Better online volunteering service would inspire more activity

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Easier access to volunteering opportunities online would have a significant impact on people taking part in more physical activity, according to a survey by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

  • Over a third (36%) of people agreed that an online hub of volunteering opportunities in sport and recreation would encourage them to do more physical activity.
  • 25-34-year-olds account for just 12% of sport and physical activity volunteers in England.
  • Over half (51%) of 25-34 year-olds agree that having sport and physical activity volunteering opportunities in one online location would encourage them to get involved.

4 June 2018 – Easier access to volunteering opportunities online would have a significant impact on people taking part in more physical activity, according to a survey by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

A central online tool to find local clubs and events which need volunteers would attract over a third of people (36%) to commit more to sport and recreation.

This presents an opportunity for the sector, by improving the quality of online information about local opportunities, the numbers involved in activity will rise.

From tomorrow, the Alliance will make finding the right role as easy as possible by formally launching the Volunteer Opportunity Finder. This forms part of our celebrations recognising the value of volunteers during Volunteers’ Week.

This online tool, available on the Sport and Recreation Alliance website, follows ground-breaking behavioural science research, which has provided new evidence and insight into what drives people to help out and join in.

These insights have been distilled into a simple framework named GIVERS, designed to help grassroots clubs and organisations recruit, retain and reward volunteers.

The most recent Active Lives survey has also shown that 25-34-year-olds make up only 12% of sport and recreation volunteers in England.

Creating this central hub of volunteering opportunities can boost numbers and push participation according to Emma Boggis, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

“Sport and recreation volunteers play a big part in getting the nation more active, improving wellbeing and building communities.

“We know there is a direct link between volunteering and increased engagement in physical activity. A better way to access opportunities will have a positive impact on the sector.

“Our new Volunteer Opportunity Finder will encourage involvement with a simple and easy way to find activities and make a real difference, including for those in the under-represented 25-34 age range.

“It has been shown through the GIVERS research that the ease of getting involved is a key motivator for people to take part.

“By getting this process right, we can make a happier and healthier nation while building stronger communities across the UK.”

The Sport and Recreation Alliance has introduced the Volunteer Opportunity Finder to easily connect volunteers to events and clubs they can help at.

This free platform will benefit those operating at all levels of the sector and will help maintain and grow a vibrant sport and recreation sector that is fit for the future.

CASE STUDY: parkrun – Sloan Medical Centre, Sheffield

The impact of creating an active nation and strong community through willing volunteers can be proudly shown at a parkrun event staged in Yorkshire.

parkrun has grown significantly since it was introduced in 2004. Over 140,000 people take part each week with an army of 14,000 volunteers helping at events across the country.

300 of those participants get active at the Graves parkrun, set-up by Sloan Medical Centre in Sheffield six years ago. The staff and patients raised the initial event start-up costs with a sponsored run in the park and it was matched by the local council to reach the required total.

The original volunteers were mostly from the practice with Dr Ollie Hart as Event Director.

Through association, many of the Centre’s staff and patients are regular runners, walkers or volunteers at Graves parkrun.

Dr Hart knows of people with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, airway disease, mental health issues and other conditions, who have all benefited hugely from a ‘life changing’ connection with parkrun.

He states that, as an intervention, helping to start Graves parkrun and having a close association with the event, has had the biggest health impact of anything he has done in his career so far.

CASE STUDY: Hillingdon Slipstreamers – cycling charity, Uxbridge

Hillingdon Slipstreamers embody the meaning of community engagement. Slipstreamers is a registered cycling charity based in Hillingdon, Uxbridge that is truly committed to empowering and developing their volunteers.

The club is run entirely by volunteers and it works to promote safe cycling, improving riding skills and working to maintain the health of under 16-year olds. The charity was founded in 1998 by a small group of volunteers that actively worked to engage with the local community.

With a current volunteer workforce of over 70 unpaid adult volunteers ranging from 18 to 80 years, there are various opportunities for their volunteers to choose what to get involved with. 

Slipstreamers were awarded the Volunteering Award at the Community Sport and Recreation Awards in 2017 for their youth leaders volunteering programme. The programme has a growing pool of over 25 young volunteers aged 14-18.

The club also takes the time to nominate fellow volunteers for other awards. Using the GIVERS framework which recruits, rewards and retains volunteers through a recognition system that serves to remind just how important the work that volunteers carry out. 

The Volunteer Opportunity Finder is available here: