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Reduce unemployment by helping jobless volunteer – new report

Helping jobless people to volunteer could be the key to reducing unemployment, a new report published today argues.

Volunteering can give people the skills and confidence needed to help them find jobs, according to the charity representative body, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

The report follows a £2m The National Lottery Community Fund-backed pilot which helped hundreds of unemployed people back into work through volunteering placements (1).

Under the scheme, co-ordinated by NCVO and delivered by local volunteer centres, unemployed people were supported into volunteering roles with local charities, giving them an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their self-esteem, and make new connections.

Participants reported notable improvements in their confidence and wellbeing.

NCVO, which represents over 10,000 charities across England, said the study was proof that volunteering could help reduce unemployment by addressing skills and confidence gaps.

But the report is critical of current arrangements, with many Jobcentre Plus branches ill-equipped to help people who want to volunteer to boost their skills.

Even as employment levels start to recover, there remains widespread concern about the challenges of those who have been unemployed for longer periods, with studies showing links between long-term unemployment and mental and physical ill-health.

Justin Davis Smith, executive director for volunteering at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

'Supporting people who have been unemployed for some time back into work is one of the biggest challenges facing our society. By building confidence, skills and experience, volunteering can provide an effective route back into work.

'While national programmes have struggled to make their mark, our programme, delivered by volunteer centres at the heart of their communities, shows that local action, appropriately funded, can make a real difference.

'Getting back into work can be very tough. Volunteering can help restore confidence back, teach new skills and establish a routine - helping people get their foot back on the jobs ladder.'

The report, the first in a series from NCVO on how charities and volunteering can help transform public services, also calls for more training for Jobcentre Plus staff. A survey of Volunteer Centres, local organisations that support people to volunteer, found that many Jobcentre Plus staff erroneously tell clients that they will lose welfare benefits if they start to volunteer.


For more information, please contact Aidan Warner, external relations manager, NCVO – 020 7520 2413 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Founded in 1919, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations represents and supports voluntary organisations in England, with over 10,000 members from the largest household-name charities to the smallest community groups.

1. More information on the Volunteering for Stronger Communities programme:

Volunteering for Stronger Communities local partners:

  • Sheffield Volunteer Centre
  • Volunteer Centre Liverpool
  • Blackburn with Darwen Volunteer Centre
  • Volunteer Bristol
  • Volunteer Centre Sutton
  • Tamworth Volunteer Centre
  • Volunteer Centre Oxfordshire
  • Volunteer Centre Dacorum (Hertfordshire)
  • Volunteer Centre Nottingham
  • Voluntary Action Islington
  • Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service
  • Volunteer Cornwall
  • Volunteer Centre Camden
  • Exeter Volunteer Centre and Volunteer Centre North Devon
  • 2D (County Durham)

Download the report

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