Charity partnership launches to build on Covid-19 volunteering boom

Charity leaders have formed a partnership to build on increasing interest in volunteering to emerge during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Shaping the Future with Volunteering group is being co-chaired by Royal Voluntary Service chief executive Catherine Johnstone and Scouts chief executive Matt Hyde.

Other charities represented include Girlguiding, NSPCC, British Red Cross and St John Ambulance.

The group said: “The extraordinary expansion of volunteering in every village, town and city through the covid 19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity to power-up our civic society for the long-term, enabling everyone to share in its many rewards.”

A total of 18 charities are involved and will focus on priorities including “promoting better understanding and celebrating the power of volunteering”.

It will look to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in volunteering as well as ensuring volunteers are supported.

In addition, the group has a commitment involving a range of organisations in partnerships, “learning from each other and working closely with government, business and other agencies”.

‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a bigger and broader civic society which will build stronger communities,” Johnstone.

“Millions of people have stepped forward during the pandemic for the first time and while supporting others in their hour of need, they have benefited themselves in so many ways.

“I have been humbled by what I have seen through our work with the NHS on the frontline, our volunteers have supported those in great need, often out of their comfort zone, but rising to the challenge.

“In return they found new confidence, a sense of community and belonging and a feel-good-factor which comes from doing something of real value.”

The partnership also includes: Cats Protection, Helpforce, National Trust, Papworth Trust, Rotary, RNLI, Samaritans, Stroke Association, NCT, YHA, Volunteering Matters and The Conservation Volunteers.

Hyde added: “The commitment and kindness of 12 million volunteers has made all the different to life during the pandemic, from those supporting the vaccination programme to the Scout leaders who delivered 3.8 million hours of zoom meetings. Now’s the time to build on that by championing what volunteering offers society.

“Giving our time is good for us, actively improving our well-being by connecting us to something bigger. It’s good for our communities and good for our country.

“That’s why we have come together as major volunteer-involving charities to work together and learn from each other, extending our reach and making a bigger impact in our communities.”

The setting up of the group has been welcomed by NCVO interim CEO Sarah Vibert, who said “we’re now at an important crossroad that will shape the future of volunteering. To secure the incredible legacy of volunteering during the pandemic we must learn the lessons and realise the opportunities it has presented”.

She added: “One of the key ingredients to the successful mobilisation of volunteers during the pandemic has been collaboration. So it is fantastic that 18 of the largest volunteering charities, who between them support hundreds of thousands of volunteers, have committed to working collectively to shape the future of volunteering.”

Decline in volunteer numbers in recent months

Last month it emerged that more than a third of charities had seen a decline in volunteer numbers in recent months.

The Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer found that the surge in interest in volunteering in the initial months of the pandemic had waned this year.

It also found that the nature of volunteering was changing, with charities increasingly looking for people with digital and technical skills to give up their time for good causes. The average age of volunteers is also reducing, the research found.

Also last month, the Scouts announced a recruitment campaign to tackle a drop in volunteer numbers over the last six months. The charity revealed that the number of adult volunteers involved had fallen by 15,000.

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