The pandemic has seen a significant increase in volunteering initiatives, most noticeably the NHS volunteering campaign that was launched during the first lockdown and more recently volunteering in support of the vaccination programme.
There is a huge opportunity to sustain this beyond the pandemic by keeping millions of volunteers active through a scheme to create engaging volunteering opportunities. This would benefit volunteers, for whom volunteering is a fulfilling activity, and the organisations they volunteer with, who can access varied resource by means of volunteers without significant outlay, alike.
Fostering volunteering over the longer term could also help develop a greater sense of community in our society. The pandemic has already started this process, as people have been forced to stay local and have relied on support from community assets including local advice charities, food banks and support networks. We should boost this now through incentivising volunteering with community assets. A greater sense of community is valuable not only to individuals engaging directly with community assets but to society at large: a strong sense of community enriches society.
This scheme can be achieved in combination with a change to council tax policy. Community assets should be rewarded for creating meaningful volunteering opportunities out of ring-fenced community funds established by local authorities using council tax.