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Stirling research supports new volunteering framework

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A new framework aiming at getting people involved in volunteering – and developed with the support of University of Stirling research – has been launched by the Scottish Government.

A team from the Faculty of Social Sciences led a systematic review of research literature on volunteering, studying more than 100 research papers to identify volunteer characteristics; motivations; activities; benefits; outcomes; barriers; and learning points from policies in other countries. 

They found a number of inequalities that prevent people from taking part in altruistic activities, including distinct challenges for traditionally excluded and disadvantaged groups and those from less-affluent backgrounds. 

Following their research, the team developed 14 recommendations which directly fed into the development of the new framework.  

Professor Alasdair Rutherford, who led the study, said: “We are proud to have been able to contribute to the development of the new Volunteering Outcomes Framework and to have worked with so many dedicated organisations to increase and enhance positive volunteering opportunities.

“The focus on practical, structural and emotional barriers to volunteering, and the importance of place within the framework, is particularly welcome.”

Officially launched by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell, the Volunteering Outcomes Framework aims to reduce barriers to volunteering for people from all sections of the community, regardless of their background. It will support third, private and public sector organisations to promote the value of volunteering, celebrate the contributions that have already been made and encourage everyone who wants to volunteer to take part. 

The framework also aims to build more links with communities, seeking opportunities to share resources and expertise at a grassroots level.

Ms Campbell said: “Volunteering brings enormous enjoyment and advantages to beneficiaries, volunteers and the wider community. We know that volunteering has many positive benefits including increasing social and civil participation, empowering communities, and reducing loneliness and isolation. It can also improve mental and physical health, support the development of job and life skills, and foster an increased sense of belonging. 

“We’ve seen an increase in volunteering in recent years, with the number of 11-16 year old volunteers increasing from 32% in 2009 to 52% in 2017. This is very much welcomed, and I hope that this framework enables even more people to volunteer. Ultimately we want to encourage and create a society where volunteering is the norm for everyone.”

As well as input from Stirling researchers, partners from the voluntary and community sector, local government, the NHS, and volunteers were also involved in the framework’s development.

Volunteering is thought to add £2.26 billion to the Scottish economy and in 2017, 28% of adults and 52% of young people aged 11-16 were volunteers.

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