Child mentoring charity reports fall in volunteer numbers since riots last summer

Chance UK chief executive Gracia McGrath says some people might be volunteering at the Olympics instead

Gracia McGrath
Gracia McGrath

The number of people putting themselves forward to volunteer for the child mentoring charity Chance UK has tailed off in the year since last summer’s riots in England, according to its chief executive.

Gracia McGrath, chief executive of Chance UK, said that 190 people had put themselves forward to volunteer – the maximum number of volunteers it can work with at one time – in the two months after the riots in August 2011. But that figure had fallen gradually over the past year.

In May/June of this year, only 62 people put themselves forward to volunteer for the charity, compared with 89 people for the same period the year before.

McGrath said that the decline had been gradual, with 190 people offering to volunteer in November/ December 2011 and 90 people putting themselves forward in February/March 2012.

McGrath said she hoped that the surge in volunteering experienced by the charity in the aftermath of the riots would have continued in the long term. "I do think people had an immediate knee-jerk reaction and wanted to do something positive," she said. "As the riots faded out of the news, so did people’s concentration on it and their desire to do something positive."

McGrath said the charity has been using social media to push volunteering since last autumn and the first anniversary coverage also provided an opportunity to attract more potential mentors. But she added: "When you have news stories that say riots are definitely going to happen again, there becomes a feeling of inevitability that makes people not want to act."

McGrath said that the Olympics had also had an effect on volunteering numbers.

"A lot of people who were expressing an interest in volunteering for us went on to volunteer for the Olympics instead," she said. "We hope that once the Olympics is over they will volunteer for charities like ourselves."

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