Revealed: the modern volunteer in Scotland

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New research has given a comprehensive picture of the types of people who are volunteering in Scotland

6th December 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Comprehensive new research has given an insight into what volunteers in Scotland look like.

Volunteer Scotland has used data from the Scottish Household Survey to present an analysis of the types of people that give up their time to help the community.

The study shows that 27% of Scots took part in volunteering in 2016, a total of 1.2 million adults.

The link between volunteer participation and deprivation is clear, with 35% of those living in the least deprived areas of Scotland volunteering compared to 18% of those in the highest areas of deprivation.

Feeling engaged in the community also comes across as a key factor, with those who volunteer more likely to feel like they can help make decisions in their area and wanting to be more involved in making these decisions.

And those who feel healthy are far more likely to give up their time than those of poor health. A third of adults who volunteer said they were of very good health, 27% of good health but only 11% of bad or very bad health.

Matthew Linning, strategic performance manager at Volunteer Scotland, said Scots are more likely to volunteer if they are of good health, involved in sport and visit the outdoors daily.

“What we have got here is pretty comprehensive data that shows if individuals have certain circumstances in life it gives them a predisposition to volunteering,” he said.

“If you are active, healthy and involved in sport, you are much more likely to volunteer. If you are engaged in the community, want to be engaged in the community or feel you can influence your community then you’re more likely to volunteer.”

Although some of the findings fit with wider research on health and deprivation, the study also provides wider details on the type of people that volunteer. Perhaps surprisingly, 39% of those with caring responsibilities also volunteer, compared to 25% for those who do not have to care for a loved one. Four in 10 (42%) of those who care for five to 19 hours every week take part in volunteering, and 28% of those with more than 50 hours of caring responsibilities still find time to volunteer.

How many children and adult has also affects their involvement. The rate of volunteering for those with three children or more was 43%, compared to 25% for those without children.

13% of volunteers never use the internet and only 20% of widowers volunteer (compared to 30% for those who are married).

Only 21% of those who said they were of low mental health volunteer and Linning said one of the striking things from the research is that those who could benefit most from taking part in volunteering are less likely to take part.

He said: “The bitter irony is that it is those individuals who are far less likely to volunteer that could benefit most from volunteering. It is much more difficult for those individuals to get engaged with volunteering. This is one of the big challenges that Volunteer Scotland and our partners have to tackle.”

The full findings and highlights from the report are available to download from the Volunteer Scotland website.