The homelessness charity Crisis has seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of people applying to volunteer for its annual Crisis at Christmas event this year.
So far, 7,300 people have volunteered this year, compared with about 5,600 at the same time last year. The charity is hoping this year's figure will reach 8,000, the same final total as last year.
Jennie Smith, volunteer manager at Crisis, said some of the increase could be attributed to a new online system to manage volunteers.
Smith said the charity was also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, so it had benefited from increased media coverage. The economic environment could be another factor in increased volunteer applications, she said.
"The volunteers we’ve spoken to are saying they are more aware of people less fortunate in hard times, and they want to step forward and help," she said.
She said the fact that so many more people had volunteered earlier in the year meant it was easier for the charity to plan ahead and had enabled it to fill the less popular roles, such as the night shifts.
The national volunteering charity TimeBank said the number of visitors to the Christmas volunteering section of its website had increased by 70 per cent this year compared with last year.
Helen Walker, chief executive of TimeBank, said the economic climate could be one factor in the increased interest in Christmas volunteering. "Many people just can’t afford the kind of Christmas they’ve held before and are re-evaluating their priorities," she said. "And those who are finding it difficult to get into work may turn to volunteering to gain practical experience that will help them in the job market."