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Olympics Has Boosted Volunteers by 3.4 million

The London 2012 Olympics has inspired 3.4 million people to volunteer, according to a recent survey of UK adults.

The research, carried out by ICM Research for the Community Service Volunteers’ (CSV) Make a Difference Day campaign, saw 7 per cent of respondents say that the games have inspired them to volunteer, which when weighted to the UK adult population gives the 3.4 million figure.

A nationally representative sample of 2,033 adults were interviewed online between 10th and 12th August for the survey.

The most popular form of volunteering was informal ‘acts of kindness’, for example helping an elderly neighbour with their shopping or a young person write their CV, chosen by 34 per cent of respondents.

This was followed by 16 per cent for ‘practical activities’, such as creating a community garden, and ‘help an organisation by using your professional experience and skills’, such as designing a website, with 13 per cent.

The largest single reason given for people not volunteering or volunteering more was a reluctance to commit to anything long-term, which was chosen by 21 per cent of respondents. Seventeen per cent said they simply were not interested, followed by issues revolving around their financial situation (15 per cent).

This year’s Olympics saw 15,000 volunteers help out at the opening and closing ceremonies in London, as well as 70,000 volunteer “Games Makers” giving their time throughout the 17-day event, and a further 8,000 Team London Ambassadors, who took care of visitors to London.

"If you could bottle the enthusiasm of the Olympics and the Paralympic volunteers you could change the world," says Lucy de Groot, chief executive of CSV. "They have put down a major challenge to everyone who values the contribution that volunteering can make to society and the difference it can make to the lives of the volunteers. This includes the voluntary sector, the private sector and the government.

"We need to recognise that the investment by the Olympics in recruiting, training and support for their volunteers paid off, and to ensure we replicate this in volunteer programmes in future."

De Groot is one of the trustees of a new £2m government-backed Olympic volunteering legacy charity, set up by Prime Minister David Cameron. She continued to say that the Olympics have “radically shifted” the perception of volunteers in our society, and that 18 to 24-year-olds are more inspired than any other age group to volunteer due to the Olympics.

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