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Volunteers’ Week 2021: Charities urge everyone to take the time to say thanks to volunteers

With less than one month to go until Volunteers’ Week 2021, taking place 1-7 June, charities around the UK are encouraged to take the time to say thank you to all volunteers.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual campaign, entering its 37th year, which sees charities, voluntary groups, social organisations, and volunteers themselves come together to recognise the incredible impact that volunteering has in UK communities.

This year’s theme is ‘A time to say thanks’ – recognising that during an exceptionally difficult year due to the coronavirus pandemic, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to volunteer and made a huge difference to people and their communities every day – just as they do every year.

Each day of Volunteers’ Week 2021 will focus on a different theme of volunteering to ensure we recognise the impact that different types of volunteering have played in communities across the UK in the last 12 months. This will include themes such as youth volunteering, employer supported volunteering and environmental volunteering. Each day is a chance to take the time to say thank you to volunteers across the UK – and the coordinators are calling for all charities and volunteers to get involved.

Every year hundreds of events, both online and in-person, take place to celebrate Volunteers’ Week and the huge range of ways in which volunteers give their time. This year will be no different. A wide variety of activities will be happening across the country including The Big Lunch. This moveable feast is an opportunity for volunteers to come together online at their doorstep or in a park, guidelines permitting, to celebrate community connections and share volunteering experiences. You can find out more about how to get involved and get resources to plan your own thank-you on the Volunteers’ Week website.

In communities, the pandemic response has seen volunteers coming together to support wherever they can - this can be seen in the 400,000 active volunteers who were signed up by the NHS Volunteer Responders. Nationally, volunteering contributes positively to the UK economy, estimated at £18.2 billion - or almost 1% of GDP - in 2017-18.

Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which coordinates Volunteers’ Week in England, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is about recognising all of those who have continued delivering vital work as volunteers over the past 12 months, acknowledging the huge number of first-time volunteers in communities around the country, and also saying thank you to all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of the pandemic.

Volunteers are always working at the heart of every UK community. It is hard to overstate the incredible impact they have made during an incredibly challenging year. The pandemic has rightly raised the profile of volunteering and more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by the amazing volunteers across the UK. We must ensure this recognition continues. That is why, on this 37th annual Volunteers’ Week, it’s time to say: thank you volunteers!”

Denise Hayward, chief executive at Volunteer Now, which coordinates Volunteers’ Week in Northern Ireland, commented:

“Volunteers Week 2021 is a great opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ to all of those existing and new volunteers who have supported the covid response throughout the year. We also want to thank all of those volunteers who are patiently waiting to get back to their face-to-face roles and those who have stopped and started throughout the year in line with the government guidance. As we move through the recovery plan, I hope that we will all be able to safely, embrace volunteering within the new environment to continue to support people and the causes we care about.”

Alan Stevenson, interim CEO at Volunteer Scotland, which coordinates Volunteers’ Week in Scotland, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is a time to thank all of the volunteers in the UK, for the support and services they provide each year. The pandemic has changed volunteering with many more of us helping others within our local neighbourhood than ever before, so taking the time to recognise and thank them for this critical contribution and connection to the most vulnerable in our society is essential. In the last year, countless volunteering programmes have paused, we hope not closed, so this year it is especially important to also recognise those who have been unable to volunteer, or volunteer as regularly, or those who may be anxious about resuming. Let’s celebrate them and look forward to their full return."

Ruth Marks, chief executive at Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), which coordinates Volunteers’ Week in Wales, commented:

“Volunteering always makes a difference – whether it is to a person, a family, the community or the world. If you were able to volunteer during the pandemic you will have made the world of difference.If you were not able to volunteer last year - you will be welcomed back with open arms. Thank you to everyone who commits their time and energy as a volunteer.”

Natashia Davies, National Senior Programme Lead for Volunteering at NHS Health Education England, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is our chance to say thank you after an incredibly difficult year. Hundreds of thousands of people have stepped forward to support our NHS through voluntary action. This Volunteers’ Week we will showcase some of the amazing things these volunteers have supported us to do during the pandemic, and say to our regular volunteers who have had to take some time out temporarily to stay safe - we can’t wait to have you back!”

Dave Cliffe, Vaccination Programme Lead for Voluntary Action Leicester, stated:

“Volunteers’ Week is our chance to say thank you after an incredibly difficult year. Hundreds of thousands of people have stepped forward to support our NHS through voluntary action. This Volunteers’ Week we will showcase some of the amazing things these volunteers have supported us to do during the pandemic, and say to our regular volunteers who have had to take some time out temporarily to stay safe - we can’t wait to have you back!”

Catherine Johnstone, CBE, Chief Executive at Royal Voluntary Service said:

“It truly has been a year like no other. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved as a sector, including the mobilisation of millions of volunteers up and down the country, both nationally and locally. Volunteers have played an integral part in seeing our communities through the worst of the pandemic and Volunteers’ Week is the perfect opportunity for us to show our heartfelt gratitude for that. Momentum is also building for a further moment in early July, to honour the work of volunteers, and I look forward to continuing to celebrate their contribution.In the past year volunteers have made history and it is imperative that they are recognised and celebrated for this, as they continue to be a huge asset to the nation’s COVID 19 recovery as we move forward.”

Volunteers’ Week is taking place during the #MonthOfCommunity. Running throughout June, the #MonthOfCommunity brings together some great organisations with a range of events including Volunteers’ Week, The Big Lunch and Small Charity Week, and culminates in Thank You Day on 4 July. This collaborative month aims to encourage everyone to think about and join in with the wide variety of positive activities and initiatives happening in local communities across the UK.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

  • To find out more visit www.volunteersweek.org and follow #VolunteersWeek.
  • For media enquiries please contact Sean O’Brien on 07852721478 (between 9am-5pm) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • About Volunteers’ Week: Volunteers' Week is a long-standing, popular event in the voluntary sector, established in 1984 and now in its 37th year. It is supported and celebrated by small grassroots organisations as well as larger, household-name charities, who together run hundreds of events across the UK. These events showcase and celebrate volunteers and the contribution volunteering makes in our communities. Volunteers’ Week is led in partnership by NCVO, WCVA, Volunteer Scotland, and Volunteer Now.
  • UK volunteering facts: In 2018/19, 19.4 million (36%) people volunteered through a group at least once a year and over 11.9 million (22%) of people did so at least once a month. The most common reason overall for volunteering is wanting to improve things or help people (42%). In 2019/20, there were around 163,000 voluntary organisations in the UK, most of which rely on volunteers. In 2017/18, the voluntary sector contributed £18.2bn to the UK economy. This is equivalent to about 0.9% of GDP. 67% of volunteers give their time to charities and community groups, but many others also volunteer in the public and private sectors.
  • About NCVO: The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is the largest membership organisation for the voluntary sector in England. With over 16,000 members, NCVO represents all types of organisations, from large ‘household name’ charities to small voluntary and community groups involved at the local level. We are also the lead body for volunteering in England. www.ncvo.org.uk
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