I missed this when it came out a month ago but it's worth going back to. We now have Citizenship survey figures for informal volunteering for the first half of the present year (April - September) and the decline ought to be of real concern to policy makers.
Over a year ago I pointed out a five per cent decline within the space of a year. The proportion saying that they volunteer informally at least once per month is now down to 27 per cent; and once per year, 54 per cent. These compare with 37 per cent and 68 per cent respectively in the bumper year of 2005. I devised this chart from data supplied in Table 5 here.
I've suggested before that this trend might just be a bit critical in terms of care for older people. I'm writing this in the plush comfort of the night ferry (yes, free reliable wifi) on my way back from an insightful study visit to the Netherlands. Two intensive days of learning have clarified the argument for me sharply. The Dutch are well in front of us: their Social Support Act (2007) has led to a radical emphasis on informal support and social networks, which I want to cover in my next post.