As some of you will already have seen on the Third Sector website Action for Children has just launched a report on the impact and value of volunteering in its children's centres, which may be of interest to some of you. It also includes key recommendations.
Action for Children commissioned the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Office of Public Management (OPM) to explore the impact that volunteers in its children's centres have on children and families, children's centre staff and the local community. Quantitative and qualitative methods captured data from a sample of our children's centres across England during 2011-12.
Key findings include:
For parents and children, volunteers bring extra capacity and provide an informal reassuring presence for families using children's centres. They act as role models to the local community, and contribute unique skills and experience as well as bringing practical support and providing a pastoral role to families.
For children's centres and staff, volunteers enhance the children's centre environment, whether it is the result of supporting staff to work with more parents or in strengthening links with the local community.
For the local community, volunteers increase use of and reach of children's centres and provide positive role models for the community. They help to break down any stigma of using the children's centre, widen participation and become a community resource by creating new relationships between people.
For volunteers themselves, volunteering brings a range of benefits including an increase in confidence and feelings of self-worth, as well as a route to employment, education or training.
Furthermore, economic analysis shows that:
The total overall value per year to Action for Children of volunteer involvement aggregated across all its children's centres at the time is over £400,000.
The research concludes with key messages for all involved to maximise the benefits of volunteering.
You can download the final report and executive summary here: http://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/policy-research/research
Volunteering Manager, Action for Children