What we believe

At Volunteering Matters we turn local knowledge into action by working with volunteers and partners across the UK to build stronger communities for all. We work closely with them to identify solutions to the problems they are facing. Here you can find out more about what we believe can make communities even stronger.

At Volunteering Matters we turn local knowledge into action by working with volunteers and partners across the UK to build stronger communities for all. We work closely with them to identify solutions to and address complex issues. Here you can find out more about what we believe can make communities even stronger.

We invite decision makers across the country to engage with our policies, form partnerships with us, and advocate for the vital role of volunteers in creating positive change.

Enabling Older Adults

Preventative Support for Older People

Youth Leadership in Community Change

Inclusive Youth Social Action

Supporting Care-Experienced Young People

Enabling Refugees and Asylum Seekers

A group of volunteers and partners sitting and standing in a room

Our Vision for Stronger Communities

Volunteering is more than just giving time; it’s about fostering connections, sharing skills, and empowering individuals to drive community change. Our policies focus on three main areas:

inclusive

Enabling older adults

Supporting initiatives that enable older people to use their experience and skills to tackle local issues, enhancing their well-being and strengthening community bonds.

empowering

Youth leadership and social action

Advocating for youth-driven projects that promote leadership, equity, and community engagement, ensuring young voices are heard and valued.

compassionate

Supporting community integration

Targeting support for care-experienced young people and refugees, providing the mentorship and resources they need to thrive and contribute to their communities.

Our policy positions

1.1: Enabling Older Adults through Volunteering

Summary: We advocate for a community-led approach to enable older adults to volunteer, sharing their skills and experience to address local issues and help others.

Reason why: Volunteering allows older adults to impart their skills, support others, foster community connections, and enhance their own well-being.

Funding should be made available to support and enable older adults to take on leadership roles in the community. Building and maintaining connections. Funding means we can recruit volunteers, provide insurance and support processes and foster links with other local partners and national infrastructure.

Facilitate partnerships with local authorities and organisations to create age-friendly community projects based on local need.

Research shows that if older people continue to contribute using their skills and experience that their mental health improves, their physical health improves and community spirit improves.

We retain and cascade valuable learning and skills within communities that are based on experience, reducing us making the same mistakes whilst also ensuring that solutions meet all people’s needs (older people who may be excluded from digital developments etc)

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) is a programme within Volunteering Matters that provides opportunities for people aged 50 and over to use their energy, enthusiasm and experience to improve the health and wellbeing of others, reduce social isolation and alleviate disadvantage in their communities.

Find out more

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) provides opportunities for people aged 50 and over to use their energy, enthusiasm and experience to improve the health and wellbeing of others, reduce social isolation and alleviate disadvantage in their communities. When Rosemary was told to stay at home during COVID-19, along with other people aged 70+, she didn't stay out of action for long. By the end of April she was back organising ‘Meet and Greet volunteers’ at a GP centre, followed by at a Minor Injuries Unit in the hospital and at the Eye clinic. Rosemary was awarded an MBE for her volunteering in 2021 for services to Forth Valley Royal Hospital during the pandemic.

 

1.2: Preventative Support for Older People

Summary: We seek support for community-led projects to enhance older people’s health and well-being through volunteering.

The reason why: Community projects provide social connections and help address issues like mental health and abuse, reducing long-term service needs.

  • Invest in community-based physical activity programs, including senior fitness classes, walking groups, and accessible recreational spaces.
  • Support community organisations in creating and maintaining social engagement programmes for older residents.

The cost of care for an aged population is one of the most pressing issues facing statutory services at this time. Community based solutions that keep older people connected, healthy and safe are cost effective ways of helping people retain independence and reduce reliance on statutory services

Sporting Chance in Stockton-on-Tees welcomes men aged 50+ regardless of their age or fitness level. They are referred by their GP or simply just turn up. The project results in health improvements and increased local connection with amongst those taking part.

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Sporting Chance in Stockton-on-Tees welcomes men aged 50+ regardless of their age or fitness level. Steve joined Sporting Chance after a visit to his GP with health concerns. He attended sessions twice weekly and latterly signing up for the gym programme in partnership with Durham University. There is no doubt Steve has had transformative health improvements – losing over two stones in weight, being able to move without pain and improved blood sugar levels. However, Steve is also quick to note that he now feels part of the Sporting Chance Family and how attending ‘is good for the soul’.

2.1: Youth Leadership in Community Change

Summary: We call for partners to empower young people to lead community change, emphasizing their role in civil society.

The reason why: Young people have the skills and energy to drive societal and environmental improvements.

  • Invest in projects and programmes where young people are authentic leaders of change.
  • Decision makers to commit to becoming Towns, Boroughs or Cities of Youth Social Action, to make space for young people in decision making and make changes accordingly.
  • Organisations to sign up to the Power of Youth Charter to show their commitment to young people.
  • Charity leaders to recognise youth social action and leadership in their decision making and activity.

  • Provides environments where young people can learn, share ideas and collaborate – developing skills required for good citizenship and future leadership in work and community
  • Creates tolerance and understanding – listening to diversity of voices and opinions can be an important counter narrative to social media algorithms that feed young people singular perspectives and can reinforce prejudicial or linear thinking

The #iwill Movement supports and champions young people to create a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society.

