Fewer helping hands

By Sonia Isaacs

ALMOST a third of volunteers have not returned to their roles following the Covid pandemic a new study released for National Volunteer Week has found.
This week (May 15-21) recognises the integral role volunteers play in society and celebrates the millions of volunteers who donate their time to make change in communities. It also encourages others to consider putting their hand up.
Volunteering Australia research revealed that following the lifting of pandemic restrictions over two thirds (69 per cent) of volunteers have returned back to their organisation.
But 75 per cent of respondents who had tried to recruit new volunteers indicated that it has become more difficult following the pandemic.
The biggest concern was the ageing of current volunteers and fewer younger people offering their time.
Volunteering Queensland chief executive, Mara Basanovic, said the main barrier to volunteering was that many people now felt they don’t have the time.
She said she was encouraged to see organisations offer more flexible schedules and the opportunity for remote volunteering.
“This is something we can hope to see more of in the future: opportunities to volunteer that fit people’s busy life and let anyone, anywhere get involved,” she said.
“Volunteering in your local area has fewer overheads and some volunteer involving organisations can offer reimbursements, so we encourage volunteers to look around for opportunities that meet their needs.”
Ms Basanovic said another barrier identified by VA was cost or the perception of additional expenses incurred through volunteering.
With the cost of living rising potential volunteers were being held back by concerns of extra expenses.
Ms Basanovic said it was clear that fewer people were volunteering through organisations, with some volunteers – especially vulnerable groups not having the full confidence to return.
“This is true for some young people as well, who might have volunteered through their school or university but instead studied from home,” she said.
“Whatever your situation, National Volunteer Week is a great time to give it a go. If you don’t know where to start, try searching for roles on the Volunteering Queensland website – there’s something for everyone.”
The data also revealed the positive side of volunteering including that for almost 72 per cent of volunteers, personal satisfaction, and the desire to do something worthwhile were primary motivations.
Helping others and the community is also a significant motivator, with 61 per cent of volunteers indicating this as a driving factor.
Some of the barriers that may impede people from offering their time such as distance, family and work commitments and financial considerations. National Volunteer Week 2023 is a celebration of the power of the community to drive change and ensure volunteering is inclusive for everyone. volunteeringaustralia.org