Nearly a year ago we launched our new website, which included an online volunteering portal, giving local volunteer involving organisations the chance to upload their current roles, and allowing local people to find and apply for new opportunities.
An additional benefit of the website is the insight that it gives us into volunteering across the district and it has been really interesting looking at the data and seeing what we can learn from it to help to make the volunteer experience in Lancaster and Morecambe better.
Almost twice as many people identifying as female volunteer as those who identify as male. Many organisations that work with children and young people report that they would like to encourage more male volunteers, so this is something that we would like to change.
Over 70% of volunteers locally are between the ages of 26 and 64, with the majority, just, between 26 and 44 years old. Many people volunteer to help them in a search for paid work, with volunteering giving them new skills, allowing them to brush up on existing skills, and providing a recent, relevant reference when applying for a paid job.
The overwhelming majority of people who volunteer say that they do not have a disability and do not need additional support to volunteer. We know of course that the data only reflects people who come forward to volunteer and we know that many people living with a disability want to volunteer but perhaps feel that the opportunities for them are limited. Again, this is a perception that we would like to change and we are working hard to provide opportunities for volunteering to everyone.
Something that surprised us about the data collected from the last 12 months is that almost 90% of searches done on our website for volunteering opportunities were looking specifically for COVID related roles, supporting people through the pandemic. We had expected that, since the restrictions had been lifted, people would want to return to what we might call ‘traditional’ volunteering, but there is still an appetite for supporting people through COVID.
The website data is just one source of information that the Volunteer Centre uses to improve opportunities for volunteering, and we will continue to work with partners to deliver for Lancaster and Morecambe.