Skip to content

Celebrating volunteers

As the return to play from the coronavirus restrictions continues, Jennie Arthur blogs about the role volunteers are playing.

01st June 2021

by Jennie Arthur
Senior workforce project manager, Sport England

As lockdown continues to ease, it’s not just participants who are enjoying being able to return to their clubs and groups.

To the delight of millions of volunteers, they are now able to get back to doing what they love as well.

It’s not been an easy time for volunteers. While many will have had to make the difficult decision to step back to shield themselves or protect family members, others have been able to step forward to help their communities when they needed it most.

This has often meant going above and beyond their usual commitments, working tirelessly to support their clubs and community groups to come through these challenging times.

Thank you

This week is Volunteers’ Week, a time to recognise and champion the amazing efforts of the people who make community sport possible.

Last month, we shared a message of thanks to all the amazing volunteers who’ve helped sport and physical activity over the last year. Led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, the video celebrates the invaluable role that volunteers have played throughout the pandemic and sends a message of heartfelt thanks to all those who’ve supported, and continue to support, grassroots sport and physical activity.  


If you're involved in an organisation that relies on volunteers, why not share the video on social media? It'd be great to let everyone who volunteers in sport and physical activity know how appreciated they are. 

A time to inspire

As well as thanking volunteers, Volunteers’ Week is also an opportunity to inspire others to want to get back into volunteering, or perhaps to do so for the first time.

Over the course of the next seven days, we’re asking volunteers to tell their stories on social media using #VolunteersWeek - to share why they do what they do and what it means to them to be back. By giving them a platform to share their stories, we want to help people reconnect with their motivations, to remember their ‘why’ and the difference they make.

Whether it’s to give back to a sport they love, or to help children be the best they can be, the reasons why people volunteer are many and varied.

For people like Malcolm, a Cycling Projects volunteer, helping others achieve brings a huge joy and satisfaction.

“It’s impossible to describe in words the gigantic beaming smile on my face and the warm satisfaction I felt inside when one of our clients managed to cycle on his own for the first time with my guidance,” he said.

“My smile was nothing compared to that on his face and that of his carer.

“Why volunteer? For the times and moments of sheer joy it often brings.”

For others, the personal benefits can be significant, especially after such a challenging year.

Whether it’s to give back to a sport they love, or to help children be the best they can be, the reasons why people volunteer are many and varied.

Anthony helps disabled people get into cycling and volunteering has positively impacted his wellbeing.

“I was going a little stir crazy, after a year of lockdown and isolation, so I was looking for something to get involved with,” he said.

“In a few short weeks of volunteering, I feel happier and more confident. I feel more worthwhile than I did before.”

The benefits of volunteering

At a time when sports clubs and organisations have faced unprecedented challenges, the invaluable role of those who give up their time to support the sport sector has never been more apparent.  Without them, community sport would look considerably different.

But what’s also apparent is the positive impact volunteering has on those who give their time. Volunteers have missed the feelings of purpose, impact and satisfaction which volunteering can bring.

There’s a sense of anticipation and excitement amongst volunteers, and an appreciation of the vital role they play in helping community sport bounce back. 

With the support of our amazing volunteers, community sport will thrive again, enabling millions of people to benefit from all the great things we know sport and physical activity can provide.

To those who give their time to support others, thank you.

Please keep giving whatever time you can and keep making the difference – because you really do.

To hear more from inspirational volunteers, check out some of the stories below about what it means to them to be back doing what they love.

Happy #VolunteersWeek!

'Why I volunteer'

  • Michael Whittaker - Bournemouth BMX Club chairman and Access Sport coach

    I've been lucky enough to have been riding bikes for over 45 years and it’s something I've always taken for granted.

    Volunteering and coaching gives me the opportunity to try and give people the same opportunities and enjoyment that I’ve had through cycling, both on a competitive and fun level. Volunteering also gives me the opportunity to stay involved in cycling long after my legs give up.

    I still ride and compete myself and a return to volunteering also means a return to riding for myself.  Lockdown left us all in limbo and I’m sure many coaches and volunteers felt the same frustrations as many of our riders did.

    I couldn't wait to get back into coaching and club activities and it’s been great to see so many familiar faces again. It’s been good also to build up people’s confidence in their riding again and to interact with others after such a long period of enforced lockdown.     

    Volunteering is what we do and it’s a huge part of my life as I’m sure it is for lots of people. Life is too short to spend it watching TV and drinking tea, restrictions are easing it time to ride bikes!

    Read less
  • Sabah Hamed – ECB volunteer for Dream Big Desi Women

    Why do I volunteer? To be the reason why someone’s day was a little brighter because of cricket.

    I wanted to get back into volunteering because I can see and hear all the pent up energy and demand for cricket all around me. When I’m volunteering it’s the one time I am able to be me, have fun, be surrounded by incredible women and make a difference to my community.

    This is a time when we all need to support each other as we come out of this pandemic and hopefully I am able to start the journey to a healthier community.

    Read less
  • Martin Collcott, chairman, City of Peterborough Sports Club

    Lockdown and the various restrictions imposed has not been easy over the last 12 months, with challenging conversations regarding expenditure costs and very little income being generated through match fees and social events/bar takings.

    We’ve needed to take a measured and practical approach and return gradually and ensure the membership were comfortable in returning to a safe environment, compliant with government guidance.

    The conversations I’ve had with members have been very encouraging and in some ways quite emotional, in that they are now returning to the sports and comradeship they’ve missed and have been very gracious to the volunteers who’ve kept the sports club functional during this unprecedented time.

    Volunteering, for me, is all about putting something back into the club that has in the past given something to you.

    As a member for 47 years and having played all the sports being offered to a different standard, I had the support of volunteers during that time to encourage me and build up my confidence of being around other members from different backgrounds and cultures.

    In turn, through volunteering I can see the development of our juniors who are now benefiting in the same way I did all those years ago.

    Read less

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.