Male volunteering soars at British Heart Foundation

British Heart Foundation volunteers: Tripling of numbers since 2008 driven partly by rising unemployment, says the charity

The number of male volunteers working in shops run by the British Heart Foundation has more than tripled over the past three years, new figures show.

In 2008, the charity had 1,739 male volunteers in its shops: by 2011 this had risen to 5,472, a rise of 215 per cent, according to figures released by the charity.

The total number of volunteers has gone from 10,867 to 19,128 over the period, a rise of 76 per cent. The proportion of volunteers who are male has increased from about 16 per cent in 2008 to 29 per cent this year, a statement from the charity said.

It says that the rise in the proportion of male volunteers could be explained by increased unemployment over the period and the expansion of BHF’s furniture and electrical stores.

"These offer more traditionally masculine roles, including warehouse assistants and electrical function testers," it says.

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, told Third Sector there were more men available for volunteering roles than before because of rising unemployment levels.

She said charities should take advantage of this by taking a strategic overview of volunteering.

"They need to think about the roles that would appeal and also the right marketing messages that would appeal to those people," she said.

She added that it was important to remember how diverse our society was when planning different volunteering roles, and to consider roles that would appeal to different age groups and ethnicities as well.