2020 and the Covid-pandemic has seen the greatest outpouring of civil society in a generation. On release, the NHS Responder App attracted 750,000 volunteer applicants and over 1m missions were completed, in addition to the 1000’s of mutual aid groups that sprang up across the country.
The opportunity to capture civil society through making volunteering the norm has never been stronger. However, the challenge in sustaining this good is already evident. The NHS Responder App’s future purpose is to support NHS needs, leaving swathes of unmet needs outside of the NHS. Mutual Aid support has declined over time, lacking mass coordination and simple ability to efficiently process refunds for shopping, as well as the effect of lockdown easing.
The crisis in care, however, was here pre-Covid: there are 1.4 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, with over half of all people aged 75+ living alone (Age UK). Families are struggling to manage care for their loved ones, which leaves a heavy reliance on expensive professional care, even for basic needs like shopping and companionship. In addition there are 7m unpaid “friends and family” carers in the UK. Covid has made the situation worse and as the population ages, the trend is only set to continue.
At the same time, demand to supply help exists. Businesses give employees an estimated 11m days of volunteering time every year and Deloitte reports 70% of employees want to volunteer more often. However, “traditional” corporate volunteering simply does not work. Engagement in employee volunteering is just 14.3% (London Benchmarking Group), meaning 200m hours of corporate volunteering go unused. With numerous studies finding career choices, especially for millennials, are increasingly based on an employer’s social impact, the opportunity has never been stronger to help corporates engage their employees in volunteering en masse.