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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.8 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 12/08/2020 - 12:09


All volunteering organisations in the UK face common challenges of how to engage significantly higher numbers of young people. The Department for Culture, Media and Society and Step Up To Serve commissioned the National Youth Action Survey in 2017 which runs alongside the #iwill campaign which aims to increase social action participation in youth to 60% by 2020. The National Youth Action Survey 2017 found 58% of young people participated in social action but only 39% found it to be meaningful social action. There continues to be a significant socioeconomic gap in participation furthermore.

There are many different factors influencing this situation; it is not clear which are dominant. It is generally agreed that equal consideration must be given to improving young people’s access to clear and relevant information, on the one hand, and improving the professional capacity of organisations to provide enjoyable, safe and rewarding opportunities on the other.

The UK left the EU on January 31st 2020 at 11pm, beginning the transition period that is set to end on December 31st 2020. An update on the website of the Erasmus+ UK National Agency states that: 

under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and ESC programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including those where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period. As a result, the UK government guarantee of EU funding will no longer be required and the Erasmus+ and ESC guarantee IT system has been closed. 

Additional updates have been published on the Erasmus+ site



 Various streams of funding and initiatives have been created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The COVID-19 Charities Fund of £15.5 million was announced by the Department for Communities in June 2020. 

Sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector can also avail of small £2,000 grants from the £500,000 Hardship Fund for sports. 

Volunteer Now launched the #HelpEachOther campaign, Northern Ireland’s volunteering management site, during COVID-19 to help safeguard high-risk citizens in the community. 

The Department for Communities Community Response Plan 2020 is a summary of strategy and priority for the government regarding the voluntary sector. It sets out 15 actions under four themes: coordination of efforts on the ground; encouraging and supporting volunteers; supporting community organisations; and funding.