There is limited highly processed evidence in the health sector of effective community initiatives aimed at building social inclusion and participation. There is some review level evidence to suggest that community engagement activities may impact on volunteering.
Informed by reviews of effectiveness evidence, NICE public health guidance 09 Community engagement to improve health made 12 action recommendations which together are intended to present 'the ideal scenario for effective community engagement.' These include recommendations about the prerequisites, infrastructure, approaches and evaluation for community engagement programmes. NHS Health Scotland commentary on this guidance supported these action points subject, where appropriate, to adaptation to fit Scottish organisational arrangements.
The evidence for the benefits of participation through volunteering is mixed. There is evidence to suggest volunteering can enhance mental wellbeing and reduce depression and depressive symptoms. Much of the evidence relates to older people. Volunteering can also benefit those experiencing mental health problems. A recent Scottish Survey indicated that those with good mental wellbeing appear to be more likely to give up time to volunteer than those with poor mental wellbeing, although the direction of causality is unknown.
NICE (2008). Public Health Guidance 09: Community engagement to improve health. NICE: London. http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PH9
NHS Health Scotland (2008). Health Scotland Commentary on NICE Public Health Guidance: Community engagement to improve health. NHS Health Scotland: Edinburgh.
Dolan, P., Peasgood, T. & White, M. (2006). Review of research on the influence on personal well-being and application to police making. Defra: London.
Parkinson J (2007). Establishing a core set of national, sustainable mental health indicators for adults in Scotland: Final report. NHS Health Scotland: Glasgow.