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Research reveals millions are desperate to volunteer and ‘do their bit’ for the community

A study of 2,000 adults has found assisting in schools, volunteering in charity shops and litter picking in community spaces are some of the most popular ways people are lending their services. While others have helped out with Scouts or Brownies, local sports events or given lifts to people in need.

Nearly half (46 per cent) would like to volunteer in the near future, but 47 per cent of those yet to do so admit they previously haven’t had the time, while 24 per cent blame a lack of energy. Meanwhile, nearly one in five (17 per cent) aren’t sure what exactly to do in terms of volunteering.

volunteering in the community

Working outdoors, in food banks or helping with animals are the most attractive causes for those yet to give away their free time.

The research was commissioned by SPAR, which is giving grants to local voluntary or community organisations and charities who need it most through its Community Cashback scheme.

Suzanne Dover, from the community retailer said: “It’s great to see the people of the UK doing their bit and helping out local causes.

“Our 2023 Community Cashback programme gives back to the communities served by our network of local retailers. We believe in nurturing our neighbourhoods and supporting the communities we serve, and this scheme is another way we are helping to do this, especially now when deserving local organisations need some extra financial support.”

SPAR volunteers litter picking

Volunteers’ reasons for getting involved vary, with 56 per cent doing so to help others, and 46 per cent wanting to give back to their community. It also emerged that 16 per cent have started helping others more in 2023.

And 28 per cent, think the act is good for their own general wellbeing, with 39 per cent enjoying meeting new people.

Psychologist and volunteering expert Dr. Nishat Babu added, “The many benefits of volunteering include enhanced wellbeing, greater happiness, and life satisfaction, and even improved physical health in some cases. Whilst it might seem difficult to dedicate time to volunteering, by setting aside some time for others, even just a few hours each month, we can gain a better sense of wellbeing and feel a part of our community.”

The main reason adults are inspired to volunteer was revealed to be seeing people first-hand experiencing troubles such as the cost-of-living crisis and homelessness.

Of those who have helped others, 52 per cent have shopped for someone else, and 29 per cent have delivered food to a vulnerable person.

In a typical month, those who do help their communities do so for an average of eight hours – giving two hours per week.

Of all adults, 61 per cent say they have lot of respect for those that volunteer, and 38 per cent feel it’s important to do something for the local community.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) of those polled via OnePoll, however, feel guilty for not volunteering at all, or not doing it enough.

Suzanne Dover added: “Our Community Cashback scheme will have donated £100,000 across the UK on behalf of our shoppers. This will help improve community activities and we look forward to helping the winning causes in the coming months.

“There are so many incredible causes that need help – from after school clubs and care homes, or local community spaces.”

“The more people that come together to help their communities, the better our neighbourhoods will be for all of us.”


  1. Working In local outdoors spaces such as community allotments, parks or litter picking
  2. Food related causes including soup kitchens and food banks
  3. Animal shelter
  4. Charity shops
  5. Loneliness charity
  6. In schools including reading to children
  7. Hospital
  8. Home for elderly
  9. Homeless shelter
  10. Children and youth centres
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