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28th January 2022

Scottish Household Survey - 2020 Results

The SHS results for 2020 were published Friday 28, January 2022. The SHS Team has cautioned against comparing their 2020 data with previous years due to changes in the research method, sample size and timing.

However, the results confirm major shifts in volunteering engagement in Scotland during the period of COVID-19, particularly for informal volunteering. These trends are supported by Volunteer Scotland’s own research with Ipsos MORI and our assessment is therefore that a comparison of SHS 2020 data with previous years is justified. However, we still advise caution in the interpretation of formal volunteering results and the demographic data where changes are more marginal.

The key highlights are:

Total volunteering participation rate up from 48% of adults aged 16+ in 2018 to 64% in 2020, with all of the increase accounted for by informal volunteering:

  • Formal volunteering participation static at 26% during the last three years: 2018 – 2020
  • Informal volunteering participation up from 36% in 2018 to 56% in 2020

Informal volunteering:

Informal volunteering witnessed much higher levels of support in the areas of highest need during the COVID-19 crisis period:

  • Keeping in touch with someone who is at risk of being lonely: up from 18% in 2018 to 69% in 2020
  • Doing shopping, collection pension, collecting benefits or paying bills: up from 12% to 51%
  • Providing transport or accompanying someone away from home: up from 9% to 20%
  • Routine household chores: up from 11% to 19%
  • Providing advice or support with letters of forms or speaking with others on someone else’s behalf: up from 6% to 16%

Formal volunteering:

Formal volunteering participation has remained static at 26%, which is perhaps a higher level of engagement than we expected given the adverse impacts of shielding, social distancing and other factors affecting formal volunteering. There were also some modest shifts by type of formal volunteering, again mirroring the impacts of COVID-19 on society:

  • Local community/neighbourhood volunteering up from 22% in 2019 to 25% in 2020
  • Physical activity and sport volunteering down from 15% in 2019 to 12% in 2020
  • Youth /children’s activities’ volunteering outside school down from 23% to 18%

For the first time since SHS records began 21 years ago, a higher proportion of males volunteered formally compared to females (26% vs. 25%).

Volunteer Scotland will be producing a more detailed report on the SHS 2020 data which examines the cross-tabulated data.

Please Note:

The results of the SHS 2020 telephone survey are not directly comparable to SHS results for previous years. Click here to read guidance on the 2020 survey and its interpretation.