Saturday musings: volunteering – Time Well Spent?

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) recently published the results of a survey of adults aged 18+ in Great Britain on volunteering, undertaken on its behalf by YouGov. The total sample was 10,103 respondents, weighted to reflect the national population by key demographics; and “volunteering” was taken to mean giving unpaid help through a group, club or organisation.

The report, Time Well Spent, suggests that volunteering could be a powerful way for young people to overcome feelings of isolation; the survey found that over three-quarters (77%) of 18 to 24-year-olds – the group most likely to be affected by feelings of loneliness – said that volunteering made them feel less socially-isolated. But the study also found that though middle- and working-class young people were just as likely as each other to have volunteered in the last 12 months (37%), far more working-class young people said that they  had never volunteered at all (36% of C2DE 18- to 24-year-olds as against 25% of ABC1 18- to 24-year-olds).

Many charities – including religious charities – rely heavily on volunteers: just think of all the members of PCCs, Methodist district councils and Scottish kirk sessions, or church secretaries, treasurers, choristers, cleaners, flower-arrangers and Sunday-school teachers. But, I cannot help wondering, would the average citizen regard a PCC member or a church flower-arranger as a “volunteer” in the sense implied by the YouGov definition? Continue reading