Most people have no problem working when they stand to benefit – commonly through payment. After all, our mortgages, cars and holidays aren’t going to pay for themselves. But when it comes to giving up our time and skillsets for free, understandably, it’s not quite as easy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the most incredible upsurge in volunteering and community action with 750,000 people signing up to volunteer for the NHS’s volunteering scheme in less than a week. A surge that saw the scheme have to be suspended while the vast number of generous offers by volunteers across the UK were processed1.
This is amazing real evidence of the willingness of human beings to help others – and for these volunteers there may be may other longer-term incidental benefits from wellbeing boosts to career advancement.
Statistically, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression later in life as well as many other benefits2. But why is that? Well, as many studies have demonstrated, helping others kindles happiness. And the benefits extend to our careers, too. Researchers have noted that millennials are some of the most civic-minded and socially-aware employees – qualities that read well on a CV. Indeed, skills-based volunteering can be the perfect springboard for an employee looking to advance in their careers.
Despite this in recent years there seems to be some evidence of a fall-off in the number of people volunteering. The latest UK government report on volunteering in 20193 showed that the past 5 years have seen a drop in those reporting they had volunteered at least once a month falling to 38% in 2018/19 from 44% in 2013/14 and for those saying they had volunteered at least once a year from 70% in 2013/14 to 62% in 2018/19.
The upsurge in volunteering of recent weeks may, therefore, be one of the few positive takeaways from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Local authorities are ideally placed to benefit from this upward trend as they often recruit volunteers directly, and their work can span through a wide range of sectors, from education to environmental protection and community services.
Generally speaking, a volunteer should be afforded the same level of information, training, supervision and protection as a paid employee engaged in similar activities. The challenge for the risk and insurance manager is to ensure that service managers within the authority understand that a duty of care is owed to volunteers. The UK and Scottish governments have put out specific guidance for volunteers during the Covid-19 crisis4 and RMP has a useful guidance here for risk management in relation to volunteers.
By helping others, we essentially help ourselves. Happiness, it seems, is contagious. Local authorities value the contribution of the volunteers who get behind worthwhile causes, and the feedback is invariably positive. Volunteering can be fun, and it feels good. Perhaps the Covid-19 outbreak will encourage many more of us to take up volunteering.
This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 7 April 2020, but you will recognise that matters concerning Covid- 19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Risk Management Partners Limited accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this note, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with Joanne Seaward at Risk Management Partners Limited.
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