There have been a series of announcements this week about what’s in store for the Coronation of King Charles III in May. As well as the ceremony itself, there are plans for three major events and initiatives: a star-studded live concert at Windsor, a community-focused Coronation Big Lunch, and on Monday 8 May, the bank holiday, a huge volunteer drive, The Big Help Out to encourage thousands of people across the UK to give their time.

It’s a fantastic itinerary, and we welcome the focus on volunteering and seeding a network of smaller, community events which, under the umbrella of a major national or international event, are enormously important to communities. Many people will be looking forward to the weekend, and joining in the celebrations. In last year’s Platinum Jubilee, 44% of people said that’d taken part in one or more event, a staggering 23.3 million people.

In the context of our work at Spirit of 2012, the announcement this week was timely. On Monday we published the findings and recommendations from an Inquiry into the Power of Events. The five recommendations focused on: funding, accountability and governance; giving equal weight to legacy planning; attention to who does and who doesn’t benefit; building bridges across divides and, where there’s a volunteering programme, long-term planning to ensure those volunteers go on to do great things.

So how can we make sure that The Big Help Out isn’t a flash in the pan, that the wave of volunteering inspired by the Coronation doesn’t start to ebb when people wake up on the Tuesday morning?

Our Inquiry found that while there are some amazing examples of good practice of event-based volunteering programmes creating long-term impact, such as HEY! Volunteering, there have been many missed opportunities. The Big Help Out, like volunteer drives before it, will inspire new people to take part. Some of those people will be content with a one-off experience, others will find they’re switched on to do more. We know that some organisations are find enough volunteers, while at the same time there are frustrated volunteers from previous recruitment drives feeling underappreciated and underused. How can we avoid that with the Big Help Out?

Our inquiry report offers some first steps. In summary:

  • Have a volunteer legacy plan.
  • Decide who “owns” that plan post-event – make sure there’s funding for it, and that the permissions are in place to access volunteers.
  • Prioritise inclusion and address barriers to participation, understanding volunteer motivations and offering a variety of pathways into volunteering such as digital opportunities for disabled. The Coronation offers a real opportunity to bring in people who haven’t thought about volunteering before.
  • Understand where there is most need for ongoing volunteer locally and collaborate with those organisations so they can signpost people to their opportunities after the event.

Our work has only just started. Over the next (and final) three years of Spirit’s time on earth, we’ll be working on understanding the challenges of inclusive volunteering and sharing good practice, and working with Bradford UK City of Culture 2025 and three ‘Volunteering Cities’ to test different approaches to delivering sustainable and inclusive community volunteering programmes.

Further information

Find out more about the Inquiry into the Power of Events and download the Inquiry report.

Find out more about Volunteering Cities.

Find out more about inclusive volunteering and download our Volunteering Together: Inclusive Volunteering and Disabled People guide.