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Cumbrian charities struggling to find volunteers

Charities across Cumbria are struggling to attract volunteers with up to 500 vacancies available.

Marie Scott photo
Marie Scott

Experts say a predicted boom in volunteering after the Olympics has failed to materialise long-term and organisations reliant on people giving their time free are struggling to cope.

One west cumbrian charity says the problem is being made worse by a surge in the number of older people caring for their grandchildren as parents go out to work.

Cumbria CVS says the number of people volunteering in the county has almost halved since an initial boom was recorded post-London 2012, when a community-spirit legacy looked to have been born.

There are now around 500 unfilled vacancies in the county, which has left some charities are struggling to provide vital services.

Cumbria CVS local engagement officer Andrew Bass said Government funding cuts and the economic climate were increasing demands on the volunteer sector.

He said: “There was a big push around volunteering and The Big Society last year, with the whole ethos being about making a difference to your own community.

“But from January and February onwards, we have not been getting the inquiries at anywhere near the level we saw after the Olympics.

“There’s been an increase in the number of organisations that rely on volunteering to deliver their services, struggling to get by.

“The number of inquiries we are getting from people has gone down by 40 to 50 per cent.

“There’s just not enough people to fill the spaces we have.”

Judith Holmshaw, county volunteer support officer for Cumbria CVS, said volunteering was always boosted by high-profile events such as the Olympics.

Cumbria Cerebral Palsy operates a day centre in Carlisle while its sister organisation CP Cumbria runs outreach services.

Manager Lynne Culley said: “Our major concern is that our volunteers are ageing and they’re not being replaced by new people.

“When the Olympic Games gave such a high profile to people with cerebral palsy we hoped it would stimulate an influx of volunteers but that wasn’t the case.”

She said the charity had learned to diversify, paying particular attention to its five north Cumbrian shops and encouraging customers to sign up to Gift Aid, effectively adding 25p in the pound to every purchase.

Marie Scott, chairwoman of West Cumbria Society for the Blind, said: “It’s getting harder to find volunteers.

“One of the main reasons is that so many retired people are now looking after their grandchildren while the parents go out to work.”

Have your say

If the Government thought the Olympics would bring a big surge in the number of people wanting to volunteer.....

why did they TAKE money from the National Lottery to fund the Olympics WHEN that money was SUPPOSED to go to CHARITY ?

If a private company did that - they would have been done for false accounting or diverting funds or something.

Government steals money from charities and it is okay

Posted by Karen on 27 August 2013 at 20:32

there is no such thing as a charity now as they all have managers who take a huge wage and drive around in a company car. the air ambulance and st john ambulance are good examples

Posted by c murry on 27 August 2013 at 20:07

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