Britons will give 74.3 million hours of their time to support those in need this festive season.

According to new research by Royal Voluntary Service, the national volunteering charity, one in six (16%) adults in Great Britain have already committed to volunteering over the festive period and a further 15% intend to make plans to in the run up. Helping the homeless (36%), supporting older people (35%) and helping children and young people (32%) are popular causes for those planning to volunteer, as well as supporting the NHS (24%) and supporting those with mental health problems (29%).

One in twenty (6%) have made plans to volunteer their time on Christmas Day itself and one in 10 are considering it.

For many respondents that have volunteered over the festive period in the past, the experience has had a lasting effect. Three in ten said that volunteering at Christmas led them to do more to support their local community and one in five (22%) have gone on to do more regular volunteering. Some said that their Christmas volunteering had encouraged other family members (19%) and friends (18%) to volunteer and for 15%, volunteering had become part of their family’s Christmas routine.

Sadly, over one in six (17%) respondents aged 71 or over said they would be spending most of Christmas alone. Six in ten respondents felt upset (64%) and nearly half (49%) were angry at the idea of an older person spending Christmas alone5. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they had invited an older person living nearby to join them at Christmas and 44% wanted to help a lonely older person in their community but felt too nervous to approach them5.
Whether volunteering over the Christmas period or not, nearly one in five (19%) respondents said they would be making a New Year’s resolution or other plan to start volunteering in 2020. 15% were already volunteers and planned to continue.

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with nearly 20,000 volunteers supporting thousands of people over the course of the year in hospitals and in the community. The charity is calling on people of all ages and backgrounds to volunteer in 2020. Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the charity’s volunteers and staff run social activities and dining clubs in local communities that help people age well and that prevent social isolation and loneliness.

"Christmas is the season of goodwill and it’s both wonderful and extremely humbling to see that so many people are preparing to give their time to help others this Christmas, which for some, can be a difficult time. Research suggests time and time again that volunteering is good for individual well-being, for the people being supported and for society as a whole. We encourage anyone that can to consider volunteering for a few hours or days a month in 2020. By setting up a community breakfast club or running a gentle exercise class on a hospital ward, delivering library books or driving an older person to a GP appointment, our volunteers make an enormous difference to people’s lives."

Rebecca Kennelly, Director of Volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service

"More and more local people are coming together to provide vitally important social activities that keep people engaged in the communities where they live. Volunteers have a vital role to play and I’m delighted that thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are able to support Royal Voluntary Service in its important work."

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery

Jenny Hance is a Royal Voluntary Service volunteer at Liss Luncheon Club in Hampshire, one of the network of social activities across Great Britain supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which will be hosting a Christmas lunch in the build-up to the big day.

"I enjoy being part of a fantastic volunteering team and serving the Christmas lunch, pulling crackers and having a chat and a laugh with the people that come in. There are so many people that spend this time of year alone and we like to do what we can to help share some festive spirit and remind them that there are people that care about them. It’s a few hours of our time and seeing people enjoying themselves and eating a home-cooked lunch is extremely rewarding."

Jenny Hance, Royal Voluntary Service volunteer

For further information

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

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