A group of 18 of the country’s leading volunteer-involving charities, from Royal Voluntary Service to Scouts, to The National Trust, RNLI, NSPCC, YHA and Samaritans are today launching their shared commitment to support all communities across the UK to be dynamic and welcoming places for volunteering.

The benefits, they say, can be transformative, creating the kind of society we all want to live in while volunteers can help address some of the biggest challenges we face from COVID recovery, to mental health to climate change.

The group believes the extraordinary expansion of volunteering in every village, town and city through the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity to power-up our civic society for the long-term, enabling everyone to share in its many rewards.

The ‘Shaping the Future with Volunteering’ group is being co-chaired by Royal Voluntary Service CEO, Catherine Johnstone CBE and Matt Hyde OBE, Chief Executive at Scouts. Both organisations have been active during the pandemic, involving volunteers in vital community service.

"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a bigger and broader civic society which will build stronger communities. Millions of people have stepped forward during the pandemic for the first time and while supporting others in their hour of need, they have benefited themselves in so many ways. I have been humbled by what I have seen through our work with the NHS on the frontline, our volunteers have supported those in great need, often out of their comfort zone, but rising to the challenge. In return they found new confidence, a sense of community and belonging and a feel-good-factor which comes from doing something of real value.

"We have come together as national charities to build on this momentum. We know change is needed if we are to make the most of this incredible chance and we are determined to seize the moment."

Catherine Johnstone CBE, CEO Royal Voluntary Service

"The commitment and kindness of 12 million volunteers has made all the different to life during the pandemic, from those supporting the vaccination programme to the Scout leaders who delivered 3.8 million hours of zoom meetings. Now’s the time to build on that by championing what volunteering offers society. Giving our time is good for us, actively improving our wellbeing by connecting us to something bigger. It’s good for our communities and good for our country. That’s why we have come together as major volunteer-involving charities to work together and learn from each other, extending our reach and making a bigger impact in our communities."

Matt Hyde, Chief Executive, Scouts

"Volunteers will continue to play a vital part in our recovery, just as they have in responding to the pandemic. But we’re now at an important crossroad that will shape the future of volunteering. To secure the incredible legacy of volunteering during the pandemic we must learn the lessons and realise the opportunities it has presented.

"One of the key ingredients to the successful mobilisation of volunteers during the pandemic has been collaboration. So it is fantastic that 18 of the largest volunteering charities, who between them support hundreds of thousands of volunteers, have committed to working collectively to shape the future of volunteering."

Sarah Vibert, Interim CEO at NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), has welcomed this initiative

"Volunteers are involved via informal networks and formal routes with charities in every community across Wales and the response during the pandemic was absolutely phenomenal. Many of the charities involved in this collaboration are members and partners of WCVA – including Scouts Cymru, Samaritans Cymru, the Red Cross in Wales and St John Cymru.

"As the national membership body for the sector in Wales, WCVA looks forward to working in partnership to both support and promote volunteering and hopes to link effectively with the Volunteering Wales portal that enables the sector to work together collaboratively. The Welsh Government invest in this portal and it continues to be a really practical way to support amazing voluntary effort."

Ruth Marks, Chief Executive, Wales Council for Voluntary Action

In their Position Statement launched today, the ‘Shaping the Future with Volunteering’ group of charities has identified key areas of opportunity for volunteering including supporting COVID recovery; building volunteers’ own wellbeing and working with diverse communities.

The group of 18 charities will focus together on 4 strategic priorities:

  1. Understanding - Promoting better understanding and celebrating the power of volunteering.
  2. Inclusion - Sharing a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, learning from the best examples of volunteer engagement across diverse demographics, geographies and cultures.
  3. Support - Learning more about valuing volunteers and how they can be better supported and making sure systems are accessible to everyone.
  4. Partnerships - Working with other volunteer involving organisations of all shapes and sizes, learning from each other and working closely with government, business and other agencies.

Whilst some volunteering roles were reduced or put on hold over the past year, others – such as mutual aid programmes – have emerged as key contributors, supporting neighbours and local communities. Over the past year more than 12 million volunteers have contributed to the wellbeing of people in every city, town, village and community. All the charities in the Group will be recognising this amazing contribution by joining in Thank You Day on Sunday 4 July.

The full list of the 18 charities involved in the ‘Shaping the future with volunteering’ group are:

For further information

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