The Hidden Diamonds report revealed the true value of volunteers in sport
The Hidden Diamonds report revealed the true value of volunteers in sport

Hidden Diamonds: What happened next?

Looking back on three months of activity since publication, we assess the impact of Join In’s Hidden Diamonds: Uncovering the true value of sport volunteers and it’s potential to reshape our view of volunteering.

Our research has been picked up widely within the sports industry, but it also provided a great backdrop to our December #BigThankYou campaign with BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Speaking in the House of Lords in December, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson used it to show her support for the value of volunteering:

The research report, Hidden Diamonds, found that each sports volunteer generates more than £16,000 of social value every year, which equates to a staggering £53 billion of social value when it is scaled up. These people should be praised, encouraged and thanked… without them, sport as we know it would not exist.”

On 12th December former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and only yesterday reaffirmed his support for Join In’s work with a piece in the Financial Times, pictured below.

Lord O'Donnell appeared in the Financial Times in support of Join In.

Telling the story of our research is obviously important but we’ve also been working with a range of partners to unpack and explore the wider value of Hidden Diamonds.

Value for the volunteering community

In the volunteering sector there’s been much interest in learning about the approach we adopted. It certainly helped that by fortunate coincidence our methodology mirrored that of Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England in his social value of volunteering speech last year.

As a result, we’re now collaborating with a number of volunteer-involving agencies through the CSV-coordinated NNVIA network, and have shared our learnings with the wider volunteering community through NCVO. This work with the voluntary sector is very important to us – the sharing of such assets is a key aspect of Join In’s commitment to extending the volunteering legacy from the Games as widely as possible.

Value for boosting participation and wellbeing

In highlighting the fact that one volunteer creates the capacity for at least 8.5 people to play sport, we’ve captured the attention of many organisations looking to help more people get active. We’ve been talking to Sport England, National Governing Bodies and County Sports Partnerships, Public Health England (PHE), the Department of Health and many others about the contribution volunteers can make to their participation strategies and programmes.

Hidden Diamonds is also feeding into the emerging evidence base around emotional and community wellbeing. It’s already been cited as an exemplar by PHE and featured as a ‘pioneer’ of the new What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Turning evidence into opportunity

Between the creation of the What Works Centre, the innovative work of agencies like the Behavioural Insights Team and the efforts of the Office for National Statistics’ to help policy makers look beyond GDP as the only measure of societal success, it’s clear there is real appetite in public policy circles for finding new ways to generate better economic, health and social outcomes.

What’s needed now is to increase our understanding of volunteering’s role in getting more people active. Join In’s focus is on engaging with the many partners working in this field, to ensure that collectively we can achieve this.

– Read the full Hidden Diamonds report.

– Listen below (13 minutes) to Gus O’Donnell speaking at our launch in Whitehall.

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