The contribution of volunteers to our society is invaluable and essential. Currently, 38% of the UK population volunteers at least once a year adding an estimated value of £22.6 to UK charities. Most importantly, the most common motivation (46%) for people to volunteer is ‘wanting to do good’. As a celebration of the importance of volunteering in our society and a thank you to those people, the 35th Annual Volunteers’ week is taking place in the UK, between the 1st and 7th of June.
A wide range of events are held across the UK by large well-known charities as well as small grassroots and volunteer groups. The success of this week is dependent, therefore, on how loud and vocal these organisations and people are. It is supported by many organisations and has been a result of the collaboration between NCVO, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which provides materials, report and all the necessary tools for the promotion and successful running of events. Starting on the first week of June, activities such as a launch party, Twitter chats as well as youth-themed day, wellbeing and impact day are scheduled.
In addition to the celebration of volunteering and the impact it has on society, this event promotes volunteering as an activity. It showcases a wide range of roles and opportunities available to get more people involved. A report by the NCVO shows that 16% of respondents do not get involved in volunteering because they ‘have not been asked’ to. Volunteer week shows the benefits of volunteering not only to the recipient organisation/community but also to the volunteer. The main focus for the week this year is to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity. The official website sheds light on the importance of including all types of volunteers from fundraisers, carers, trustees to campaigners and to invite everyone to consider what volunteering for everyone mean. Report by NCVO, ‘Time well spent’ (2019), concluded that volunteering opportunities are not equal. It reveals that the likelihood of involvement with volunteering is lower within people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and lower level of education. This represents an invitation to think of how attention with regards to diversity and inclusion is relatively bigger on paid opportunities rather than the work of the volunteers and how that can affect social mobility. Furthermore, the BAME community and disabled people appear to not have a great experience with volunteering. NCVO data shows that 11% of disabled volunteers don’t see a culture of mutual respect in volunteering, compared to 6% non-disabled respondents.
The 2019 Volunteers’ week is, therefore, a great chance to bring attention to the volunteer sector’s successes as well as areas of improvement. It is about the celebration of volunteering, recognition for those involved and the impact on society and showing its significance on the life of the volunteer; his/her wellbeing, enhancement of skills and