Volunteering brings enormous benefits and enjoyment to beneficiaries, volunteers and the wider community. We know that volunteering increases social and civil participation, reduces loneliness and isolation and empowers communities. It can also improve mental and physical health, support the development of job and life skills, and foster relationships. The annual value of volunteering in Scotland is estimated to be £2.26 billion.
Suffice to say, volunteering is key to us achieving our shared ambition of a fairer and more prosperous country with equality of opportunity for all – a country where everyone has the chance to make a difference.
We’ve seen an increase in volunteering in recent years, with the number of 11-16 year old volunteers increasing from 32% in 2009 to 52% in 2017. But we need to do more. Although an estimated 51% of the adult population in Scotland has volunteered at some point in their lives, 49% have not. We want to create a society where volunteering is the norm – where opportunity and expectation are not limited by upbringing or social circumstances, and where we can all celebrate and honour the contributions we make.
Volunteering for All – our National Outcomes Framework for Volunteering – launched at the end of April. The Framework was developed jointly with partners from the volunteer and community sector, local government and NHS, with academics and social researchers, and with volunteers. It sets out clearly and in once place a coherent and compelling vision for volunteering, supported by key principles and outcomes and rooted in our national values of dignity, kindness and respect.
The Framework encourages all of us to consider the role we can play in reducing barriers to volunteering for people from all sections of the community, regardless of their background. It supports third, private and public sector organisations to promote the value of volunteering. And it celebrates the contributions that have already been made to encourage everyone who wants to volunteer to take part.
Ultimately, we want to create a society where volunteering is the norm – where opportunity and expectation are not limited by upbringing or social circumstances, and where we all celebrate and honour the contributions we make. It is time to change the narrative on volunteering – to celebrate existing activity whilst finding new ways to engage with anyone who wants to participate.
Read the Volunteering Outcomes Framework
Further information: Literature review
Helen Webster, Head of Charity law and Volunteering in the Scottish Government’s Third Sector Unit, introduces the new National Volunteering Outcomes Framework – Volunteering for All.