Citizenship – What does it mean to be a citizen?
Being a citizen normally provides some rights such as the right to vote, the right to live in the state and the right to certain protection. We need to remember that these rights also come with responsibilities. We may have the right to freedom of speech but we are responsible for not abusing that freedom by, for example, shouting, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” when there isn’t a fire as it might cause panic and result in harm.
This is part of the social contract that we have. This is not a legal contract written down anywhere but society tells us that we should give up our seat on the bus/train when someone who might need that seat more than us boards. We know that we should not play our music too loud so that it does not disturb others. We know that we should queue so that the people who arrived first are seen first.
We receive many benefits from the state and the social contract expects us to give back to the state too. We do this through paying taxes which are required by law but we can also do this voluntarily. At this time of year we are likely to see advertisements on television asking us to donate £X per month for a particular charity. We wear Christmas jumpers and make a donation to charity.
What do the abbreviations ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA have in common?
They all have the letter A which stands for Accountants and they all have the letter C which stands for Chartered. What is this Charter? It’s a piece of paper signed by the Queen (or King if the organisation is a bit older) allowing the organisation to operate. Like citizenship, the charter provides rights and responsibilities. The right to operate is matched with the responsibility to act in the public interest. This means preparing a set of accounts which show a true and fair view of the business so that the users of the accounts can make the right decisions. It means providing advice to business so that they pay the appropriate amount of tax.
Contributing to society is in the DNA of an accountant.
We can also contribute to society by giving time as well as money. If you participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme when you were at school then you will have provided some sort of service to society, perhaps by picking up litter in your local area or spending time at a residential home. But now that you are older do you still give up your time?
Let’s look at the staff at Accountancy Learning
We are a small team but we contribute to society in a variety of ways.
- Running to raise funds for charity (Simon’s favourite voluntary activity!)
- Bake sales to raise funds for charity.
- One of us is a cub scout leader giving up her time each week to develop other people’s children. And linked with this, another of us is treasurer for his children’s scout group.
- As accountants we are easy candidates to be treasurers. In addition to this scout group, between us we are also treasurers for a school PTA, a group that manages the recreational facilities of a town and a social club.
- One of us has adopted a child.
- One of us is a Royal Air Force reserve officer.
- A couple of us volunteer to support accountants in the South West.
- One of us has led a group of volunteers to Nicaragua to help rebuild a school damaged by hurricanes.
- One of us has spent time decorating a school for disabled children.
We know that some of our students are also scout leaders, coach sport teams and volunteer with organisations such as Young Farmers and there is probably many more examples.
Some of our students’ employers also contribute to society with tree planting, beach cleans, supporting numeracy in schools, sponsorships and a variety of events to raise funds.
Why do we do this?
Our lives are already so busy so why do we give up our time for other people? Because volunteering is so rewarding. If you have not done any volunteering yet, why not give it a go? If there is some activity that you are already passionate about then, helping out will increase your enjoyment and you’ll know that you are paying back society for your citizenship.
Here’s a short YouTube video to give you some ideas on how you could get started as a volunteer:
Written by Ros Aala