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Calls to protect volunteers as community engagement grows

ByLatestNews

Jul 8, 2024
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As new research from The National Lottery Community Fund [1] reveals a growing enthusiasm for volunteering among UK adults, Ansvar Insurance is calling on charities and organisations across Scotland to prioritise the safety and management of their volunteer programmes.

The research indicates that half of UK adults (a slight increase on last year) plan to volunteer in 2024, with 14% intending to volunteer for the first time, citing food banks, animal welfare, and charity shops as the most popular initiatives to get involved with.

In Scotland specifically (according to the latest data from the Scottish Household Survey [2]), 22% of residents volunteered in 2022.

The benefits of volunteering, such as providing young people with new life skills and reducing loneliness among the elderly, have become increasingly recognised, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

While a growing number of  volunteers is a positive development for charities, it also presents challenges in managing safety and risk. Proper risk management is crucial not only for attracting volunteers but also for retaining them and maintaining the organisation’s reputation.

Kelly Barter, Head of Customer Service at Ansvar, an expert provider of insurance for the charity, not-for-profit, care and faith sectors, commented:

“Volunteers are the backbone of charitable and community organisations and play a pivotal role in sustaining vital services across Scotland. However, ensuring their safety and protection is essential. When planning events, the focus is often on activities and fundraising, but the administrative aspects, such as providing adequate supervision, organising appropriate training, completing comprehensive risk assessments, ensuring specialist insurance coverage is in place, and providing a safe environment for volunteers, can sometimes get overlooked.

“Effective risk management protects volunteers and enhances their satisfaction and retention. Volunteers are more likely to stay engaged when they feel safe and valued, leading to a positive and long-lasting experience.”

Ansvar is part of the Benefact Group, the charity-owned specialist financial services organisation. The Benefact Group stands as the UK’s third-largest corporate donor, reinforcing Ansvar’s commitment to supporting the broader charitable community.

[1] https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/insights/2023-24-community-research-index

[2] https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-household-survey-2022-key-findings/pages/10/