Volunteers under attack when helping others

First there was the volunteer coast-guard who was dismissed for failing to follow procedures before scrambling down off the edge of a cliff to rescue a girl who was hanging on by her finger nails. Apparently he should first have found a rope and a secure point to which to attach the rope. Clearly there was not time.

Then there was a police officer who dived into a fast-flowing river to rescue a motorist who was trapped in a vehicle and was reprimanded, guess what, for not following procedures. That, if I remember rightly, would have involved summoning specialist units.

Today The Times reports threats of prosecution made by police to two volunteers who, for four years, have been providing meals for homeless people outside Dorchester Library twice a week. In order, it is said, to protect these homeless people from food poisoning the local council want the volunteers to undergo hygiene training. What does the council think happens during the rest of the week, especially if these homeless people find themselves picking over the contents of waste bins?

Of course not all volunteers are compelled to undergo training. But think of all the potential trouble that can follow the birth of a child; if only the powers that be could insist that parents attended parenting courses twelve months before the birth of their first child; that would make far more sense than bullying these other volunteers. If cliff rescuers and police officers and feeders of the homeless are to follow procedures how much more important is it for parents to do so.

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