Fix for volunteer deficit the aim of new research

Fix for volunteer deficit the aim of new research

A new programme, led by charity Sported with backing from the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and a coalition of organisations, has been launched to address a volunteer deficit that is putting the community sport sector in Wales under strain. The project aims to unlock the full capacity and impact of volunteering by identifying needs and finding sustainable solutions.

Research has found that 78% of groups are finding it difficult to recruit skilled volunteers to manage and run their work with the same number seeking “immediate support”.

89% of organisations say they would benefit from extra help but two-thirds claim they are not aware of the help currently available to find the right people.

The 18-month scheme, in which the Welsh Sports Association, Sport Wales, Boys and Girls Clubs of Wales and StreetGames are also partners, plans to build on existing research with fresh insights before producing firm recommendations by early-2025 with a call to public, private and third sector organisations to get involved.

“We know the importance of volunteering and the benefits it brings to community organisations – as well as those involved,” said Sported’s Wales National Manager, Richard Thomas.

“The knowledge and enthusiasm that volunteers bring is a huge factor in maximising their operations in a way that allows them to bring numerous benefits to our communities.

“We want to unearth innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions that showcase a pathway that benefits both small and large groups.

“And that will not only grow the number of volunteers in Wales, especially in Welsh-speaking and under-represented sections of society, but make it easier for those who need them to access someone with the right skillset and passion.”

National Sports Diversity Manager at WCVA, Rajma Begum, stated:

“The WCVA are pleased to fund this important project as we have seen a general decline in volunteering since the pandemic. We hope the findings and the recommendations will support all sectors in attracting and retaining  diverse, skilled volunteers.”

Initial online surveys will begin in February to capture the present situation, challenges, opportunities and expectations with detailed insight gathering in the engagement phase to follow in the summer.

“To enable the sector to achieve the Vision for Sport in Wales, and become an active nation where everyone has a lifelong enjoyment of sport, it’s absolutely vital that we have skilled and diverse boards and leaders who are capable of establishing inclusive systems and cultures,” said Eleanor Ower, People Development Lead at Sport Wales.

“Current insight tells us there’s a long way to go in achieving this, and this piece of work will be pivotal in ensuring organisations have access to the right people, in the right roles, supporting sport and physical activity across Wales.”

The Welsh Sports Association’s (WSA) Commercial Manager, Tom Sharp, added:

“The need for a robust, engaged, and diverse volunteering workforce across all levels of sport and leisure, in Wales, is crucial for the sector. We are seeing many of our member organisations struggle to fill prominent Non-Executive Director positions, and there are also shortages in roles for the running of national events and competitions. The WSA are keen to support and understand why this is happening and look to establish routes moving forward”.

Street Games’ National Director of Wales, Claire Lane, also commented:

“When it comes to volunteering, there is no level playing field. Data shows that people living in low-income, under-served communities are under-represented in volunteering at all levels. Our network of Locally Trusted Organisations across Wales are telling us that they are struggling to recruit and retain volunteers, which is impacting the services they can provide. This project is key to help build a better understanding of the why, and more importantly explore the solutions for how we can make changes right across the system.”

“The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Wales are delighted to be a partner in this project with many other key partners who support grassroots sport in Wales,” also said Grant Poiner, CEO at BGC Wales.

“Local voluntary sports clubs could not continue without the valuable support of volunteers that dedicate their time to officiate, coach and lead activities. Although these volunteers are crucial, there is also a need for volunteers who have skills and experience in governance, facility management and fundraising. We are excited that through working together we can help build a brighter future for community sport in Wales.”

Organisations which would like to be involved in the project can register their interest by contacting Richard Thomas, Sported Wales National Manager, at [email protected].

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