Bruce Rothberg


Charities Aid Foundation

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Parliament’s debate on supporting charities and volunteers

What we learnt from Parliament’s debate on supporting charities and volunteers

14 February 2019

Yesterday, there was a general debate in the House of Commons on ‘connecting communities by supporting charities and volunteers’. General debates consider neutrally worded motions that let MPs debate a subject without to an opinion or course of action. The motions always start ‘That the House has considered (subject)’ and can’t be amended.

So what did MPs say during this important debate? Here is CAF’s roundup of what we learnt.

The potential of place-based giving

During the debate, the Government announced the funding for a Growing Place-Based Giving programme which we are delighted to be working with DCMS on. Our Giving for the City campaign highlights the philanthropic potential that these trends may hold in reinvigorating our culture of placed-based giving, which in turn will boost civic identity and pride in one’s local community.

We were delighted that MPs recognised that charities are a vehicle for reconnecting people with the places where they live.

Mims Davies MP (Con, Eastleigh) Minister for Sport and Civil Society said:

“To support even more people giving back to their local area, I am today awarding a further £3 million to communities that need it most. Some £770,000 is going to six places to boost fundraising directly to local good causes. This investment will unlock funds for Britain's most deprived communities, improving social mobility from Bristol to the Yorkshire coast.”

Charities connect communities with policymakers

Finally, MPs should be aware that the role of civil society in connecting communities means that they play an important role in linking politicians with the people they represent. Through their widespread use, charities have the on-the-ground experience to understand the issues their beneficiaries are facing so can help to improve policy.

Our research found that 67% of people felt that charities were best placed to speak on behalf of disadvantaged people and 56% said they most trusted charities to do this and we believe that Government should work closely with civil society in the formulation of policy as well as recognise the important advocacy and campaigning role the sector plays in bringing issues within communities to the attention of policymakers.

Rushanara Ali MP (Lab, Bethnal Green and Bow) and Faisal Rashid MP (Lab, Warrington South) said: “Volunteering and charitable activity is a critical foundation of our society and the hallmark of a healthy society and economy.”

Susan Elan Jones MP (Lab, Clwyd South) said:”Wwe know that volunteers, charities and community groups have a huge advocacy role”

Hugh Gaffney MP (Lab, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) said:

“The Charities Aid Foundation found that 67% of people felt that charities were best placed to speak for the disadvantaged, yet they are being denied the chance to do so”

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP (SNP, West Dunbartonshire) said:

“From a Scotland -wide perspective, the voluntary sector covers every facet of Scottish society, and …four out of five Scots used a third sector organisation last year.”

Volunteering opportunities can be key to connecting older people to their communities

Another area we were pleased to see mentioned by MPs is how volunteering can help tackle loneliness in older people. But, while many retired people already give their time generously, there are others who would like to get but are not aware of or unable to access the opportunities that they would relish.

Our research found that 61% of all respondents aged 65 or over do not volunteer. However, when retired people do volunteer, they tend to do it much more frequently with 20% volunteering at least once a week.

We believe a post-careers advice service that promotes volunteering could play a significant role in connecting older people with their communities.

Mims Davies MP (Con, Eastleigh) Minister for Sport and Civil Society said:

“We are breaking down barriers to volunteering for everyone, and we are focusing on those at risk of loneliness and looking to the long term to help those people who might want to get involved and who might need a new direction and feel isolated.”

Victoria Prentis MP (Con, Banbury) said:

“It is really good for everybody's mental health to volunteer”

We’re delighted that so many MPs spoke so positively about the value of charities and volunteering, mentioning lots of fantastic charities in their constituency. If you’d like to read more about our research, you can find our statistics and analysis here.