Volunteers’ Week: Volunteering in Bristol

Volunteers' Week 1-7 June 2019
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30 May, 2019


To mark Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June 2019), let’s examine the huge range of volunteers in Bristol. People of all ages give their time and energy to charities, community groups and social enterprises in the city and, without their contributions, Bristol would be a less supportive and inclusive place.

Volunteers’ Week is a chance to recognise the benefits of being a volunteer (whether you're new to it or you've volunteered for years), and the benefits of having volunteers in your organisation.  

Bristol City Council’s Quality of Life Index 2018-19 found that, on average:

  • 68% of Bristolians volunteer or help out in their community at least three times a year. Brislington East, Clifton and Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze are the wards with the highest percentage of community volunteers; Hartcliffe & Withywood, Southmead and Hotwells & Harbourside have the lowest percentage.
  • 15% of Bristolians volunteer with a charity. Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze, Cotham and Hotwells & Harbourside are the wards with the highest percentage of charity volunteers; Hartcliffe & Withywood, Hillfields and Bishopsworth have the lowest percentage.
  • 12% of Bristolians volunteer with a community group. Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze, Ashley and Avonmouth & Laurence Weston are the wards with the highest percentage of community group volunteers; Horfield, Clifton Down and Hengrove & Whitchurch Park have the lowest percentage.
  • 12% of Bristolians volunteer with another type of community group, such as a faith group. Brislington West, Stoke Bishop and Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze are the wards with the highest percentage of these volunteers; Cotham, Bedminster and Windmill Hill have the lowest percentage.

These statistics are a reminder that Bristol’s voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations are spread across the city, but it’s clear that certain types of volunteering are more popular in some neighbourhoods. Just because a ward has one of the lowest rates for one type of volunteer role, doesn’t mean residents aren’t potentially interested – maybe they don’t know what’s available, it’s not accessible, or they haven’t found something to fit around day-to-day commitments.

When asked what stops them getting involved in their community, 28% of Bristolians said they lack the information, 64% said they lack the time, 9% cited transport issues and 2% cited accessibility issues.

So, what can we do to improve these statistics?

  • VCSE organisations can re-examine the gaps that need filling by volunteers, and make a point to list short-term volunteering opportunities as well as long-term ones on the Voscur website. Volunteer vacancies will probably attract more people if they are accessible and they can be reached on foot or by public transport.
  • If you’re in charge of volunteers, book your place on Voscur’s Recruit and Retain Volunteers training course on Thursday 13 June. This session will make sure you find the right people, match them to the right roles, and keep them long-term.
  • Anyone thinking about volunteering should bookmark the Voscur jobs board and the volunteer page, and sign up to the ebulletin, which gives a weekly round-up of the latest vacancies.
  • Find out if your employer offers paid leave for volunteer work (known as Employer Supported Volunteering, or ESV). This frees up time for you to spend volunteering without losing out on income.

How will you mark Volunteers’ Week? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, using the hashtag #VolunteersWeek.