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Volunteers in Adult Social Care (VASC): An evaluation of the national volunteer responders scheme


In June 2023, the Government introduced a new, national scheme to increase the numbers of volunteers in adult social care services. ‘NHS and Care Volunteer Responders’ builds on the NHS volunteer scheme set up during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this new scheme, an online system will ‘match’ potential volunteers with care providers and organisations who wish to recruit more volunteers.

This study aims to:

  • understand what volunteers and care providers think of the online system, and their experiences of using it,
  • see if the new system helps more people volunteer in adult social care and the types of support / activities they provide as volunteers,
  • find out if having more volunteers makes a difference to care providers, care workers, volunteers and people who use adult social care services and their friends and family.


Mixed-methods evaluation, in two phases.

Phase 1
  • Scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature on volunteering in adult social care in Covid and onwards, to inform and contextualise the study.
  • Interviews with care providers (who do and do not use the online system), national care provider organisations and locality based voluntary sector groups about the feasibility and accessibility of the scheme.
Phase 2
  • Interviews with care providers, volunteers, staff, people who use social care services and their friends and family to explore recruitment, retention and perceived impact of volunteers in adult social care.
Phase 1 and 2
  • Quantitative analysis of data from the online system on care provider and prospective volunteer characteristics, volunteer roles and hours, and ‘matching’ of volunteers and care providers at baseline and over time. Comparison with national data on volunteering in England.

The study team includes a Public and Patient Involvement lead and 4-5 lay members with different volunteering/social care experiences.

Anticipated impact and dissemination

We are working closely with DHSC colleagues to ensure the findings have policy and practice impact. We will produce interim and final reports to DHSC, journal articles and conference presentations, summary findings for ASC providers, voluntary sector organisations and other stakeholders.


This is an 18-month study from September 2023 to February 2025.


NIHR Policy Research Programme

Project team

Kalpa Kharicha (PI), Jen Owen, Monica Leverton, Caroline Norrie, Tony Burch (PPI Lead)

Project status: Ongoing