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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Worrying decline in volunteer participation


Figures published as part of Scottish Household Survey results. 

Volunteer Scotland are concerned by the latest Scottish Household Survey results for 2022 which show a significant decline in volunteer participation. 

22% of Scotland’s adult population volunteered for an organisation or group in 2022, a four percentage point decline compared with 2019.

Research published by Volunteer Scotland over the past 18 months has indicated that people’s capacity to volunteer has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis. 

These events have impacted on people’s mental wellbeing, making it more difficult to prioritise volunteering. 

People are also experiencing practical barriers to volunteering such as rising travel costs and the need to work longer hours.

In 2018, it was estimated that volunteering is worth £5.5billion to Scotland’s economy. Any significant decline in volunteer participation will add considerable pressure to the public purse at a time when the purse strings are particularly tight.

Alan Stevenson, CEO of Volunteer Scotland, said: “These latest SHS results are concerning, but not surprising. The potential implications of a significant decline in volunteering for Scottish communities are considerable. We must invest in Scotland’s Volunteering Action Plan, particularly those actions which promote inclusive and lifelong volunteer participation, to try and reverse this decline.”

Volunteers are essential for ensuring Scotland’s communities function and thrive. 

They are often on the frontline of the response to the cost of living crisis through food banks or advice services for example. 

Volunteers support activity responding to the climate crisis, both during weather emergencies and in proactive efforts to limit the effects of climate change.

They also support Scotland’s public services, giving their time in NHS settings, supporting education or in the provision of care or respite services.



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