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Kickstarting a New Volunteer Revolution- new research

England     April 30 2021     Eddy Hogg

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Dr Eddy Hogg, Academic Lead on the England team, this week launched a new report, co-authored with Dr Allison Smith from Royal Voluntary Service, on the impact that volunteering can have on social mobility. On the one hand, we have seen 11.2 million workers furloughed and hundreds of thousands of people newly unemployed. On the other, 12.4 million people have volunteered during the pandemic, 4.6 million of them first time volunteers. Such a focus is therefore hugely timely.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented real challenges to volunteers and volunteer involving organisations, but also presents real opportunities to challenge existing ways of working and existing assumptions about volunteers and volunteering. In the report, Drs Hogg and Smith lay out the case for volunteering having a vital role to play in the Covid-19 recovery, showing the impact it can have on life chances and employment prospects.

The research, which surveyed 1,000 current and recent volunteers from across England in March 2021, found that volunteering was credited with improving job prospects for over half (58%), rising to 73% amongst the youngest volunteers (16-19). Of particular interest was the impact that volunteering can have on people’s career progression throughout their working lives. More than a third (34%) of volunteers in the study aged 16-19, 22% in their twenties and 10% in their thirties report that volunteering helped them get their first job. Once in employment, volunteering supports career progression too, it seems. 23% of working volunteers aged 16-19, 27% in their twenties and 30% in their thirties said that volunteering has helped them get a better job.

Volunteering has far-reaching, positive impacts on personal development too, we found. More than a third (38%) of respondents said that volunteering has improved their confidence (38%) and communication skills (39%), and many volunteers reported that they had gone on to undertake further education and training as a result of their volunteering.

The report sought to provide a clear plan for immediate action to support volunteers and volunteering and to enable voluntary action to play a key role in our recovery from Covid-19. To this end, the report concludes with a four-point Blueprint for Volunteering and Social Mobility, a set of guiding principles for voluntary sector organisations and charities, employers and other enablers:

  1. To find and celebrate the double benefit that volunteering brings both the volunteer and the cause.
  2. To make sure that everyone can experience the benefits of volunteering, particularly under-represented groups who are least likely to engage currently.
  3. To provide clear and specific pathways between volunteering and employment and skills.
  4. To work in partnership, a mutually-invested bond between voluntary sector organisations, businesses and public sector bodies.

The full report can be found here.

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