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The volunteering revolution: how did we get here?

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In recent weeks the nation has pulled out all the stops to volunteer and support each other during this uncertain time. Here’s how volunteering has developed, and how it is changing for GOOD. 

Back in 1962, a young man named Nigel Potter arrived in Glasgow from London to start voluntary work in an approved school, and became one of the first Community Service Volunteers, which is now rebranded at Volunteering Matters. Officially founded by Mora and Alec Dickson, (who also founded Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)), the charity  specialise in what is termed as “professional” volunteer support for older and disabled people, and young people with support needs and families. To volunteer you need to be able to commit a certain number of hours at regular times, and may need some experience in care work, but the impact that you could have on some of the most vulnerable people in our society is amazing. 

As organisations recognised the enthusiasm of young people who want to help, they started to try and make volunteering fun! The RockCorps scheme, set- up in 2003, inspires people to volunteer with the slogan “Give, Get Given.” More than 160,000 young people across the globe have given at least four hours each – totalling over 600,000 hours(!) to volunteering at more than 2,500 global charities – in return for tickets to live music gigs. Rock Corps came to the UK in 2008 and volunteers earned tickets to see Lady Gaga, Razorlight and Snoop Dogg live!

The 2012 London Olympics was a game-changer for volunteering, with 70,000 people volunteering as purple-clad games makers. The “makers” title made the volunteers feel front and centre of the games, rather than add-ons. You could even say that the success of the Olympics was down to these game-makers, who worked behind the scenes with relentless enthusiasm and energy to welcome guests, check tickets and steward events. 

Since the coronavirus outbreak, over 600,000 volunteers have been approved by the NHS to help those most at risk who are isolating at home from coronavirus, an incredible number which has so far totalled more than double the original target. Healthcare practitioners, pharmacists and social care staff have called on these volunteers to carry out around 35,000 tasks to date, including delivering medicines, shopping and making calls to check in on those isolating at home. Such an army of volunteers is absolutely unprecedented, and we are so proud.  

Covid-19 Mutual Aid groups have sprung in to action across the country. They provide an important lifeline to our communities during the UK lockdown by providing vital support to people in self-isolation or quarantine. As well as doing tasks for people in need, volunteers offer phone calls and online support to people who are struggling with loneliness and their mental health. 

Here at Komorabi, we are launching a new app to help people find volunteering opportunities right at their fingertips. We want to help people to donate their time, however much they have, to do something positive for their community or further afield. Any time spent volunteering is valuable. Whether you have a whole afternoon or only an hour available, we want to give you options for putting that time to good use to help others. Let’s keep the momentum going and make volunteering a habit, not a one off!

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