Case studies, Issues, Volunteers

Understanding volunteering in a village


Ask people in a village about volunteering and you will often get the response  that everything is run by a handful of people.  The village of Harvington in Wychavon wanted to see how much truth there was to this perception and so embarked on producing a map of volunteering in the village.  The map covered all of the community groups, clubs and societies in the village from the Parish Council to the churches and the school.  It also looked at one-off and annual events that took place in the village over the year.

The number of volunteer roles within each of these organisations, clubs and events were then counted and a list of all the volunteers within the community who gave time or contributed was collated.  The results were eye opening for the community, dispelling the myth that five or so people did everything.

The mapping process started with member of Harvington’s Community Group drafting a list of organisations, clubs and events in the village that she knew had volunteer input along with the names of the volunteers that she was aware of.  Then, at a coffee morning for volunteers, the list was passed around and added to leading to a definitive map of the village groups, clubs, events and leaders.

The leaders of each organisation and club were contacted and a full list of volunteers were given to the organiser.  The details of the volunteers were not made available to anybody else but it was important that the final report could reflect the diversity, or otherwise, of volunteering in the village.

A master list was then compiled including:

  • The number of volunteer tasks undertaken for each organisation, club and event
  • The number of individuals who volunteered
  • The number of individual tasks each volunteer undertook

The report was then shared with the Community Group and Parish Council to inform future working.  The whole process was carried out over a few weeks and a copy of the report can be found here.

“I have certainly found it an eye opener. I knew this was an active community – but I had no idea how many people contributed to all that.”

Harvington resident involved in the mapping process

So, what has the process achieved in Harvington?  Well there have been several outcomes.  Firstly there is a better shared understanding of volunteering within the village.  People realise that a huge number of people are involved in making the community and village a special place to live.  Secondly, residents are more aware of the range of clubs, groups and activities that are available within the village, including alternative opportunities to volunteer.  Lastly, the process has identified where groups are under threat from lack of volunteer support and the process of forward planning for volunteering has been made easier.