Volunteer with protective mask holding box / bag with groceries and POS for contactless payment.

New research to explore lessons learnt across UK on voluntary action and Covid-19

Published : 03/11/20 | Categories: News |

WCVA is pleased to announce that it will be part of a research project comparing the volunteering response to Covid-19 in each of the UK’s four nations.

It will share positive examples with the aim of shaping future policy and supporting the UK’s economic and social recovery. Experts from across academia and the voluntary sector are to carry out a major research project into the role of voluntary action  in the Covid-19 pandemic – exploring the challenges, what worked well and making recommendations to inform planning for future crises.

The project is a partnership between six UK universities and representatives from a variety of voluntary organisations, including the four key voluntary sector infrastructure bodies for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Almost £420,000 has been awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), following a rapid response call for projects which contribute to our understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.

Irene Hardill, Professor of Public Policy at Northumbria University, is principal investigator, and over the next 12 months will work alongside Jurgen Grotz (University of East Anglia); Eddy Hogg, (University of Kent) Ewen Speed (University of Essex); Alasdair Rutherford (University of Stirling); and Rhys Dafydd Jones (Aberystwyth University).

Dr Sally Rees will be representing WCVA, alongside representatives from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteer Scotland, and Northern Ireland’s Volunteer Now will work along with the academics, providing insight into volunteering trends and experiences across the whole of the UK.


Professor Hardill said: ‘During the pandemic we have seen voluntary action step in and step up as the first response to immediate need. We know we face an uncertain future but the delivery of social welfare, with the state working in partnership with the voluntary sector, is critical for us pulling through as a country.’

Dr Rees said that ‘This UK-wide research project provides an unique opportunity to understand how and why voluntary action has been and continues to be an important part of supporting people in the community during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the key relationships built as a consequence to futureproof voluntary action across the Wales and the UK.’

The first stage of the project will involve examining how prepared each of the four nations was before the pandemic hit, and what role voluntary action, organisations and volunteers played in these preparedness plans.

The team will then examine the impact Covid-19 has had on volunteers and volunteering, from face to face activities having to be paused, projects delivered in new ways, to new forms of voluntary action emerging, for example through mobilising voluntary action via online platforms and community self-help.

Once the evidence has been gathered it will be analysed, with the results presented in a series of government briefings across the four nations.

Recommendations will be made on the role volunteering and voluntary organisations could play in the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the final report expected to inform future policy development.

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