2nd Oct 2017 - The census – and the volunteering question
The census takes place every ten years in the UK, with the next one due in 2021.
How good would it be if the census included questions about volunteering? It would give us a basis for monitoring long term trends as well for making geographical comparisons between one region and another.
The possibility has been considered and a great deal of development and testing of pilot questions has taken place.
The first pilot tested a potential census question which sought to identify the amount of time people spent volunteering. A sample of respondents was then interviewed to find out how they answered the question and to discover any ambiguities.
After consultation with WCVA and other stakeholders the question was refined to focus more on the frequency of volunteering and further testing was carried out. Volunteers, it seems, still often had difficulty in placing themselves within one of the given frequency categories, especially in cases where the volunteering was irregular.
A census test took place with 200,000 households, which incorporated the second version of the volunteering question. This survey is now being evaluated.
The decision has yet to be made as to whether volunteering is included in the final census - it is most likely that it will be displaced due to other priorities (including that of sexual identify).
However, the results of the research and testing done to date will be published in December. We will let you know when this is available.