Volunteering Matters (formerly CSV), the leading UK volunteering charity, has today (16th April 2015) expressed concern about continued austerity and is calling for the next government to acknowledge the value of the volunteering sector given its critical role in helping to promote and sustain the well-being of individuals and communities.

In light of the political parties’ election manifestos, Volunteering Matters is particularly concerned about how further austerity will impact on some of society’s most vulnerable members.

With 963,000 young people not in education, employment or training[1], over 400,000 children receiving support from children’s services[2], up to 30% of people in the UK experiencing loneliness and social isolation[3] and over a third of disabled people in the UK available for and wanting work[4], investment in the volunteering sector is vital.

The new government must recognise the importance and benefits of volunteering- whatever the outcome of the election. The charity is calling on government to:

  • Help young people make a greater contribution to their communities by making space in the curriculum for volunteering and social action and work experience. We want a future government to implement the youth guarantee[5].
  • Ensure effective application of the Social Value Act so the volunteering sector is meaningfully engaged in the design and delivery of local services for people and communities.
  • Work with the volunteering sector to identify and help remove the barriers to volunteering faced by many citizens.
  • Recognise the importance and benefits of volunteering for millions of people across the United Kingdom, by investing in the volunteering sector to promote and sustain health and well-being and bring communities together.

Duncan Tree, Volunteering Matters Head of Policy and Performance, said: “Our society faces significant challenges- presented for example by its ageing population, persistently high youth unemployment and increasing health inequalities- set against a backdrop of significant reductions in the capacity of public services.

“These challenges notwithstanding, volunteering remains a proven means of helping to maintain individual and community well-being and promoting social inclusion.”

Volunteering Matters knows how volunteering improves and sustains individual and community wellbeing. Volunteering matters to;

  • Older people to help them maintain a sense of purpose and self-respect, and lessens the isolation felt by those cut off from social networks.
  • Younger people in raising their expectations and employability skills, but also improves their social networks and physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Disabled people by helping them to participate in and contribute to their local communities, increasing their confidence, social and employability skills and overall quality of life.
  • To families, as volunteers help them improve parenting skills, the quality of family life and help to keep children safe, whilst reducing reliance on social care services.

Whoever forms the new government, Volunteering Matters will continue to promote the importance of volunteering and provide quality meaningful volunteering opportunities for people of all backgrounds, abilities and ages across the UK.

[1] “NEET: Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training” House of Commons Library, February 26th, 2015, p3 (Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06705/neet-young-people-not-in-education-employment-or-training)

[2] “Child Protection in the UK” NSPCC, 2015 (Available at: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-protection-system/)

[3] “The Lonely Society” Mental Health Foundation, May 2, 2010, p35

[4] “Disability Facts and Figures” Scope, 2015 (Available at: http://www.scope.org.uk/media/disability-facts-figures)

[5] “Youth Guarantee” European Commission, 2015 (Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1079)