Find out more

The #iwill Movement supports and champions young people to create a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society. Lanai has been involved in Volunteering Matters’ youth social actions programmes for over seven years - including as an #iwill Ambassador. Through her involvement she has worked with WASSUP (women against sexual exploitation and violence speak up) to help create safe spaces for other women and supported the building and delivery of toolkits to professionals and young people. Lanai became a Trustee of Volunteering Matters in 2023.

2.2: Inclusive youth social action

Summary: We advocate for opportunities for marginalized youth to engage in meaningful social action.
The reason why: Providing leadership opportunities to underrepresented youth fosters equity and community engagement.

  • Invest in mentoring or leadership programmes to develop future leaders, particularly focusing on youth social action in SEN and alternate provision.
  • Decision makers to create space and encourage young people to develop as leaders, also to support and create change because of their leadership.
  • That there is a recognition that meaningful social action is beneficial to the development of young people that is distinct to educational attainment, but instead helps them to have their voices heard, to enact change and to feel powerful in their communities. This helps them to develop as individuals but most importantly to be part of their community and their place.
    Recognition that youth social action is volunteering and to include this in key data and information within the charity sector.

  • Levelling up and social mobility – opens up areas and opportunities that drive aspiration, hopefulness and access
  • Enables communities to learn become more tolerant and understand experiences of individuals and communities that experience discrimination and or are under-served.

The London Young Ambassadors and Mental Health Ambassadors is a programme delivered by Volunteering Matters in partnership with the Mayor of London. It uses social action to enable young people to unlock their potential and make change in their community. Since 2021 we have worked with 78 schools and over 850 young Londoners.

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The London Young Ambassadors uses social action to enable young people to unlock their potential and make change in their community. Student volunteers from Garratt Park School produced ‘care bags’ full of essential hygiene products to give to vulnerable people in their local community. They wanted to make a difference to the lives of people who are homeless, as well as girls and women at risk in the area. After securing grant funding from the Mayor of London’s office they assembled 130 care bags. In response to the care bag project, the Department of Education team donated 20 sleeping bags for The Spires’ ‘Keep The Homeless Warm initiative’.

2.3: Supporting Care-Experienced Young People

Summary: We seek support for care-experienced young people, helping them transition from care with mentorship and community support.
The reason why: Care-experienced youth possess unique strengths but face challenges; targeted support can unlock their potential.

  • Implement and fund structured mentoring programs tailored for care-experienced young people, connecting them with mentors who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy.
  • Create a framework for ongoing support that extends beyond the age of 18, recognising that care-experienced individuals may need support well into young adulthood to successfully transition to independence. This is more than qualifications, it is about the community providing support to open up the place to the young people.
  • That there is a collective community response to support care experienced young people – every-one effectively asking ‘what can I do?’

  • Provides support networks and safety nets wider than statutory limitations – helping young people throughout young adulthood and to make secure and sustainable connections and networks in communities.
  • Keeps young people in education and employment which opens up wider opportunities and security.
  • Helps young people navigate risks posed by those who would like to involve them in criminality and negative activities – providing positive role modelling and support to make difficult decisions.
  • Adds value to a statutory system that has limitations and resource challenges – releasing the pressure so that statutory services can focus on the most pressing issues.

Our award-winning Grandmentors programme transforms the lives of young adults through the emotional and practical support of our older, world-wise volunteers. Grandmentors provide a vital link for young people as they navigate life after care.

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Our award-winning Grandmentors programme transforms the lives of young adults through the emotional and practical support of our older, world-wise volunteers. Salou found a home in Ipswich, after arriving in the UK at 17 from Guinea. He became part of the Grandmentors Programme taking up a place in full time education, building up skills and language, aspiring to be an electrician. He also became vice-captain for the Volunteering Matters football team, ‘Valuable Migrants’ that includes anyone but especially refugees. Being part the football team, being with other young people and spending time at Volunteering Matters gave him a sense of community and home.

3.1: Enabling Refugees and Asylum Seekers through Volunteering

Summary: We call for support programs for refugees and asylum seekers to help them contribute to their communities.
The reason why: Refugees bring diversity and potential; they need support to integrate and thrive.

Increase funding for programmes specifically designed to support the integration and empowerment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Foster community-led initiatives that promote understanding, respect, and cohesion between refugees, asylum seekers, and host communities.

  • Providing a sense of belonging
    Creating tolerant communities
    Helping people settle and therefore take ownership and responsibility for adding value to community
  • Helping navigate unfamiliar culture, systems and challenges
  • Promoting good citizenship across communities and developing global perspectives

The Inspire Project was developed to meet the clear need of supporting young New Scots refugee’s and asylum seekers, to overcome the barriers faced with relocating and living in a new city (Edinburgh and Dundee), helping New Scots to thrive and play an active role in their new communities.

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The Inspire Project was developed to meet the clear need of supporting young New Scots refugee’s and asylum seekers, to overcome the barriers faced with relocating and living in a new city (Edinburgh and Dundee), helping New Scots to thrive and play an active role in their new communities.

Advocate the Power of Volunteering

We are calling on decision makers, community leaders, funders and organisations to:

  • Understand the research and evidence behind our positions and see how volunteering can address critical community needs.
  • Collaborate with us to develop and implement volunteer-driven initiatives that create lasting impact.
  • Advocate for policies that support and recognise the value of volunteers in building stronger communities.

Together, we can harness the power of volunteering to make a real difference. Join us in creating a future where every individual’s contribution is valued, and communities are vibrant, inclusive, and resilient.

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