Volunteering is vital to UK environmental and social goals

Volunteering is at the forefront of how the UK can achieve its environmental and social goals, enhancing the Net Zero movement and being of great economic importance

The importance of volunteerism is often, and rightly, emphasized for the contribution it makes to society through selfless volunteers.

However, their importance is rarely recognized in terms of the vital services they provide and the economic importance they have for the future of the UK, including the environment and the UK’s 2050 Net Zero targets. United.

Walking and cycling charity Sustrans is fortunate to have thousands of volunteers across the UK who volunteer their time, energy and experience to support national and local projects, says Katie Aartse- Tuyn, head of volunteering at Sustrans.

Since the pandemic, the number of volunteers has increased across the UK. Not only was the general public willing, given the most time they had, but one could argue that it may also have been inspired by the realization that vital causes require champions.

Whether it’s advice on wellbeing, NHS support, helping with education, running food banks or other community initiatives, the value these volunteer roles have for our society makes it an essential service.

What are the UK’s most pressing goals?

Changing social and activity behaviours, and our expectations of how we travel, is crucial to the UK’s most pressing goals; Net zero carbon emissions by 2050, protecting the national ecology and thwarting the current cost of living crisis.

To achieve Net Zero by 2050, we see government-led campaigns to identify how all carbon emissions can be reduced, and then measures introduced to do so.

The participation of young people is essential in this regard, with volunteers playing a crucial role. Volunteers who campaign and deliver education programs to encourage the adoption of active travel for all, especially young people, are among our best chances of achieving this.

Some regional volunteer activities of Sustrans take place in schools; teach young people to ride a bike or scooter, lead rides or walks, organize information events, etc.

volunteering, net zero

Volunteers and the rise of the Net Zero movement

Volunteers raising awareness of the health benefits of active travel and associated carbon reduction (such as through School Streets projects) and greater consideration of the community in urban planning are integral to any plan for Net Zero.

Britain’s ecology is under threat and passionate volunteers are working tirelessly to counter the negative tide of ecological damage caused by urban development and the loss of green space.

Wildlife volunteers help keep a nature log on local roads, monitoring wildlife and the growth of plants and flowers, creating spaces where people can come and learn about nature and conservation. It may seem simple, but the positive effect is wide and vital.

In the context of the cost of living crisis, the work of volunteers, particularly in terms of active travel, has a beneficial impact on the local economy. As active transportation infrastructure, such as the National Cycling Network, expands, we are seeing regional economic benefits through supply chain activation.

Low-traffic neighborhoods, which aim to further boost local businesses, as well as community cohesion and reduced carbon emissions, are supported by volunteers, directing traffic and installing road closure signs.

Volunteers account for 2% of unpaid work in the UK

The value of volunteers is equivalent to a huge economic hit if volunteering declines. Figures from 2014 showed volunteers accounted for 2% of unpaid work, equivalent to £23billion.

Active and sustainable transportation impacts all of the above, and the value of volunteers’ contributions of time, energy and passion should not be underestimated.

Promoting healthy activity among all people, especially young people, is key to improving the UK’s health problems and the burden on the NHS. Sustainable transportation, with equal access for all, helps reduce the damage carbon emissions do to our health and ecology.

Without volunteers championing these causes, the UK would be far from achieving these goals and public awareness of their urgency would be much muted.

However, it is not only an established route to gaining personal experience, but it is vital for those with experience to volunteer for pressing causes.

Health professionals provide free health advice in communities around the world, and volunteer legal experts help legal clinics advocate for socially and economically vulnerable people.

The causes to which people give their time are both historic and imminent. We must recognize the will and vigor of those who want to see the best for their communities and future generations.

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