It is the chance in a generation to build something brilliant! It's a cross-sector, inclusive consultation to develop a shared, ambitious, and actions-focused vision for volunteering in England for the next 10 years, delivering a clear and optimistic plan for the future.
Our experience as a country during the COVID-19 pandemic showed people at their absolute best - stepping up to care for neighbours, look after their communities, and volunteer across a range of priorities to make sure we looked after or communities – with practical support such as food provision, with embedding some of the medical response to COVID-19 (particularly testing and vaccination sites), and with emotional and wellbeing support. We already knew that a large section of the British population take part in voluntary activities through both formal and informal routes, providing much-needed service support and enrichment of lives and communities of all shapes and sizes.
As we move towards the rebuilding stage and learn to live with the virus, we want to take the learning from the last year, along with the opportunity for systemic change which is presented, to make sure that volunteering in all its forms and guises is woven into the fabric of our country going forward. We want to make sure we have a collaborative, shared space where people can influence their own community and shape change, capitalising on the visibility and impact that the millions of volunteers have created and building a legacy of change and collaboration.
Through establishing a shared vision, we will articulate and better understand the challenges and opportunities for all those involved in volunteering, and use this understanding as the catalyst for discussion, to shape opportunity and enable inclusive, accessible and valuable volunteering in England. We firmly believe we can achieve so much more in partnership than we can when we try to do things on our own. The Vision for Volunteering is just the start of the changes we want to see and feel, as well as recognition of what works well and needs to remain. It's designed to link our common aspirations, highlight opportunities and challenges, overcome structural siloes, build common ownership of local and national considerations, and ensure that priorities and recommendations are built by us rather than for us.
Because this is what volunteering in England needs right now. As we begin to rebuild and recover from the impact of COVID-19, we are presented with a unique and necessary opportunity to share insight, learnings, and future aspirations, reflecting on our collective lessons learnt AND the need for proactive planning measures to be understood and embedded for the benefit of all.
Everyone! More specifically, all stakeholders who share common interest in volunteering in England and can benefit from a cross-sector vision that highlights the opportunities and challenges we collectively face as we plan for the future.
Not on this scale! This is an exciting opportunity to articulate a vision that is widely shared, along with some specific actions to encourage volunteering and take down barriers which stop people from taking part. We're pleased that the Government is encouraging us to develop the Vision for Volunteering and we look forward to sharing the actions and plans that come about from the consultation.
There are 6 agreed priority areas that the Vision for Volunteering will focus on, being:
- Health and wellbeing
- Employment and skills
- Resilient communities
- Healthy ageing
- Climate emergency
- Younger people leading change
They were chosen in recognition/anticipation of where volunteering in England will be front and centre and have the greatest impact over the next 10 years.
Volunteering is such a wide-ranging subject that we will never cover everything in detail. Our aim is to develop a framework which enables people and communities to respond, which facilitates better connections within the VCS and statutory and private sector partners. We want to make sure to include the many aspects of volunteering, whether it be about service delivery and improvement, civic contribution, democratic engagement or building more resilient communities.
We recognise there are likely to be additional issues that may not directly correlate to these priority areas. Through our wide, cross-sector consultation and the evolutionary nature of this shared vision, we aim to draw valuable insight from those that frequently contribute in that space to contribute to the overall Vision for Volunteering.
We aim to complete the workshops phase of the consultation by the end of November, moving us towards a second round of high-level stakeholder consultation immediately after. We plan to have an initial draft ready for review/feedback by the end of the year ahead of a formal launch in early 2022. It is important to stress that this consultation is just the start of an ambitious, actions-led focus of volunteering in England over the next 10 years, and we will need to keep coming back to it to review and revise.
The team are very keen and aware of the need for this consultation to be an accurate representation of the diverse communities in England. As such, we are proactively seeking out participation and shared insights from those across all intersects of volunteering, including those who engage with seldom heard and under-represented communities. In addition, we are aiming to establish a consultation process that is as accessible as possible. We will work with organisations to tailor the structure so that it is accessible, digestible, and actionable by wide audiences.
We are currently finalising the dates for each of the workshops and will share these shortly. We will then communicate registration links for people to sign up to participate.
Following the initial workshops phase, the Vision for Volunteering project team will be constructing an 'Engagement Toolkit', specifically designed for wider audience engagement. This is an opportunity for the outputs from the workshops to be collectively 'sense checked' with the wider community, as well as an opportunity for the consultation to gain further insights and understanding through our network of networks.
Absolutely - and we welcome these contributions. Our ambitions are to gain as much insight and viewpoints as is possible during the consultation period, recognising that a collectively owned vision must be informed and shaped by a wide group.
Shortly we will announce and publish the exact mechanisms by which individuals and organisations can share these insights, which will include registering for workshops, submitting an insights paper, and engaging your network in the consultation via the 'Engagement Toolkit'.
You are also most welcome to link in directly with members of the Vision for Volunteering project team.
Good question! We aim to finish the consultation by early 2022 and, after looking closely at everything that people have said, to develop a framework and action plan by March 2022. We'll be sharing that widely with stakeholders including Government, local government, charity funders, looking for their commitment and endorsement to the recommendations. If we succeed, by 2031 the visibility and impact of volunteering will match the commitment people make every single day. We'll have more people feeling volunteering is something they can do, and we'll have taken huge steps to making volunteering a part of everyday life, just like watching sport or going out with friends.
We have a signup form on the Vision for Volunteering website which will ensure you receive regular updates as we move our way through the consultation. It can be accessed by clicking here.