Strong Support for Vision for Volunteering

Vision for Volunteering is a collaboration across the voluntary and community sector, led by NAVCA, NCVO, Volunteering Matters and the Association of Volunteer Managers.

England’s voluntary and community sector is demonstrating strong support for creating a long-term Vision for Volunteering. Public sector bodies have also been contributing to the initial work and have welcomed the opportunity to contribute.

Over 800 people have signed up to the vision for volunteering website since it was launched in June from local and small charities and community groups to large national organisations.

“There’s a clear commitment to putting our heads together and developing an ambitious Vision for Volunteering,” said Maddy Desforges, CEO of NAVCA. “And the workshops we’ve held so far have been exciting and full of enthusiasm.”

“As we move from the pandemic to living with endemic Covid-19, we’ve all seen the massive impact local volunteering has had, and how people have come together to help their communities. We want to capture that energy and generosity and make sure it doesn’t fade away.”

Vision for Volunteering has held two initial consultation workshops to test the initial thinking behind the collaboration and develop the scope of the project.

The consultation workshops involved people from across the voluntary and community sector, including representatives from organisations focused on health and wellbeing, disability, sport, employment, ageing, arts, heritage, and education as well as those representing community action more widely.

Through consultative and thought-provoking discussions, participants highlighted several key considerations that need weight of consideration for a shared vision, including:

  • What should a Vision for Volunteering include, who is it for, and how can we make the conversation truly inclusive?
  • Positive and negative effects of the pandemic and how this has changed the ability for organisations to enable volunteering
  • The current definition of volunteering and the need for more focus around language and understanding
  • The importance of local and national voluntary organisations as separate but complimentary forces
  • The evolution of volunteering in both short and long-term considerations and effective resource planning
  • The need for appropriate infrastructure and investment as an enabler to participation
  • The different roles volunteers and volunteering can play, including for personal development, building social capital, the role of trustees and participative democracy

The project team working on the Vision for Volunteering captured people’s views and summarised their responses:

What should a Vision for Volunteering include?

“It’s absolutely clear that volunteering needs to be empowering for people”

“The feelings that came out when we talked about this question were around a Vision for Volunteering that removed barriers and supported people to be in control of their activities, to learn about each other and their local community, to have a recognised impact and – importantly – to be part of everyday life. “

“Volunteering can take so many shapes and understanding this is essential to enabling everyone to build it in to their daily lives.”

What are the key themes of consideration?

A number of key themes for consideration emerged from the consultation workshops. Participants talked about: highlighting how volunteering empowers people, the need for infrastructure and investment, an increased opportunity (and need) for collaboration and partnership working, and a need to focus on better understanding of volunteers and the broader sense of volunteering. In both workshops, participants called for a stronger narrative around volunteering, both in terms of a better understanding of volunteering, but also as a tool for engaging people with volunteering.

Participants were clear that a shared vision for volunteering in England needed to better recognise and understand the benefits of volunteering, not just to society, but to the organisations, communities, and individual participants. They said that increased accessibility and inclusivity was essential as part of the opportunity and challenge. Also, ensuring people are empowered to participate in a way and at a time that suits them. Participants agreed that we need to do what we can to shift volunteering so that it becomes more a part of ‘everyday life’, whether formally or informally undertaken.

What are the outputs from the consultation?

After listening to the participants from the first workshops, the Vision for Volunteering consultation is evolving to reflect the comments, suggestions and ideas which have emerged.

In practice, this means:

  • They are inviting national and local representatives from voluntary and community organisations to act as co-chairs of each of the workshop strands
  • They are committed to, and will Include a mix of national and local representation as part of the vision for volunteering steering group
  • They are shaping the next round of Vision for Volunteering workshops to include the key themes that emerged from the initial consultations
  • They are building multiple channels to make it easy for people to contribute to the consultation. This includes holding central workshops, creating a toolkit for individual organisations to run separate workshops, a call for paper submissions against each of the workshop themes, and the use of social media and forums to support collaboration
  • They are creating ‘spotlight’ sessions for representatives from specialist organisations or parts of the voluntary sector, to learn from their vision for volunteering. They’ll be making sure they bring in a real diversity of voices and experience from across volunteering and different sectors.

The consultation now moves into its next phase, with a series of workshops on specific themes. These will cover topics and questions identified as critical to the development of the shared Vision for Volunteering.

If you are passionate about uplifting volunteering and adding your voice to the conversation you can contact Vision for Volunteering here.

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