Charity sector umbrella bodies have set out plans to collaborate on a long-term plan for volunteering, in a move backed by the minister for civil society.
The project, called Vision for Volunteering, will start this summer, and will be coordinated by the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM), the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), NCVO, and Volunteering Matters.
The scheme is intended to “fully integrate volunteering into [the] post-Covid recovery, harnessing the skills, experience and enthusiasm of volunteers”, the group said.
Volunteering ‘vital’ during the pandemic
Baroness Barran, the minister for civil society, said: “Volunteers are an inspirational force for good and they will continue to be vital to the recovery of communities after an incredibly difficult year.
“We hope this important work will help us better understand the needs, value, and impact that volunteering brings to society.
“We look forward to engaging with the voluntary sector and seeing how their work towards a long-term vision for volunteering progresses.”
In a statement, the group coordinating Vision for Volunteering said that its purpose “is to take this point in time, and the significant interest in volunteering, to reflect and set out what is next for volunteering and therefore how volunteer management needs to respond.
“Over the past 14 months volunteering and social action has been a vital and significant part of the national response to the crisis, creating an opportunity to develop a Vision for Volunteering.”
The group is planning a series of workshops to take place in the coming months, as well as an open consultation, to help shape the project.
They said: “It will include every type of volunteering from informal acts of kindness to formal programmes, service delivery and relational, community-focused volunteering.
“It will include the different needs and aspirations among local communities as well as nationally.”
Maddy Desforges, the chief executive of NAVCA, said: “As we move from crisis response to long-term recovery and rebuilding, we need to build on all we have learned about ourselves and our communities, harnessing the power of volunteering for our collective benefit.
“We want to bring together people from every aspect of civil society to share ideas on volunteering, identify what supports and enables people to volunteer, and the barriers which stop people from contributing to their communities.”
Sarah Vibert, the interim chief executive of NCVO, said: “As we emerge from lockdown, we’re at an important crossroad that will shape the future of volunteering, and we need to re-energise and plan strategically for that.
“To secure the legacy of volunteering during the pandemic we must learn the lessons and realise the opportunities it has presented.”
Paul Reddish, the chief executive of Volunteering Matters, said: “Covid-19 has shown that, for volunteering to flourish at all levels from hyper-local to national, we must look at the structures and systems already in place, and those that may need to be set up, so that all communities can benefit from volunteering in the widest sense – from neighbourly acts to more formal volunteering activity.”
He added: “Collectively as a sector we can ensure that everyone, no matter their background or circumstance, has the opportunity to give up their time and skills to support others so that volunteering is a part of everyday life.”