Why is volunteering important?

As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers' wellbeing too.

It’s human nature to feel good after helping someone out. Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost your confidence.

If you’re interested in volunteering, here’s how to get started and some volunteering stories to inspire you.

  • 16.3m people volunteered through a group, club or organisation in 2020/21.
  • Most people have formally volunteered at some point in their lives, dipping in and out of involvement over time.
  • Volunteering patterns changed substantially during the pandemic.
  • Almost one in five (17%) people reported volunteering at least once a month, about 9.2m people.
  • Less visible is informal volunteering, which includes a wider range of activities including unpaid help for someone who is not a relative. In 2020/21, 54% of the population (29.4m) volunteered informally at least once a year and 33% (17.9m) did so at least once a month.

Read the volunteering statistics from NCVO’s UK Civil Society Almanac 2021.

Volunteers’ Week is about recognising all of those who have continued delivering vital work as volunteers over the past 12 months, acknowledging the huge number of first-time volunteers in communities around the country, and also saying thank you to all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of the ongoing pandemic.

Volunteers are always working at the heart of every UK community. It is hard to overstate the incredible impact they have made during an incredibly challenging year. The pandemic has rightly raised the profile of volunteering and more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by the amazing volunteers across the UK.

We must ensure this recognition continues. That is why, on this 38th annual Volunteers’ Week and as we celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, it’s time to say: thank you, volunteers!

Sarah Vibert, chief executive at NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), which coordinates Volunteers’ Week in England