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Big Help Out calls for more volunteering after almost 6mn participate on big day

Melanie May | 9 May 2023 | News

Hands pick up a plastic bottle from a sandy beach and put it in a blue plastic bag. By Marta Ortigosa on Pexels

Yesterday’s Big Help Out saw some 6 million give up their time through volunteering, according to the organisers. They are now calling for the Big Help Out to become a regular event, and for people to sign up to other upcoming volunteering opportunities including Volunteers’ Week, and Thank You Day.

Polling for the Big Help Out suggests that around 6 million took part on the Coronation bank holiday Monday, including the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, who volunteered with 3rd Upton Scouts, renovating their meeting place. 55,123 events were scheduled to take place around the UK, organised by 33,228 organisations.

The Big Help Out is now calling for people to take part in June’s Volunteers’ Week, which is organised by NCVO and takes place from 1-7 June. It sees small grassroots organisations as well as larger, household-name charities run activities across the UK, showcasing and celebrating volunteers and their work.

This will be followed in July by Thank You Day, which the Big Help Out is also encouraging people to participate in. Last year saw 3.35mn people help organise an event, with 37% of those polled saying they were more likely to volunteer. This year’s event, on Sunday 2 July, is the third outing for the day, which began with organisations looking for a way to enable people to say ‘thank you’ to everyone that helped the UK through the pandemic.

The Big Help Out was founded by the Shaping the Future with Volunteering Group, which includes some of Britain’s largest volunteer-involving charities and is co-chaired by Scouts and Royal Voluntary Service. The Group worked in partnership with The Together Coalition to deliver the event, supported by DCMS and the Royal Households.

Yesterday’s event followed research from the NCVO, released at the beginning of May, which showed that volunteering levels have yet to recover from the impact of the pandemic. The full Time Well Spent 2023 report will be released next month, but key findings already released showed a drop in some key volunteering activities, including raising money or taking part in sponsored events, organising or helping to run activities, and campaigning on behalf of a group, club or organisation. 

At the time NCVO Chief Executive Sarah Vibert said:

“The data shows the impact of Covid on volunteering has been profound. People who were lifelong volunteers broke their habit during the pandemic and haven’t yet got back to it. Given how important volunteering is to our social fabric – and how much people get out of it – we need an urgent focus on helping people find opportunities that suit them.”