Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities in the UK

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities, at a loss to the UK of more than £1 billion, between 2012 and 2015, the latest figures from the ONS show.

In fact, there has been a general decline in the time that the UK’s unsung heroes and heroines spend volunteering since 2005, according to ONS analysis.

Despite the value of the voluntary sector to the UK, there has been a 15.4% decline in the total number of frequent hours1 volunteered, between 2005 and 2015 – a drop from 2.28 billion hours to 1.93 billion, figures from the Community Life Survey (CLS) show.

Latest figures from 2014 show volunteering represented 2% of the total value of unpaid work, and was worth £23 billion.2

Total frequent hours of formal volunteering, billion hours, 2005 to 2014

Overall, there was a decline in the amount of time put into volunteering. Between 2000 and 2015 it dropped from an average (mean) of 14.5 minutes per volunteer, per day to 13.7 minutes.

This equates to a drop from a weekly average of one hour and 42 minutes to one hour and 36 minutes per volunteer.

Young people and volunteering

The statistics suggest that those in the youngest age group of 16 to 24 have increased the time they devote to volunteering while those in the 25 to 34 age category have decreased their volunteering time.

In 2015 average time and participation in volunteering was higher for those aged between 16 and 24 (17 minutes per day and 51% participation) and was a noticeable rise as compared to those in the same age group in 2000 (nine minutes per day and 40 % participation).

It could be that, as younger people try and secure employment, they undertake voluntary work in order to enhance their CVs, but as they embed themselves in their careers, at an older age, their focus turns to building their careers.

Also, younger people have more free time, with participation rates for students rising the most – by 12 percentage points between 2000 and 2015 – from 46% to 58%.

 

Why religious people are happier

Happiness-beach-text

Reports that the latest Office for National Statistics survey seems to confirm what similar ones have already shown: religious people are happier.

 

Over four years, religious people scored their life satisfaction at 7.53 out of 10 and their happiness at 7.38. People with no religion scored their happiness at only 7.22. Compared with other faiths, Christians are mid-table at 7.47; Muslims are only 7.33, while Hindus are a cheerful 7.57.

 

There is a word of caution with interpreting this data though:

The temptation is to argue this proves religion makes you happy and satisfied with life. It’s not so, of course. For one thing, it might not be the content of faith – which all religious adherents would say is pretty important – that matters, but being part of a supportive community, which religions often provide. Another is that it might be happy, cheerful people who naturally like going to the church, or mosque, or gurdwara; if you’re naturally miserable, you’re more likely to stay at home.

Christmas dinner was £5 cheaper in 2015

Christmas dinner

The average cost of Christmas dinner has fallen by nearly £5 since 2014 meat, vegetable and drinks prices lower the cost of the festive set-piece, official figures have shown.

Based on the Office for National Statistics’ inflation data for 20 individual “Christmas” items, the cost of the meal – albeit substituting turkey steaks for a full turkey – has fallen from £105.78 to £100.84 in the past 12 months, a fall of just under 5 per cent.

Food prices – down 2.7 per cent year on year in November – have eased the pressure on household budgets.  The figures showed double-digit falls in the cost of broccoli, carrots, cream crackers and back bacon in the past year. The price of turkey steaks has also fallen by more than 8 per cent, while the price of the single biggest outlay – champagne – has sunk 6 per cent from £30.74 to £28.85, the ONS said. The average cost of a bottle of red wine and port are also down almost 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Out of 20 items included by the ONS in the “Christmas dinner” inflation basket, only four – sponge cake, ice-cream, ground coffee and a box of chocolates – are more expensive than a year ago. The average cost of sponge cake rose by far the most sharply, up from 95p to £1.43, or more than 50 per cent.

Although this 2015’s Christmas dinner is cheaper compared to 2014, shoppers are still paying more compared to previous years. In 2008 the same basket of goods cost £88.41, while in 2010 the festive meal cost £92.43 – more than £8 cheaper than 2015.