Last year continued to be an intense period of change within our sector and across all forms of volunteering. But now, in 2022, we’re building on the lessons from the pandemic to look to the future of volunteering.
Today’s Active Lives Survey results,covering the period Nov 2020-21, is an important step to understanding the implications of this change and how we work collaboratively to support volunteers in the future – something we are doing both within our organisation, and as a partner of the Vision for Volunteering project.
The survey results show that 6.6 million people, 14% of the adult population, gave up their time to support others to be active last year. This is a substantial fall of more than 3.1 million people compared to Nov 2019-20 and follows a drop in numbers in the years prior to the pandemic, reported under our previous Active Lives volunteering measures (2016-2019).
More than six-and-a-half million people giving their time, energy, passion and skills to support our communities to take part in sport, activity and movement is still to be celebrated and recognised, though.
At a time of huge turbulence for individuals, communities and society, those who were able to give their time to support others is people power at its best.
When we launched our 10-year strategy Uniting the Movement in 2021, we described this people power as having ‘limitless potential’, and this is true.
Our future vision is one where volunteering in community groups, clubs, at sporting events, informally, with friends, or through social action to bring about change, is impactful, open to all and part of daily life.
Uniting the Movement recognises volunteers for all they do to support communities tackle some of the big issues, such as health, wellbeing and social impact. But also, for its dual benefit, i.e. the outcomes it can also offer to those who give their time.
Active Lives shows that those who volunteer can benefit from improved mental wellbeing, personal development – whether that’s developing skills or building friendships – and increased connections and trust within communities.