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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Young people twice as likely as adults to volunteer

This news post is about 7 years old

More than half of 11-18 year olds volunteer compared to just over a quarter of adults, new research finds

Young people are now nearly twice as likely to volunteer than adults are, new research has found.

Volunteer Scotland found that 52% of young people volunteered in the last year, compared to only 27% of adults.

In a survey carried out by by Ipsos-Mori of people aged 11-18 on behalf of the organisation, it was found that 146,000 had formally volunteered with one in three doing so at least once a month.

Overall that's an increase of 19% from 2009.

Researchers found that youth volunteering is much more inclusive than was expected.

The proportion of young people who volunteer in school time, such as at lunch clubs, in the most deprived areas is the same as the least deprived areas (both 33%) and volunteering participation by those with a physical or mental health condition is greater than young people generally.

However, the research identified some significant challenges.

Volunteering participation outside school, such as fundraising for a youth group, declines dramatically in areas of deprivation with 50% of young people who go to a school with no pupils in the lowest group in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation volunteering compared to 16% of those who are from a school where at least 60% of pupils come from the lowest group in the index.

Those living in rural areas (65%) are more likely volunteer than those in urban areas (49%) and 58% of girls volunteer compared to just 46% of boys.

Matthew Linning, head of research at Volunteer Scotland, said the report on the whole was good news and suggested there are likely to be a number of factors behind the big increase such as incentives offered by the likes of the Saltire Awards and Duke of Edinburgh, young people being encouraged to volunteer by parents and teachers and young people looking to gain skills and experience for their CV in an increasingly tight job market.

This appears to be backed up by the researchers' findings that volunteering participation more than halves to 24% for the 25 – 34 age group.

“Clearly, some factors would appear unique to youngsters 'preparing' for a career,” he said.

“Once employed the ‘career’ drivers are significantly reduced. Also, there is no teacher influence once out of school and the influence of family members also declines as young people mature.

“However, it is clear that there has also been a significant amount of targeted support to influence young people to volunteer, through awards, bespoke programmes, etc.

“Therefore, perhaps there is a case for more policy interest and funding to support an increase in adult volunteering. We know that the benefits can be far reaching and the impacts profound especially for those who are the most disadvantaged in society.”

Commenting on the report Barry Fisher, director DofE Scotland welcomed it saying it builds on other recent research into youth volunteering and the strong engagement young people are showing in their communities. He called on more to be done to close the gap in attainment for rural and disadvantaged young people.

“We welcome the positive findings of the recent Volunteer Scotland report,” he added.

“It is our experience at the DofE that young people can get involved in interesting and relevant volunteer opportunities when great adults support them.

“Importantly, the Volunteer Scotland report finds that there is a gap in attainment for rural and disadvantaged young people.

“All organisations providing volunteer opportunities to young people should be aware of this gap and respond to it positively.”

A day in the life of a young volunteer

Young people twice as likely as adults to volunteer

​Lewis is a typical 13-year-old boy. Above is how volunteering impacts his day.