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Scottish Household Survey - 2022 Results

The significant decline in formal volunteering participation from 26% in 2019 to 22% in 2022 is extremely concerning. While this may be unsurprising given the cumulative impacts of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, it comes at a time of increased societal need. This is putting additional pressures on Volunteer involving organisations at a time of increased demand.

The increased prevalence of community and neighbourhood volunteering is a welcome finding, involving over a quarter of Scotland’s adult volunteers (27%). This is likely a legacy of community-based volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Encouragingly, differences in volunteer participation by demographic group amongst those supporting their community or neighbourhood, are overall small. This suggests that volunteer activity to support communities or neighbourhoods is perhaps more inclusive in nature. 

The SHS results for 2022 were published Tuesday 12th December 2023. Due to changes in the research methods and representativeness of the sample in the 2020 and 2021 surveys, we have followed best practice and not included this data in our comparisons. All data in this blog compares 2019 to 2022 for formal volunteering.

Key findings

  • The formal volunteering participation rate is 22%, a statistically significant difference compared to the rate of 26% in 2019. There has been an 9-percentage point fall from the 30% high in 2011.

  • Local community/neighbourhood’ volunteering is now the most popular type of volunteering with 27% undertaking this activity type in 2022, compared to 22% of volunteers in 2019. 

  • Volunteering in ‘Youth and children’s activities’ outside school is the second most popular type of volunteering at 21% of adult volunteers in 2022, slightly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 23% in 2019.

  • Volunteering in ‘Hobbies and recreation’ and ‘Environmental protection’ have also increased from 10% and 5% in 2019 to 15% and 8% in 2022 respectively. 

  • Volunteering in ‘Children’s education and schools’ (19% in 2019 compared to 14% in 2022), ‘Health, disability and wellbeing’ (18% in 2019 compared to 15% in 2022) and ‘Youth or children’s activities outside school’ (24% in 2019 compared to 21% in 2022) have all decreased.

  • Disabled adults were less likely to volunteer than non-disabled adults (17% vs. 23%), which maintains this long-term disparity in engagement. Interestingly, there were marked variations in the types of volunteering disabled adults engaged in:

    • ‘Health, disability, and wellbeing’ = 21% of disabled adults and 13% of non-disabled adults.

    • ‘Hobbies and recreation’ = 21% of disabled adults and 13% of non-disabled adults.

There is only a slight, 2 percentage point, difference in ‘Local community/neighbourhood’ = 29% of disabled adults and 27% of non-disabled adults.

  • Ethnicity – The main volunteering differential is between ‘white – other British’ at 27% and the other ethnic groups reported (‘white Scottish’ at 21%, ‘white – other’ at 19% and ‘minority ethnic’ at 22%). Interestingly there is only a slight difference in involvement in ‘Local community or neighbourhood’ between ‘White British’, ‘Minority ethnic groups’ and ‘white Scottish’ to be involved in ‘Local community or neighbourhood’ (29%, 28% and 27% respectively), compared to ‘White other’ (23%) .

  • Deprivation – Unfortunately, the long-established variance in volunteering participation rates between adults in the most deprived communities (quintile 1) and the least deprived communities (quintile 5) remains (14% vs. 27% respectively). More positively, there is no such trend across involvement in ‘Local community / neighbourhood’ by deprivation (Q1 29%, Q2 26%, Q3 30%, Q4 28%, Q5 25%).

  • Geography – Again, the usual higher volunteering participation rate for those living in rural areas (29%) compared to the rest of Scotland (20%) remains. However, a striking finding is the much higher engagement of volunteers in rural areas supporting their ‘Local community/ neighbourhood’ (34%), compared to volunteers in urban areas (25%).

  • Age – There are some key variations by age cohort:

    • Those aged 60+ are much more heavily engaged in ‘religion and belief’ volunteering at 24% compared to those aged <60 (8% for those aged 16-34 and 23% for those aged 60 and over).

    • Almost a third (32%) of adult volunteers aged 16 to 34 support ‘youth/children’s activities outside school’, compared to only 7% of those aged ‘60 and over’. 

    • Those aged 16-34 and 60+ are equally involved in ‘Local community or neighbourhood’ at 29%, while involvement of those aged 35-59 are less involved (26%).

A more detailed analysis will follow in early January 2024.

Further Resources