National Volunteers’ Week: Celebrating Britain’s Unsung Heroes

volunteer2015 marks the 31st annual Volunteers’ Week in the UK. From 1 June to 7 June Britain celebrates the nation’s great volunteer sector that is a backbone of many communities across the country.

The enormous power of volunteering in Britain has a rich history which dates back to the times of voluntary hospitals during the 12th and 13th centuries. As volunteering evolved, countless men and women joined forces to quell civil unrest, provide relief for the suffering and promote international development. Defined as “an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than [or in addition to] close relatives” in the official 2005 framework agreement between government and civil society, volunteering still has a prevalent place in today’s society.

Today, Britain’s army of volunteers are consistently named as ‘unsung heroes’ and provide a lifeline to charities and the public sector. Martyn Lewis, one of the leading voices in the charity sector, has called for public sector contracts to be awarded to volunteering groups in the wake of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service ceremony. 187 individuals were awarded during the 2015 ceremony, which is now in its 13th year. The growth of volunteering in the UK, according to Mr Lewis, is a result of joint efforts to plug service gaps caused by spending cuts and partly because more companies are creating corporate responsibility programmes.

Those who are struggling to find work also take up voluntary posts to increase their skills and boost their CV’s. A recent survey conducted by charity, Revitalise, has reaffirmed the benefits of volunteering for young people. 48% of those who took part in the survey said that volunteering has help them gain a paid employment position, while 80% said that volunteering has improved their employability.

The contributions made by millions of volunteers across the UK are vital to community services, business and events, from individual help to national sporting events like the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. During this landmark sporting event, 70,000 unpaid men and women were named as the driving force behind its success. Approximately eight million hours of voluntary work was carried out from the Olympics’ opening ceremony on 27 July to its spectacular close on 12 August. Those who took part continued the long-standing tradition of volunteering at Olympic Games since the voluntary sector was first used during the 1948 Games in London.

The argument of whether it is acceptable to replace paid employees with volunteers, particularly in the public sector, has not deterred many from giving their time to help the wider community. Although volunteering efforts are difficult to measure, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has reported that 15 million people now volunteer every month and volunteering contributed approximately £23.9bn to the UK economy between 2012 and 2013.

NCVO, Volunteer Development Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action have once again joined forces to say thank you to Britain’s valuable volunteers in 2015. As part of the week-long Volunteers’ Week campaign, which was first held in 1984, groups, charities and organisations are staging events from ceremonies and roadshows to barbeques and tea parties.


Volunteering is a proven method for boosting your skills and career prospects. boasts an award-winning approach which focuses on growing communities from the grassroots up. Businesses looking to advertise a volunteering role can be posted across the platform completely FREE of charge. Please fill out our simple online form today or call us on 01273 651100 to receive information and advice.

Thinking of volunteering? Check out volunteering opportunities in Coastal West Sussex.

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