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Interest in volunteering soars as recession bites, says British Red Cross

Monday 1 June 2009
For further information please contact
Penny Sims 
Contact number tel: 0044 (0)207 877 7044 / email: psims@redcross.org.uk / out of hours 07659 145 095

Volunteers' Week video available here: www.redcross.org.uk/volunteersweek

Figures released for Volunteers’ Week, 1-7 June 2009
Interest in volunteering has quadrupled since the recession began, according to the British Red Cross.

Since the end of 2007, the British Red Cross, one of the UK’s leading voluntary organisations, has seen enquiries leap from an average of 300 per month to around 1,400 enquiries per month in 2009. Enquiries in March and April from young people (16-25 year olds) account for much of this increase.

Maryanne Burton, Head of Volunteering at British Red Cross said:
“The number of enquiries we’ve received has increased sharply as the recession has taken hold. We’re seeing people who have been made redundant or taken early retirement, and a rising number of young people who are anxious about the tough job market they are about to enter.”

“In response to this situation, we have increased the number of internships we offer, and have widened our volunteering roles to use the skills that people are offering us. We’re seeing people coming from all sorts of occupations – banking, marketing, estate agents – these people have valuable skills to offer.”

Volunteering could be the key to getting people back into work, according to the experience of some British Red Cross volunteers.

Warren Baldock, 19, started volunteering with the British Red Cross in 2008. He is now employed within their Home from Hospital scheme.

“At the moment the job market, especially for younger people, is almost non-existent. I found it very hard to find even part-time work when I was a student, and the recession has made the situation much worse. I know a lot of people are leaving university with degrees, but not finding work, so I think I’ve been really lucky”.

The British Red Cross also offers training for qualifications such as the ‘Retail Skills Certificate’ and in first aid, and offers ‘structured volunteering’ on identified projects, providing people with recognisable achievements for the CV, as well as an opportunity to give something back to their community.

1-7 June is the 25th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week, which celebrates the contribution volunteers make all across the UK. The British Red Cross has over 27,000 volunteers across the UK; nine times more volunteers than their 3,000 staff. Worldwide the Red Cross is estimated to have around 97million volunteers.

Roles for volunteers with the British Red Cross include first aiders; supporting the fire and emergency services; drivers; retail assistants; school and youth workers; supporting refugees; helping people recently home from hospital; skin camouflage experts; fundraisers and even office workers.

You can even become a virtual volunteer online. Facebook and Bebo users can become Red Recruits, promoting Red Cross appeals and campaigns, and taking part in online debates. Sign up at www.redcross.org.uk/redrecruit

For more information about volunteering or internships with the British Red Cross, go to: www.redcross.org.uk/volunteer or call 0844 871 11 11


ENDS

For case studies, interviews, photos, footage or further details contact Penny Sims psims@redcross.org.uk 020 7877 7044
Video footage and podcast available from www.redcross.org.uk
For media enquiries for Volunteering England please contact Kimberley Rowley on 0207 520 8932 or email Kimberley.rowley@volunteeringengland.org

Notes to editors

· The National Bureau of Economic Research names December 2007 as the start point for the recession.
· The British Red Cross has over 27,000 volunteers and 3,000 staff. That’s 9 times more volunteers than staff.
· Worldwide the Red Cross is estimated to have around 97million volunteers.
· Video diaries of British Red Cross volunteers are available via www.redcross.org.uk
· Famous British Red Cross volunteers include Agatha Christie and Hattie Jacques. Agatha Christie was a Red Cross nurse during the First World War, and Hattie Jacques volunteered as a nurse from 1940 – 43.
· Other famous volunteers for the British Red Cross include E.M. Forster (writer), Rudyard Kipling (author and poet), P.D. James (writer), Ruby Wax (comedian), Keith Chegwin (TV presenter) and Konnie Huq (TV presenter) who all volunteered either at home or overseas.
· The Red Cross was founded in 1863 by Henri Dunant, who proposed the creation of national relief societies, made up of volunteers. The British Red Cross was established in 1870.
· The longest serving British Red Cross volunteer in the UK gave 82 years of service.
· Roles for volunteers with the British Red Cross include: skin camouflage experts; supporting the fire and emergency services; first aiders; drivers; retail assistants and window dressers; school and youth workers; supporting refugees; helping people recently home from hospital; therapeutic massage; humanitarian education trainers; emotional care after major incidents; fundraisers and even office workers.
· You can even become a virtual volunteer online. Facebook and Bebo users can become Red Recruits, promoting Red Cross appeals and campaigns, and taking part in online debates. Sign up at www.redcross.org.uk/redrecruit
· To find out more about volunteering opportunities, go to: www.redcross.org.uk/volunteer or call 0844 871 11 11
· Volunteers’ Week is an initiative of Volunteering England, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Volunteer Development Agency (Northern Ireland) and Volunteer Development Scotland.
· In 2009 we will be celebrating 25 years of Volunteers’ Week and will focus on rewarding, recognising and recruiting volunteers.
· For more information please visit www.volunteersweek.org.uk
· For media enquiries please contact Kimberley Rowley on 0207 520 8932 or email Kimberley.rowley@volunteeringengland.org
www.redcross.org.uk

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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