Proportion of people who volunteer rises seven percentage points this year

Research by the insurance company Zurich suggests the London Olympic Games have had a positive effect on attitudes towards volunteering

 Volunteering is up
Volunteering is up

The proportion of people who volunteer has increased by seven percentage points over the past year, according to new research by the insurance company Zurich.

The firm surveyed 2,049 UK adults in July and found that 62 per cent of respondents had taken part in some form of volunteering in the previous 12 months, compared with 55 per cent in 2012.

Zurich puts the increase down to the effect of the London Games, especially among younger people. Among 18 to 34-year-olds, 13 per cent said they were inspired to volunteer by the Olympics, the research shows.

But the type of volunteering people were involved in was more likely to be informal goodwill gestures, such as looking after neighbours’ pets or watering plants, rather than unpaid activities to support local community and voluntary organisations.

Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said they had volunteered informally within the previous 12 months, up from 27 per cent in 2012. Those involved with more formal volunteering increased to 33 per cent from 27 per cent last year.

Zurich also carried out research, in partnership with the local infrastructure body Navca, with 41 local charities and voluntary organisations.

This found that 46 per cent of the organisations experienced no change in the public's attitude towards volunteering and community engagement over the previous year. Thirty-two per cent said there had been a positive change.

Hannah Clark, head of community and social organisations at Zurich, said: "The rise in the number of people volunteering in one form or another over the past year is encouraging, and it appears the events of last summer have sparked the spirits of local communities.

"However, while the trend for volunteering is travelling in the right direction, the type of volunteering is still predominantly focused on neighbourly goodwill gestures, even though charities are in greater need of more formal help."

The Cabinet Office’s first Community Life survey, published in February, showed the proportion of people volunteering increased for the first time since 2005, up six percentage points to 71 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

Jenna Pudelek

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