We've tended to always think of volunteering as something people do for the benefit of others. Whether it's marshalling a fun run, managing money, driving people from A to B (and back) or even washing the muddy kit on a Sunday afternoon, it’s always been those taking part that everyone focuses on.
But our new volunteering strategy, Volunteering in an Active Nation, is looking to change those perceptions. We want to put the experience of the volunteer and increased diversity at the heart of efforts to support volunteers.
Volunteers who give their time for sport and physical activity to happen enjoy many of the benefits associated with actually taking part. When someone provides their time, energy and expertise as a volunteer there’s a double benefit – for those playing and for themselves. With this new strategy, we aim to harness and increase this dual benefit.
Our vision is as relevant for volunteers as for those taking part. We want everyone in England regardless of age, background or level of ability to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity.
Some will be young, fit and talented, but most will not. We need a sport and physical activity sector that welcomes everyone – meets their needs, treats them as individuals and values them as customer.
Our new strategy focuses on:
- Encouraging new volunteers: Barriers to volunteering still exist, in particular around perceptions of what a volunteer looks like. We want to bring in more people from underrepresented groups to make volunteering in sport and physical activity more diverse.
- New funding opportunities: We’re launching two new funds in January 2017 to support projects for groups where we’ve identified significant untapped potential.
- Supporting people who already volunteer: 5.6 million people currently do a great job volunteering in sport and physical activity. We’ve set aside £3 million so that Club Matters can continue to support volunteers in sports clubs.
- Getting the message across: We'll be tracking how many people are volunteering using our Active Lives survey. We'll also use employer-supported volunteering to see where there are opportunities for us and our partners.
To give volunteers and recruiters all the support they need, we’ve compiled a comprehensive question and answer section that covers everything from how to find opportunities, to getting the most out of volunteering.