Mention the word “volunteering” and how do you react? “I haven’t got time”; “I won’t get paid”; “it won’t benefit me”? That’s not stopped Simon Kingsley-Young from volunteering for the MSMW event, here’s what he said “The events are fun, rewarding and beneficial to both sides. It can also open-up more opportunities to volunteer elsewhere; it’s almost infectious and addictive.”
The community relies on its volunteers, not least sports clubs and events. Some ground-breaking research released in 2015, found sport to be the single biggest sector of volunteering in the UK, with 3.2 million people investing their time. The figures were revealed by Join In as part of their work to identify the hidden value of sport volunteers. Join In was established in 2012 to capture the enthusiasm generated by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and channel it into local sport. After the Bank of England’s Chief Economist noted that the social worth of volunteering was rarely valued, Join In set about quantifying the real benefit.
The results offered a different perspective of how volunteers should be viewed, as “investors” rather than a cost-saving or a free resource. The return on time invested into sport was valued at £16,032 per volunteer; over 30 times the previous valuations of sport volunteering.
How does one volunteer make such a difference, you may ask? Firstly, let’s consider the benefit of a volunteer’s role on other people. Research discovered that one volunteer in a club creates the capacity for 8.5 players. The economic benefits of additional players and members to local and national economies, along with the wellbeing gains the volunteers will experience were valued at over £12,500. Then we should contemplate the volunteers themselves, who were found to have a higher sense of happiness. This resulted in greater emotional and physical wellbeing, making volunteering an effective way for people to alleviate the symptoms of depression, loneliness and isolation. The findings demonstrate that the longer someone volunteers the greater their wellbeing, and these benefits continue long after they stop volunteering.
“It is increasingly difficult for events like The Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend to recruit volunteers year after year”, said Simon Adby, Event Director of Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend. “This research helps demonstrate the true value that we get from our volunteers and will hopefully encourage more people to get involved, knowing that they have a much more significant and longer lasting effect than perhaps is initially anticipated.
The Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend will provide opportunities for participants to raise money for causes close to their hearts and profits from the event will be re-invested into community sport projects.
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