Volunteers 'worth £112m'

Helen Warrell

The contribution of hospice volunteers is worth more than £112m, according to a survey by Help the Hospices.

The report, Volunteer Value, was carried out in collaboration with the National Association of Voluntary Service Managers. Researchers estimated the financial contribution of volunteers throughout the UK by calculating the hours they worked and multiplying this by a basic hourly rate. An overhead rate of 30 per cent was also added.

Final figures showed that, for every £5 of hospice input, £1 comes from the activity of volunteers, just over £1 comes from the NHS and £3 comes from charitable giving.

Jane Radford, voluntary service manager at Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury, said: "We have always recognised the value of our volunteers, but we had never undertaken such a detailed evaluation in monetary terms. We could not have anticipated the astounding figures our calculations would give."

However, Hugh Scurfield, who chaired the working group, warned that this shouldn't detract from the other benefits volunteers could bring. "Their very presence brings an extra dimension to the culture and atmosphere within hospices," he said.

Charles Nall, corporate services director at the Children's Society, described calculating volunteer value as "just good stewardship".

He added: "Working for a charity is a contribution to civil society. But if time is valued in this way, then volunteers will know their efforts are being taken seriously."

John Graham, finance director at the NSPCC, said: "Many of us donate cash, but maybe it would be more valuable to donate time."

ALSO ...

Help the Hospices has been chosen by the Government to distribute £40m in capital grants to hospices in England. The funds, part of the Dignity in Care programme for older people, will be spent over the next two years on refurbishing buildings and improving hospice grounds and facilities.

Marie Curie Cancer Care will receive £10m in capital funding to support its Delivering Choice programme.

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