4.1 Report 1 of GLEWG notes that the Commonwealth Games offers the opportunity to get the Scottish public involved, or further involved, in volunteering in all sorts of ways. Recruitment of volunteers for the Games is currently underway - it is estimated that around 15,000 volunteers will be needed over the course of the event - and will continue until the end of 2013. A host of other, related volunteering initiatives are also underway, including EventTeam Scotland, People Making Waves, Youth Legacy Ambassadors and the Host City Ambassador Programme .
4.2 Not only is volunteering crucial to the successful delivery of all major sporting events, but it can bring important subsidiary benefits to volunteers themselves; not least gains in qualifications, skills and confidence that might improve their chances in the job market.
4.3 The key research question that the Legacy Evaluation will address in respect of volunteering is: 'Have legacy investments and programmes which aim to support people into volunteering contributed to change?' To answer this question it will be necessary to assess both levels of volunteering over time and the extent to which any increases in volunteering can be attributed directly to legacy investments and programmes.
Levels of volunteering
4.4 In the 2010 sweep of Understanding Society, respondents were asked if they had given any unpaid help or worked as a volunteer for any type of local, national or international organisation over the preceding 12 months. Seventeen per cent in Scotland said they had done so, which is significantly lower than the comparable figure recorded in the 2009/10 Scottish Household Survey (30%).
4.5 In Understanding Society those who said they had given unpaid help or worked as a volunteer were presented with a list of organisation types and asked how often over the preceding 12 months they had done something to help any of these. The list included: a public limited company; a nationalised industry/state corporation; central government or civil service; local government; a university or other grant-funded education establishments; a health authority or NHS trust; a charity, voluntary organisation or trust; and the armed forces.
4.6 A total of 54% of respondents had given up their time at least once a fortnight, while 14% had done so a least once a month and 33% had done so less regularly (Table 4.1).
|3 days or more a week
|Twice a week
|Once a week
|Once a fortnight
|At least once a month
|Quite often but not regularly
|Just a few times
|One off activity
|On a seasonal basis
Source: Understanding Society, 2010
4.7 All those who had done something to help any of the organisations were asked how many hours over the preceding four weeks they had spent doing this. Just over a quarter (28%) said zero hours, while a similar proportion (27%) said between 1 and 4 hours, 21% said between 5 and 10 hours, and 24% said 11 hours or more. The mean number of hours respondents had spent doing unpaid or voluntary work was 9.
4.8 A module of questions on volunteering also appeared in the autumn 2008 and spring 2012 waves of the Glasgow Household Survey (GHS), giving a robust measure of activity at the Glasgow level.
4.9 A total of 11% of respondents in 2008 and 15% in 2012 said they had given up their time to help others on a voluntary basis over the preceding 12 months. These figures are again lower than the comparable SHS data but more in line with the headline result (17%) from Understanding Society.
4.10 As table 4.2 shows, roughly half of the GHS respondents who had volunteered had done so formally (i.e. through an organisation, club or charity), while the remainder had volunteered informally (defined as giving unpaid help as an individual to people who are not relatives, such as neighbours).
Source: Glasgow Household Survey
4.11 Those who had volunteered formally were asked how they found out about volunteering opportunities. In the spring 2012 survey, the most common response was word of mouth, mentioned by around half of respondents (47%), followed by a referral from someone in a professional capacity (16%) and the internet (5%). Other sources were mentioned by fewer than five per cent of respondents.
Source: Glasgow Household Survey
4.12 Almost all of those who had volunteered formally reported that they had benefitted personally from doing so. In the spring 2012 survey, around a third said volunteering had aided their personal development (35%), given them a sense of personal achievement (35%), or increased their knowledge of the local community (30%), while around a quarter (23%) said it had enabled them to develop transferable skills. Smaller proportions mentioned other benefits (figure 4.2), while 11% said they had gained no personal benefits from volunteering.
Source: Glasgow Household Survey
4.13 The Life Opportunities Survey collects a limited amount of data on volunteering. Respondents are presented with a list of activities; one of which is 'charitable or voluntary work', and asked which of these they have done as much as they would have liked over the preceding 12 months. In the 2009-2011 wave of the survey, almost nine in ten (87%) respondents with an impairment, and a similar proportion of those without an impairment (85%), said they had done as much charitable or voluntary work as they would have liked. While this is to some extent an encouraging finding, it does not necessarily tell us that around nine in ten of the respondents in each case had actually done such work; merely that they were content with their current level of volunteering - some could have done no charitable or voluntary work and been entirely content with this.
4.14 Robust Scotland-wide data on volunteering is collected in Understanding Society and the Scottish Household Survey; although the absolute level of volunteering recorded in the former study (17%) is appreciably lower than in the latter (30%).
4.15 The lower level of volunteering recorded in Understanding Society may in part be a function of question structure and wording. Respondents are asked simply whether they have given any unpaid help or worked as a volunteer for any type of local, national or international organisation. The SHS module, in contrast, begins with a question that asks: 'Have you given up any time to help any clubs, charities, campaigns or organisations. I mean in an unpaid capacity'. All respondents who state that they have not given up any time are subsequently presented with a comprehensive list of different types of groups/ organisation then asked: 'have you undertaken any work or given unpaid help to any of these types of groups or organisations at any time in the last 12 months'. It may be that the SHS approach - in terms of both the specific reference to clubs, charities, campaigns and organisations in the first question, and the use of the list of organisations in the second - prompts better recall of volunteering and thus elicits more accurate data on the subject. For this reason we would suggest that the SHS currently provides better national, population-level data on the incidence of volunteering in Scotland than Understanding Society. The Understanding Society data could be considered alongside the SHS data to allow for an assessment of the longevity of volunteering - that is, whether or not those individuals who become involved in volunteering around the time of the Games remain so over subsequent years.
4.16 At the sub-Scotland level, the GHS provides a robust source of data on volunteering in Glasgow city. However, the question used to assess the level of volunteering is similar to that used in Understanding Society and, as in that survey, the figure it elicits (15% in 2012) is lower than the comparable result from the SHS. Again, therefore, we would recommend that the GHS question be brought more in line with the SHS one.
4.17 The GHS sample size is not sufficiently large to provide a measure of volunteering at the East End level. However, the GoWell survey has the potential to plug this gap to an extent. The question used in GoWell is similar but not identical to that used in the SHS. We would recommend a consistent approach across the two surveys to provide improved opportunities for comparison of national-, city- and local-level data.
4.18 Very little robust data is available on volunteering among young people, so the Government might consider adding relevant questions to a schools omnibus survey. There is also limited robust data on volunteering among people with a disability, although the SHS provides some opportunity for analysis in this regard.
4.19 An important limitation of all of the current data sources on volunteering is the lack of any questions that might provide for an assessment of the impact of the Commonwealth Games (for example, questions that ask about people's reasons for volunteering). It will be important that this gap is filled in order to address fully the research question. Additionally, but less crucially, a national level question on how people have benefitted from volunteering, similar to that currently included in the GHS, would provide for an assessment of the extent to which volunteering is contributing to the Scottish Government's broader 'Flourishing' objective.
Email: Niamh O'Connor
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