Unions, Volunteer Edinburgh, Volunteer Scotland  and  will be recommended for inclusion within Council policy and will be available for events organisers to download.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “As the world’s leading festival city, Edinburgh offers some of the most sought after volunteering opportunities available. They provide people with the chance to be part of the beating heart of Edinburgh’s festival celebrations in August as well as at Hogmanay, and are proven to help individuals develop incredible career and social skills, meet new friends and build a stronger relationship with the city.

“Because of this, we recognise we have a responsibility as the Festival City to promote best practice. We also want to ensure our festivals provide positive experiences for all who take part. That is why we have worked with relevant partners and festival bodies to develop this draft set of guidelines, which set out a standard we hope and encourage festival and events organisers and others to adopt.”

The new 10-point guidelines were developed with input from festivals and welcomed by members of the Culture and Communities Committee this week (Tuesday 19 July), one year on from the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh’s festivals which were some of the busiest and most successful on record. 

The code requests that:

  1. Volunteers should give of their time freely, and not through compulsion;
  2. Volunteers are unpaid roles but volunteers should receive reasonable out of pocket expenses;
  3. Volunteer roles should be genuinely additional roles, and not replace paid positions, nor the positions of any paid staff involved in an industrial dispute;
  4. Volunteering roles should benefit the individual volunteer as well as the organisation involved;
  5. Volunteers should be clear about their roles and responsibilities and be provided with a role description outlining key elements of the role;
  6. Volunteers should have access to appropriate training and development and an appropriately trained named contact to provide the necessary support for their role;
  7. Volunteers should have opportunities to contribute to volunteering policies and procedures through feedback;
  8. Volunteers should have access to a mechanism to deal with any grievances that they may have;
  9. Organisations should take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure volunteers’ health, safety and welfare while volunteering; and
  10. Organisations should endeavour to involve volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities and ensure volunteering opportunities are as accessible as possible.

The guidelines were developed following a motion from Councillor Staniforth which specifically requested guidelines on the use of volunteers to be applied to the Council’s procurement contracts. A question on the use of volunteers at Festivals and Events will now also be included within the evaluation process as part of a question on staffing structures, subject to the agreement of Full Council. In this way, bidders’ commitment to the Council’s policy on the use of volunteers can be demonstrated and scored as part of the overall procurement process.


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