Parents ‘most likely to volunteer’

Liberal, highly educated parents aged under 45 are the most likely to be involved in volunteer work, according to a study by the Hansard Society.

Liberal, highly educated parents aged under 45 are the most likely to be involved in volunteer work, according to a study by the Hansard Society.

The 2011 Hansard Society annual Audit of Political Engagement  found only one in 10 people say they will ‘definitely’ spend some time doing some form of voluntary work at some point in the next couple of years.

Overwhelmingly, the study showed the motivation to volunteer and get involved seems to be rooted in a sense of personal self-interest. People were more likely to get involved in their local community if they felt strongly about it or it was relevant to them.

The Audit identifies ‘Willing Localists’ (14% of the population) as the key target for the success of the Government’s much vaunted "Big Society" idea. They are not actively involved in a wide range of community and socio-political activities, but seem the most willing and realistically likely to become involved in the future, it says.

Dr Ruth Fox, Director of the Hansard Society’s Parliament and Government programme, and co-author of the report, commented: "The momentous events surrounding the election and its aftermath has left people feeling more interested in and knowledgeable about politics. But they have not been roused to get more involved in it – the majority prefer to remain spectators.

"Even at the local community level only one in 10 say they are certain to volunteer. People say they are interested in being more engaged locally but on the whole are not willing to actually commit to activities. They are not very altruistic. It’s self-interest that motivates them to action: when an issue affects them or their community in a personal way.

"This raises interesting questions for the development of the Big Society. A clear focus on the local and the personal is where the Big Society has the greatest chance of succeeding." The study shows that while last year’s elections increased the public’s interest in politics to a record 58%, there was no matching rise in political or civic activity. Beyond voting, people were no more likely to get involved or participate in politics than they are in non-election years, says the report. There was a five per cent increase in interest in politics, but people expressed more interest in how things worked locally than in politics in general (although their knowledge about how things work locally is less than their knowledge about politics in general) and were more likely to think that getting involved was effective at a local level."



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