Examining the place of public service volunteering

The first paper from the People Shaped Localism programme being run by the RSA (see note) is on the rise of public service volunteering as a critical element of local public service delivery.

‘Volunteering’ is first in the programme because we believe that localism should start with the citizen and the community, and their innate Power to Create.

The report ‘Volunteering and Public Services‘ suggests that, by expanding formal and informal volunteering, local public services have a positive opportunity to promote wellbeing and social value, move resources towards prevention, and redesign services to be more inclusive, collaborative and accountable to their communities and service users.

There is also a ‘Volunteering Map‘. The RSA argues that understanding the individual character of places is crucial to helping communities do more to support each other. The economic character of a place matters to volunteering, but it is not all that matters – the map shows relative rates of volunteering, adjusted to levels of deprivation.


The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.