Community Life Survey: 2017-18

The Community Life Survey is a household self-completion survey of adults aged 16+ in England undertaken by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The survey is a key evidence source on social cohesion, community engagement and social action and contains chapters relating to:

Identity and Social Networks

Neighbourhood and Community

Civic Engagement

Volunteering and Charitable Giving

Social Action

Wellbeing and Loneliness

Of those who took part in the 2017-18 Community Life Survey:

Formal volunteering

22% volunteered formally at least once a month with 25-34 year olds having the lowest rates of regular formal volunteering at 15%. Those aged 65-74 had the highest rates of regular formal volunteering, at 29%. Those who are economically inactive were more likely to volunteer regularly (29%) than those in employment (22%) and those who are unemployed (19%). People living in rural areas were more likely to volunteer regularly than those living in urban areas (29% compared with 21%).

Informal volunteering

The percentage of people who took part in informal volunteering (giving unpaid help as an individual to people who are not a relative) at least once a month remained the same as in 2016-17 at 27% but lower than in 2013-14 (31%). The percentage of people who took part in informal volunteering at least once a year was similar to 2016-17 at 53% (compared with 52% in 2016-17) but lower than in 2013-14 (58%).

Any volunteering

In 2017-18, 38% of people had volunteered either formally or informally at least once a month. This is a similar rate to 2016-17 (39%), but has gradually decreased since 2013-14, when 44% took part in some form of volunteering at least once a month. Nearly two thirds (64%) of people took part in either formal or informal volunteering in the last year, similar to 2016-17 (63%) but again, there has been a gradual decrease since 2013-14 (70%).

Woman were more likely than men to have taken part in some form of volunteering at least once a month (41% compared with 36%). People with a limiting long term illness or disability were more likely to have done some form of volunteering at least once a month than those without (44% compared with 39%). People living in the most deprived area were less likely to have taken part in some form of volunteering at least once a month than those from the least deprived areas (33% compared with 44%).

Reasons for volunteering

The most common reason given for taking part in formal volunteering was ‘I wanted to improve things/ help people’, with almost half of people who volunteered citing this as a reason (46%). ‘The cause was really important to me’ was the next most common reason (31%) and a quarter of people (25%) said ‘I wanted to meet people/ make friends’ or ‘I had spare time to do it’.

Barriers to volunteering

People who did not take part in formal volunteering at least once a month were asked about barriers to volunteering. Having work commitments was the biggest barrier to volunteering or to volunteering more frequently, with over half (51%) citing this as a reason. 37% said they had other things to do in their spare time, and 26% had to look after children/ the home.

To see the full survey visit https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/734726/Community_Life_Survey_2017-18_statistical_bulletin.pdf