We’ve often shared here how each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to support their community by volunteering.

At North Herts & Stevenage Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS), we are constantly reminded by our members that as demand for their services increases, they need more volunteers. However, reports indicate that volunteering has been in sharp decline both nationally and locally, since the Covid pandemic. Our ‘All About Us’ survey, undertaken in North Hertfordshire and Stevenage, supports this – most groups – 62 percent to be precise – are finding it difficult to recruit volunteers.

There are many reasons behind the decline: the Covid-19 pandemic certainly played its part (many volunteers failed to return), and the cost of living and energy crisis means that many must prioritise paid work over voluntary work. We hear that people now have less free time, and older people, once the mainstay volunteers of local charities, are now retiring later or are busy childminding so that their children can work. We can find the excuses. But how do we counter this shift away from volunteering?

Hannah Morgan-Gray, CEO at the CVS, says, “Without volunteers, the voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector is unsustainable. The indicators are that local groups are facing a far-reaching crisis, and we need to be proactive, talk together, and develop new strategies to counteract this trend.”

From food banks, financial advice, and mental health support to disability and older people’s activities, sport for every age, and in countless other areas, volunteers are the greatest resource of any group. The decline in numbers threatens the viability of these groups, leaving our community without crucial services.

This September, together with the volunteering platform GoVolHerts, the CVS will bring together North Hertfordshire and Stevenage VCFSE leaders, volunteer recruitment specialists, and key stakeholders to kick off the discussion about this critical issue at a special Volunteering Summit to be held at Stevenage Football Club on 26th September.

Among the solution-focused guest speakers is Chris Reed, a highly experienced and dynamic charity director, CEO, and board member. Chris has worked at local, national, and international levels for over 20 years, heading up volunteering functions at the British Red Cross, Barnardo’s, and St John Ambulance.

Priority booking is now open. Initially, tickets are limited to one per group or organisation and are restricted to CVS members and VCFSE organisations based or operating in North Herts and Stevenage. Capacity is limited, so please register your attendance now using this link: https://shorturl.at/bgoaC or visit the Events page at www.nhcvs.org.uk

As the Centre for Voluntary Services for North Herts and Stevenage, we equip community groups, charities, and volunteers with the knowledge to develop and thrive. Learn more about how we help groups and organisations at www.nhcvs.org.uk