Stone King has contributed to a report examining the role volunteers have played in the pandemic and which calls for further investment in the sector.
The report, entitled Volunteering, Covid and Integrated Care: Challenges and Opportunities – a Discussion Paper, was produced by Public Policy Projects and the Royal Voluntary Service, with Stone King adding vital insight into the roles played by volunteers and also the challenges in recruiting, managing and retaining them.
Stone King Partners Julian Blake and Hannah Kubie also took part in roundtable and webinar discussions.
“The report’s theme is that socio-economic reform and innovation needs to come from purpose-driven re-organisation and revitalisation, which will naturally focus substantially on communities,” said Julian.
“More, better organised, better integrated and more valued volunteering is part of that. But it should fit within reform and innovation of civil society, where the full range and depth of public benefit capacity and capability is a principal driver.
“The dichotomy of public and private sector needs to be expanded to the concept of a public benefit/third sector, of equal value and importance, which has purpose alignment with the public sector and is organised by civil society, especially through the application of business methodology in social enterprise.
“The risk with championing volunteering, is, as the report acknowledges, that it is seen as adjunct to unreformed public and private sectors, not an integral part of a re-conceptualised, strengthened and enhanced civil society as a whole.
“Volunteering is generally good, for individual and society, for well-covered reasons, but, in individual lives it is often not easily possible, or sustainable, or realistically expandable. Two aspirational answers to this are covered in the report, i) enhanced community spirit and engagement, building on its new visibility in Covid and social compact ideas; and ii) enhanced organisation and co-ordination.
“But giving time for free, forsaking possible paid time, or limited free time away from exhausting work, is an issue.”
Diana Barran, Civil Society Minister at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, welcomed the report saying: “Whether it is the hundreds of thousands of people who put their hands up to be NHS volunteer responders, the 160,000 families who have been helped as a result of that support, or whether it is the informal volunteering through mutual aid groups… It really has been a most wonderful, both organised and spontaneous response to this pandemic.”
Stone King’s Hannah Kubie said Covid-19 had seen charities and communities focus on volunteers.
“We work with charities nationally and know that, for many, volunteers are vital in helping them carry out their aims and objects,” she said.
“The pandemic has highlighted the vital need for volunteers and the work they do for so many.”
Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of the RVS said: “Volunteers have underpinned health and social care during the pandemic but as we increasingly focus on Covid recovery, the question is how do we ensure this extraordinary level of volunteer participation continues? We have made huge strides - we can’t afford to lose what we have gained. Our attention must now turn to supporting volunteers to continue their engagement in the recovery from the pandemic. If we are to deliver health reforms and the integrated care model we are working towards, we must invest to achieve excellence and the shared understanding of the value of volunteering in the future.”