Kickstarting a volunteer revolution.
Rebecca Kennelly, Director of Volunteering, Royal Voluntary Service
Giving your time is perhaps the most generous gift you can give. Whether it's supporting people to age better, helping the NHS or volunteering to support something completely different by working together we can affect positive, tangible change.
And that's why Royal Voluntary Service is on a mission to inspire everyone in Britain to consider volunteering as part of who they are and how they choose to live their lives.
To help us on our mission, we recently worked with researchers at CASS Business School to explore the British public's attitudes towards volunteering, honing on what can be learned from the mind-set of first-time volunteers.
Most positively, the First Timers: Kickstarting a Volunteering Revolution report found, in the last year alone, the equivalent of 1.3 million new volunteers stepped forward to gift their time. A key motivator for these first-timers was to respond to urgent social needs, with nearly one quarter saying their decision was influenced by cuts to community projects and local services.
However, the choice to volunteer was not solely altruistic, with the study suggesting organisations also need to appeal to personal motivations. Indeed, first-timers cited meeting people and making friends (36%) and simply to have fun (30%) as significant factors to give their time.
The report went into investigate barriers to volunteering, particularly amongst those who have never been involved before, with the main hurdles being work commitments (40%), children and home responsibilities (20%) or just never have thought about it (20%). It also made a series of recommendations for organisations reaching out to volunteers, including; making it easier for people to get involved, developing more flexible and micro opportunities and reinforcing the many health and wellbeing benefits of volunteering.
At Royal Voluntary Service we are working to grow newer forms of volunteering including creating opportunities to micro volunteer. We also actively encourage volunteers to bring their children with them - making it that little bit easier for parents, carers and grandparents to give their time.
In addition, we are making volunteering a more open, two-way process. We believe volunteers need space to express something of themselves through their volunteering and have seen an emergence of volunteers who want to be more creative and lead the development of local activities rather than just filling an already structured role.
The need for more volunteers in society is in no doubt, yet in the past, the benefits of volunteering have been disproportionately enjoyed by those for higher socioeconomic groups. To maximise the volunteer opportunity, we need to help people of all ages and backgrounds to be able to integrate volunteering into their everyday life and benefit from the experience.
Royal Voluntary Service
Beck Court, Cardiff Gate Business Park, Cardiff, CF23 8RP.
t: 0330 555 0310