Volunteering trends are shifting.
However, this isn’t new information.
The latest research from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) shows that there has been a gradual decline in the numbers of adults getting involved with regular volunteering activities nationally since 2010.
The picture is no different in Gainsborough, with less than half of the number of people coming to the Volunteer Centre to find out about volunteering a there were five years ago.
But this doesn’t mean that people aren’t volunteering.
It means they are engaging in different types of activity, such as microvolunteering, online advocacy and campaigning.
They are just getting on with it .
And that’s great, but it means our smallest, local community groups are missing out on the massive impact that volunteers can make in our communities.
It’s easy to sit at home and share a petition about something happening 1000 miles away.
But our lunch clubs and scout groups and befriending services are all suffering because people aren’t leaving their houses to volunteer.
Far from wishing to put down anyone volunteering from home, I want to encourage our local organisations to use this information to change their approach to volunteering.
Knowing that people want to get involved with smaller actions, more frequently; that they want to get involved online or from home, helps us.
Because as volunteering organisations we can respond to this.
We can change our role descriptions and activities.
We can look at new ways for people to support our projects and make these opportunities more attractive.
We need to challenge ourselves to look at some of our more traditional volunteering roles and find ways to make these roles accessible to our new generation of volunteers.
And it isn’t just young people changing their views on volunteering.
In fact, trends suggest that older groups, parents and working professionals are keen to volunteer.
But they aren’t able to find the smaller, less time consuming roles that suit their modern lifestyle.
So here’s my call to action.
People of the Gainsborough community, if you want to be getting out and about and making a real difference, come and challenge us to find that role.
Let us know what you what to do.
Challenge us to challenge the organisations we work with to think harder and more creatively about how you can get involved.
I know there are people in this community who want to make a real difference.
So let’s find a way to make it happen.
The volunteer centre in West Lindsey offers one-to-one advice and support to community groups.
We are based in the Guildhall and open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
Call 01427 613470 or visit voluntarycentreservices.org.uk to book.
Heather Arnatt is the area co-ordinator for Voluntary Centre Services in West Lindsey.