With their budget under threat, Liverpool City Council needed to know how robust the third sector was in the city. Was the ‘Big Society’ a realistic hope? TCC were commissioned to try and understand whether volunteers were likely to ‘step up’, and if so how they could be encouraged to? The aim was firstly to conduct insight research with residents and staff to ‘take the temperature’ of the city’s appetite for civic engagement, and secondly to develop a strategy for mobilising it.
How we approached it
We surveyed residents and existing volunteers in the city, as well as council staff. We also carried out focus groups and did Values Modes analysis – values being essential in identifying propensity to donate time. We found that people in Liverpool are disproportionately Pioneer, with a smaller Settler population than comparable cities. This was a positive sign, as Pioneers are more disposed to civic engagement. Moreover, when testing attitudes we found that there was an appetite for volunteering across Pioneers, Prospectors and even Settlers. Most tended to get involved because they were asked by friends. Prospectors would be inspired to help with education and training; Settlers would be more willing to volunteer with the elderly and the sick.
We were therefore able, using Values Modes, to give Liverpool a better picture of their options. We suggested a localised approach, using community channels to promote volunteering and emphasise pride in residents’ immediate area – and making the most of the asset that a Pioneer-heavy population offers. And with Pioneers already inclined to volunteer, we suggested a focus on particular sectors to maximise the potential among Prospectors and Settlers.