“Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds”
Bill Clinton, former President of America
Whilst many people consider volunteering in Norfolk to be a crucial element of life, the truth is that fewer and fewer people in the UK are taking part.
Volunteering in Norfolk: National Trends
Recent national research (Community Life Survey 2021/22) confirms:
- The steady decline in the number of volunteers, year on year since 2013/14 (apart from a short-lived peak in response to the COVID pandemic).
- Over the last 9 years the number of people aged 16 years or over who have volunteered at least once a year has dropped from 70% to 55% of the population.
- Those who volunteer at least once a month has dropped from 44% to 34% of the population.
- Both of these have seen the sharpest decline (7%) in the last year.
The complex strains and stresses created by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on VCSE organisations’ services, staff, volunteers, resources and ways of working. As the waters of the pandemic recede, we are left looking at a very different landscape –
- The age, availability, motivations and interest profile of volunteers has changed
- Equitable and inclusive practices are ever more important
- Technology-based communications and working practices have become the new normal but can alienate volunteers who want social contact
- Impromptu, informal and more localised forms of volunteering have increased
- The cost of living crisis impacts directly on many VCSE service users, pushing up the quantity and urgency of demand, and also impacts on the resources, staff and volunteers of those VCSE organisations
- Changes to the health and care system and the requirements of statutory bodies increase demand for volunteers
In monetary terms, translating the hours donated into equivalent hourly rates (calculated on the basis of the National Living Wage, i.e. £9.50 per hour, and using a conservative estimate of hours worked) the fall in volunteer time represents a £31M reduction for Norfolk over the last 9 years (from £105 M in 2013/14 to £74M in 2021/22).
Voluntary Norfolk will shortly be circulating a discussion paper with suggested priorities and objectives for the next three years to address this volunteer crisis. Contribute your thoughts.
To receive a copy email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out https://www.ecnorfolk.org.uk/working-with-volunteers/ . Responses by 1st May 2023.