We wanted to explore the evidence about recruiting volunteers to support vulnerable families. So we commissioned independent researchers to review relevant literature from the NSPCC and other key sources, focusing on information published since 2012.
The literature review considers why volunteers are recruited and examines the benefits and challenges of volunteer deployment. It also looks at the support volunteers can offer families facing challenging circumstances, and the operational and strategic considerations of setting up volunteer support systems.
Authors: Dr Louca-Mai Brady and Berni Graham
Volunteer coordinators have a responsibility towards supporting volunteers and families. They are important for:
There is evidence of volunteer support having a positive impact on families, including benefits to mothers’ mental health, wellbeing and confidence. And volunteers were also found to experience benefits, such as increased confidence and the chance to ‘give something back’ to communities.
There are also opportunities to acquire new information and skills, which helps some to pursue fresh education and employment pathways.
Challenges include targeting the right people to work as volunteers, ensuring diversity and providing appropriate training and support. There are also issues with volunteer retention, and navigating the boundary line between volunteers behaving like friends or professionals.
This report makes suggestions around three key areas for those considering involving volunteers in service delivery:
The report also makes recommendations for the NSPCC’s development, implementation and scaling of services.
Brady, L. and Graham, B. (2021) Volunteering with vulnerable families: a rapid review of the literature. London: NSPCC.
Work with children and families? Our information looks at risk and vulnerability factors that help identify whether children or families require extra support to help keep children safe.
We explore the services volunteers provide to vulnerable families as well as what current research evidence says about involving volunteers in service delivery and the impact of this.
Looking for similar services? We have a range of services that support parents and families in caring for their children.