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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.8 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 26 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 29/06/2020

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 Welsh Government released updated volunteering guidelines and advice in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Welsh Government Third Sector COVID-19 Relief Fund was also announced in 2020 worth £20 million to help volunteering services, charities, and to strengthen third sector infrastructure. Specifically, the Third Sector Resilience Fund and the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund are targeted at the Welsh volunteering sector. An assessment of the financial impact of the pandemic on voluntary organisations offers some insight into current and futures issues: 

While many organisations are dealing with immediate challenges, it is clear that there are additional, and perhaps more serious challenges in the longer term. One participant outlined this, saying ‘Our immediate future is ok, we can also see how we can support our communities for the rest of the year. Our concern is from April 2021 when our funding sources have dried up, reserves gone and demand increasing for those who were vulnerable beforehand.’

A WCVA article in June 2020 assessing youth volunteering both before and since the pandemic offers some details of current and future youth social action in Wales.

During the last twelve months, the Youth Led Grant funds have enabled £238,205 to be allocated across 205 projects. To make this happen, 89 young grant makers awarded the funding to the projects. An extra 1334 young people were involved in delivering the projects. 

In 2020/21, £118,750 has been allocated across the network of Youth Led Grant panels to fund youth led social action across Wales.


WCVA’s Future Trends report highlights future policy issues for the Welsh third sector up to 2030. In discussing the growing privatisation of public services, the report states 

‘this may also lead to new models of volunteering and different perceptions of volunteering in society.‘ (p.26)

WCVA’s 2020 report on the voluntary sector and its engagement for a sustainable future through the Wellbeing for Generations (WFG) Act 2015 sets out some direction for future Welsh volunteering policy furthermore. They recommend the Welsh Government invests in a permanent institutionalised forum to coordinate the commitments from the WFG Act. They state: 

That the voluntary sector is supported to engage effectively with this Forum and other key channels – and potentially other activities relating to delivering the Act - through creation of a separate institutionalised civil society space in recognition of the fact that the potential benefits of this cannot be adequately realised under existing structures. (p.7)