By Andrew Holt

New figures released today show a sharp rise in volunteering and that people are actively coming together to drive improvements in their communities, minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd said today.

The Official Statistics published for the first time by the Cabinet Office show that the proportion of people volunteering at least once a year has now increased from 65% in 2010-11 to 71% in 2012, with an even bigger increase in the proportion of people volunteering regularly.

This equates to millions more people volunteering across the country – showing that the cultural change is not limited to the 120,000 who volunteered to make the Olympics a success.

Significantly, this reverses the steady decline in volunteering seen since 2005.

The survey also reveals:

People are still giving generously to charity, with 74% making donations in 2012, compared with 72% in 2010.

55% reported a very strong sense of belonging to Britain, an increase from 51% in 2010.

A strong sense of community spirit, with 79% of people reporting they belong strongly to their neighbourhood.

87% of people report that their local area is one where people from different backgrounds get along well together.

Nearly half of people want to be more involved in local decisions, a significant increase from 2010.

Ministers believe that the figures are a vindication of their Big Society agenda to support people to get more involved in their communities.

The Government has backed a number of initiatives such as National Citizen Service for 16 and 17 year olds and the Olympic volunteering legacy programme Join In to engage a new generation in volunteering and civic engagement.

The statistics come on the same day the Prime Minister is launching a new drive to recruit one million volunteers to support people with dementia, in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Prime Minister said: “We all want a bigger, stronger society where people do their bit and that’s why I am pleased that the Community Life Survey shows we are making progress. The figures show that millions more people are volunteering and that the British people remain incredibly generous with charitable giving.

“We want to build on this success and make it easier for people who want to get involved. That’s why I am proud to be launching the effort today to get one million new volunteers trained to support people with dementia.”

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said: “These figures show a very positive picture of how well Britain has responded to tough times. We should take pride that so many people have helped reverse the decline in volunteering.

“London 2012 showed what we can achieve through volunteering and we are determined to build on the inspiration of the games.”

Programmes which the Government is backing to encourage volunteering and social action include:

National Citizen Service - In 2011, over 8,000 young people took part in NCS and in 2012, we expect the programme will have trebled in size, with 26,000 young people taking part. This equates to 700,000 hours of social action completed.

Join in, the Olympic legacy volunteering programme, delivered over 6,000 events across the UK, with over 300,000 people taking part.

Through the Social Action Fund the Government has supported 40 charities with more than £20m over two years so that they can recruit more volunteers. So far, over 100,000 volunteers have been recruited with 500,000 expected by Autumn 2013.

The Government is investing an additional £40m to support some of the most promising initiatives that use social action to help solve some of the thorniest social issues. The first of which will help recruit one million new volunteers to become ‘dementia friends’ bringing communities and individuals together to take responsibility in solving a critical problem.

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