The contribution of volunteers in the response to COVID-19 has rightly received considerable attention. Media reports have suggested levels of participation are soaring, but behind the headlines lie a series of questions about what volunteering is taking place, who is getting involved and how it is organised. This briefing draws on literature about volunteering during both crises and ‘normal’ times to begin to address these questions. It suggests that what is happening now should encourage us to think in new ways about volunteering, while also acknowledging some of the enduring strengths and challenges associated with it.
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