With 10 million people volunteering every week and their economic value estimated at £40m a year it’s clear society depends a great deal on them.
However, it’s only recently that it’s begun to feature so highly on the political agenda, with volunteering taking on a new, almost ‘hip’ image.
Dr Justin Davis Smith from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said: “People are beginning to realise the many benefits of giving their time.
“Not only is there the opportunity to help an individual or groups of people in your community, volunteers can meet new people, connect with their local area and enhance their employability skills. With volunteering you really get back what you put in.”
There is also mounting evidence that volunteering can improve your health and that volunteers live longer.
At 95, Allan Buck, who lives in Belford, is certainly proof of this. He has volunteered for The Officers’ Association (OA), a military charity that looks after the welfare of officers and their families since 1948.
He kept going into his late 80s before nominating his good friend Kerry Noble, 68, and also a Belford resident, to take over.
It’s not as though Allan hasn’t been in some adverse circumstances himself.
In 1918 he was born during a zeppelin raid in south London and in WWII served throughout the Italian campaign. In 1944 he was very badly wounded, which put an end to his fighting days although he continued serving as a military governor until 1948.
Then, at the age of 80, Buck parachuted out of a plane for Macmillan, raising £2000 for the charity.
“If you’re capable of helping others, it should be part of your make-up,” said Allan. “We must remember to count our blessings, especially when the urge to grumble takes over.”
Kerry, who volunteers for the Glasgow and Lanarkshire Battalion for the Army cadet force, as well as the OA, has also seen the positive effect volunteering can have on young people too.
“I’ve seen a completely different change in attitude to life from young volunteers in Glasgow who have had to do community service, as part of their grading in the cadets,” he said.