Volunteering for Stronger Communities

An exciting project funded by The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), which offered a unique opportunity to measure the impact on individuals of them having contact with a Volunteer Centre and then engaging in some kind of volunteering.

The evaluation of the programme tracked the change for the individual in a number of areas, including employability, health and wellbeing.

Run in 15 Volunteer Centres projects across England, the core aim of the programme was:

"To use volunteering to help communities to tackle the effects of the economic downturn and subsequent public spending reductions whilst building and strengthening the capacity of the volunteering infrastructure to provide more effective support to communities in future."

Project activity included:

  • volunteer mentoring
  • training voluntary volunteer coordinators
  • working with volunteer involving organisations to develop new opportunities appropriate for people new to volunteering
  • bite-sized introductory sessions about volunteering for hard to reach individuals
  • workshops to develop employability.

After two years, the projects finished between October and December 2013.

Evaluation and measuring impact

The project was evaluated by an independent team from Sheffield Hallam University which concluded that there was "a clear 'programme effect' with participants…indicating that VSC support made a difference to positive outcomes experienced."

Voluntary Action Sheffield, Exeter Council for Voluntary Service and North Devon Council for Voluntary Service also recorded the stories of individual volunteers explaining the positive impact that volunteering can have on their CVs.

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