Volunteering levels almost unchanged in England

Government's citizenship survey finds percentages of adults participating are similar to last year

Volunteering levels have remained almost static over the past year in England, according to the Communities and Local Government department's latest citizenship survey, which was published yesterday.

Forty-three per cent of adults questioned between April and June - the first quarter of the 2009/10 survey -  said they had volunteered formally at least once in the previous 12 months, compared with 41 per cent in 2008/09.

Figures for informal volunteering at least once in the previous year fell from 62 per cent in 2008/09 to 57 per cent.

Formal volunteering is defined as giving unpaid help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment.

Informal volunteering is defined as giving unpaid help to people who are not relatives.

The figures have remained similar since they were first collected in 2001.

People aged under 25 were most likely to volunteer informally, while 64 to 75-year-olds were the most likely to volunteer formally. Levels of formal volunteering were highest in the south east.

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said he was happy to see levels of formal volunteering back up to 43 per cent.

He also noted that the percentage of 16 to 25-year-olds who had volunteered at least once in the previous year had increased from 38 to 44 per cent.

"However, we should always look beyond the year-on-year figure to assess trends," he said.

Bill Garland, deputy executive director of CSV, said the challenge was to shape opportunities to match people's availability. He said better volunteer management would help.

"We would also want to examine the possibility of citizens being given the right to participate in the delivery of local authority services such as parks, schools, libraries, children's centres and care homes," he said.

A spokesman for CSV added that the charity had noticed a significant increase in demand from 16 to 35-year-olds for full-time gap-year placements.


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