By Daniel Hunter

New figures released show a sharp rise in volunteering and that people are actively coming together to drive improvements in their communities, Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd.

The Official Statistics published for the first time by the Cabinet Office show that the proportion of people volunteering at least once a year has now increased from 65% in 2010 to 2011 to 71% in 2012, with an even bigger increase in the proportion of people volunteering regularly.

This equates to millions more people volunteering across the country – showing that the cultural change is not limited to the 120,000 who volunteered to make the Olympics a success. Significantly, this reverses the steady decline in volunteering seen since 2005.

The survey also reveals:

- people are still giving generously to charity, with 74% making donations in 2012, compared with 72% in 2010
- 55% reported a very strong sense of belonging to Britain, an increase from 51% in 2010
- a strong sense of community spirit, with 79% of people reporting they belong strongly to their neighbourhood
- 87% of people report that their local area is one where people from different backgrounds get along well together
- nearly half of people want to be more involved in local decisions, a significant increase from 2010

Ministers believe that the figures are a vindication of their Big Society agenda to support people to get more involved in their communities. The government has backed a number of initiatives such as National Citizen Service for 16 and 17 year olds and the Olympic volunteering legacy programme Join In to engage a new generation in volunteering and civic engagement.

The statistics come on the same day the Prime Minister is launching a new drive to recruit one million volunteers to support people with dementia, in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Prime Minister said: "“We all want a bigger, stronger society where people do their bit and that’s why I am pleased that the Community Life Survey shows we are making progress. The figures show that millions more people are volunteering and that the British people remain incredibly generous with charitable giving.

"We want to build on this success and make it easier for people who want to get involved. That’s why I am proud to be launching the effort today to get one million new volunteers trained to support people with dementia.”"

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said: "These figures show a very positive picture of how well Britain has responded to tough times. We should take pride that so many people have helped reverse the decline in volunteering.

"“London 2012 showed what we can achieve through volunteering and we are determined to build on the inspiration of the games.”"

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness