By the Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Civil Society
Volunteers have stepped up again and again over the past few years, in a myriad of ways. When moments of celebration and crisis have arisen, volunteers have played an important role. Tens of thousands kept us safe during covid-19 by delivering supplies and helping to administer the vaccine. People opened their homes to those fleeing war in Ukraine.
These are incredible acts of generosity and kindness, but volunteering does not only occur at times of immense need. It is a part of many people’s day-to-day lives, whether they volunteer themselves or receive support from a neighbour or a volunteer-involving organisation.
We want volunteering to be a positive experience for everyone, everywhere. Timely, useful and accessible research can help us achieve that. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissions the Community Life Survey, which provides official statistics related to volunteering, charitable giving and community engagement. It captures vital information including the proportion of people who volunteer each year, showing 25 million people in England volunteered at least once in 2021/22.
However, it is research like NCVO’s Time Well Spent that provides a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the volunteer experience, beyond what we can learn from the Community Life Survey. This is why we’re proud to support this research and report.
These latest findings from Time Well Spent make for essential reading. It’s great to see that volunteers on the whole have a good experience. They see the difference they make, and feel positive towards the organisations they volunteer with. When it comes to formal volunteering, this is a credit to the organisations and volunteer managers who help make volunteering a worthwhile and rewarding endeavour.
The report also highlights volunteers’ motivations, along with barriers and enablers to volunteering. I take particular interest in the findings about equity, diversity, and inclusion, which highlight the essential work that needs to take place to ensure that anybody can and does volunteer.
Research such as Time Well Spent and the Community Life Survey provides crucial information for government and all sectors involving volunteers, to help us develop a positive way forward. The world around us is constantly changing, as is our society. We must make strides to adapt to those changes in how we involve and support volunteers.
This is especially important as we continue to work together through initiatives like the Vision for Volunteering. This 10-year, sector-led strategy, aimed at making sure volunteering is fit for the future, must be based on evidence like we see here with Time Well Spent. We look forward to continuing to support the Vision, and to supporting the voluntary sector to create and embed necessary changes to make volunteering rewarding and accessible for all.
Volunteering is critical to a vibrant and resilient civil society. We hope that the data and insights in this report will help you to help volunteers get the best from their roles and make an even bigger impact in their communities. I wish you all the best with your volunteering endeavours.
The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP
Minister for Civil Society