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Big investment from Sport England is changing the face of volunteering!

Volunteers are precious. They enable others to play sport and do physical activity, and in doing so enrich their own lives. Friendships blossom. Wellbeing improves. Communities thrive. 

That said, the 6.7 million volunteers in sport don’t represent the make-up of society. They’re more likely to be white, male, middle class and non-disabled. Sport England’s investment will not only mobilise a new generation of volunteers, it will target groups that are currently under-represented – disabled people, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, women and older people.  

Only 10% of volunteers are from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Research has informed Sport England that the demand is there – with a diverse group of people wanting to get involved in volunteering; especially young people where social action is a top priority. The investment will tap into that potential, and persuade others to get involved too.  

Sport England has selected 32 projects that will help deliver that goal. Either through their Potentials Fund, which targets young people aged 10 to 20 who want to give their time – or the Opportunity Fund, designed to attract those aged 20+ from disadvantaged communities. 

"Volunteering and taking part in social action can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends,” says Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith. 

"We’re delighted to be enabling more volunteers to be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhoods. These projects will test different approaches.” 

You can read up on the full list of 32 projects here. Each is being backed by one of the two volunteering funds that Sport England opened earlier this year.

Sport England are also going to make sure that they reach as many young people as possible by partnering up with the #iwill fund. Created thanks to both government support and money raised by National Lottery players, #iwill promotes social action such as campaigning, volunteering and fundraising among 10-20 year-olds.

Sport England will be investing up to £30million into volunteering by 2021. The 32 pioneering projects announced today will be vital to testing and learning what works best to bring marginalised groups into volunteering – helping to reach many more potential volunteers in the future.