A New Vision for Volunteering in Oxfordshire

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A New Vision for Volunteering in Oxfordshire

Volunteering is changing. In response, Community First Oxfordshire (CFO) and Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) are creating an Oxfordshire Vision for Volunteering that offers concrete action points for the next five years and promotes and celebrates the breadth of volunteering action across the county.

Our Vision for Volunteering will seek to learn from the changes of the last few years, understand the needs of individuals, groups and organisations involved in volunteering in Oxfordshire, and set out a vision for a more inclusive and sustainable future for the voluntary sector in our county.

What do we mean by volunteering?

By volunteering we mean all kinds of unpaid support offered by people in their communities. That includes volunteering with community groups, registered charities, mutual aid groups, faith groups, lunch clubs, community sports teams, environmental groups and more.

It also includes things like helping neighbours who are struggling, serving on the parish council, organising a street event, volunteering for a PTA, running a neighbourhood WhatsApp or Facebook group, helping produce a local community publication, running a local community campaign, or raising funds for a local cause.

All these, and many more, are part of Oxfordshire’s rich landscape of volunteering, community campaigning and unpaid support

Vision for Volunteering survey

As part of this project, we asked people in Oxfordshire to tell us about their experiences of volunteering via a short survey which ran between November 2022 and February 2023. We wanted to hear from as many people as possible and particularly from groups which are doing new and different things, or operating in a new way, or who have traditionally been overlooked.

Survey highlights

A map of Oxfordshire with markers showing where survey responses came from. There are markers across Oxfordshire. Responses are colour-coded by district council.
Map of Oxfordshire showing where responses to the Volunteering Vision survey came from
  • We hoped to get 50 responses so were thrilled to get 322. Thank you!
  • There were responses from across Oxfordshire, from Cropredy in the north to Mapledurham in the south, from Shrivenham in the west to Chinnor in the east.
  • You told us about 624 volunteer roles.
  • The mean number of roles held per person was 1.92.
  • 15 people are carrying out more than 10 different roles.
  • One person told us they held 13 different volunteer roles.
  • You told us about 1,000 different organisation that you volunteer with or partner with.
We heard from a huge range of groups and organisations across Oxfordshire, including charities, mutual aids, statutory bodies and informal groups, including:
  • 26 parish councils
  • 53 environmental groups
  • 24 transport groups
  • 21 branches of national organisations for children and young people, including Woodcraft Folk, Girlguiding and the Scouts
  • 23 village halls

What do volunteers want to see more of?

We’re still analysing the data but two things already stand out as being highly valued by volunteers:

  • Flexibility in their roles
  • Connections between volunteers across the county

What else is happening?

We’re working with an advisory group of representatives from local charities and infrastructure organisations as we develop the Vision for Volunteering.
We’ve connected with a range of organisations, particularly those who are operating in new ways and/or who have traditionally been overlooked, to hear in more depth about people’s personal experiences of volunteering, using the storytelling methodology. These stories will act as prompts for facilitated discussion with relevant stakeholders.
We’re pulling together the results of the survey, the findings from our open meeting and the in-depth interviews, and public data to map the landscape of voluntary and community work in Oxfordshire. We’re starting to think about what the Vision might look like.
The final report is expected to be published in Spring 2023.

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