Volunteering is an altruistic activity whereby individuals or groups provide services and help for no financial or social gain to benefit others. It is an extremely valuable activity that also helps volunteers to connect to the community. Volunteering can be formal, giving unpaid help through a group or an organisation and informal, individually driven by giving unpaid help to individuals, who are not relatives and not through a group or organisation. Volunteer week is a chance to celebrate the individuals who freely give up their time and praise the millions who contribute to a better life of others.
Volunteering week was established in 1984 by Volunteering England and is celebrated annually highlighting the work of volunteers and promoting the awareness of the benefits that volunteering brings to the community as well as to the individual. However, according to the Community Life Survey 2017-2018, the general trend for volunteering in the UK has fallen since 2013. For example, in 2017-2018, 22% of the UK population was involved in formal volunteering once a month, which is 5% less in 2013. Individuals were more likely to volunteer once a year according to the report, 38% in 2017-2018, a 7% reduction from 2013.
So why is it so important to volunteer?
NCVO found that the main reason for volunteering is ‘wanting to do good’, as it is human nature to feel good about helping others. By volunteering, individuals enjoy psychological and physical benefits due to increased satisfaction about themselves, higher self-esteem and a sense of belonging. About 25% of people argue that volunteering is a good incentive to meet people, make friends and engage in the community. Interestingly, volunteering also has medical benefits such as lower blood pressure and increased protection from Alzheimers. Volunteering can also be a useful tool to upgrade work experience as well as an opportunity to add expertise when writing a CV for work. According to the UK government statistics, those who are economically inactive tend to volunteer more (29%) in comparison to those employed (22%).
Volunteers Week is an opportunity to thank the millions of volunteers who take their time to make individuals’ and communities’ lives better.