Neighbourly Lab have received research grant funding from Spirit of 2012 to better understand the nation’s motivations for getting involved locally, as part of national moments. We are specifically looking at this in the context of the King’s Coronation and how people will be helping out in their local community on the day.

The King’s Coronation will be a weekend for people to come together and celebrate, but is also a time for communities to connect and reflect on how we can use our time to support one another. This will especially be happening on May 8 for the Big Help Out in which millions of people will be lending a helping hand for a good cause, either for a charity or for their local community.

We are only at the beginning stages of our research, but it has so far been illuminating in helping us to dig into people’s motivations and barriers for taking part and how they see this type of participation as being different from formal volunteering. We hope to use our insights to develop a toolkit for use by groups and organisations seeking to mobilise locally and diversify the people who help out and take part.

It is interesting to note that for residents’ motivations for helping out at local events, in local activities or for local people is about increasing their sense of belonging. People talk about the importance of building a sense of community and making their place better off than it was before, so everyone benefits from living there. It is also about having an opportunity to get together and connect with friends and to meet new people in their area. Many residents have also reflected on how their community came together during Covid to support one another and how often that sense of community has lingered but that opportunities to help out have declined.

National moments feel more relevant when they have a local flavour.

We are learning that people want to be a part of something bigger, like a national moment, but they don’t want the commitment or formality of volunteering. They want to dip in and out of activities and community as they need, as life’s busy and there’s a lot going on in their personal lives. Especially in the context of the cost of living crisis and ongoing recovery from the pandemic, people’s time and resources are constrained so informal opportunities that are rooted in the needs of their community are more attractive.

National moments feel more relevant when they have a local flavour and are easy for people to participate in like a street party or a local park event. Sometimes they don’t feel relevant at all, however if something fun locally is going on and it brings people together, then people will muck in anyway.

We’ve heard mixed reactions to people wanting to volunteer because there’s an event for the King’s Coronation. Some feel that the Coronation is not relevant in their lives, most want to help out locally with people who are getting together on the bank holiday and to have an excuse to come together as a community, especially in difficult times.

All of this is interesting for organisations relying on volunteers and seeing a decline in new volunteers taking part in national events or regular events that require time commitments. We’ll dig a bit deeper into this throughout our research and see if we help bring people who like helping out together with tasks that need doing and enable people to easily get involved in these activities so that they can feel the benefits. Watch this space…

Further information