Formal volunteering at lowest levels since 2012

Formal volunteering
Image Credit: 
Kevin Grieve via Unsplash
30 July, 2019


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has released findings from its latest Community Life Survey.

The annual survey provides official statistics on issues that are important to encouraging social action and empowering communities, including volunteering, giving, community engagement, well-being and loneliness.

Key findings from this year’s report include:


  • 36 per cent of people formally volunteered at least once in the year to March 2019, the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 2012.
  • 49 percent who did not volunteer said work commitments were a barrier to volunteering while 35 per cent said they had other things to do in their spare time.
  • 45 percent of people that do volunteer said wanting to improve things and help people was a reason they did so.
  • 31 per cent said they volunteered because the cause was really important to them.

Social action

  • Only 25 percent felt able to influence decisions affecting their area, yet 52 percent wanted to be more involved in decision making.
  • 15 per cent of respondents said they had been involved in social action at least once in the last year.
  • 22 percent of those living in rural areas took part in social action compared to only 13 percent in urban areas.
  • Only 11 percent of those living in deprived areas took part in social action, compared to 19 percent in the most affluent areas.

Charitable giving

  • Three quarters of respondents gave money to charity in the last four months.
  • The average amount given in the four weeks prior to the survey was £24. 
  • Women and older people reported giving more than men and younger people.


  • 6 percent of adults said that they felt lonely often or always.
  • Surprisingly, the proportion of people feeling lonely was highest amongst those aged 16-24 (9 percent), amongst those aged 65-74 it was 4 percent.
  • People living in urban areas are more likely to feel lonely than those in rural areas; the more deprived the area, the more likely you are to feel lonely.
  • 14 percent of people with life limiting long term disabilities feel lonely, compared to 4 percent amongst those who have no such disability.