Vitalise volunteer survey reveals young people are leading the way
A survey of volunteers by national disability charity Vitalise has backed up Demos’s recent findings and revealed that today’s young people – the so-called ‘Generation Y’ – are leading the way when it comes to improving themselves – and society.
Vitalise’s findings chime with those of Demos and have highlighted the many benefits of volunteering for young people seeking a foothold in society.
In the Vitalise survey, 9 out of 10 of the respondents aged 16-25 said that volunteering had left them feeling more confident and well-rounded and inspired them to play a greater part in society as a result.
Vitalise runs the largest residential volunteer programme of any UK charity. Each year the charity’s army of around 2,000 volunteers – 83% of whom are aged between 16 and 25 and 32% are under 19 – give over 4,000 weeks of their time in order to live and work at the charity’s three UK respite break centres for people with disabilities and carers.
The social value of volunteering was made very clear by the survey, with over 99% of all respondents agreeing that volunteering for Vitalise had improved their understanding and attitude towards people with disabilities and 84% saying it had that improved their understanding and attitude towards diverse nationalities and cultures.
On a less positive note, the survey also highlighted the particular challenges faced by younger people in getting a foothold in the world of work. Over half (54%) the 16-25 year-olds surveyed were unemployed, compared with less than a quarter (24%) of 26-45 year-olds. For a fifth (21%) of 16-25 year-olds, volunteering with Vitalise had been their only experience of a work environment to date.
However, the younger volunteers not in work remained upbeat, with 84% of the 16-25 year-olds believing that volunteering had improved their prospects of getting paid work.
Of the 16-25 year-olds now in work since volunteering, nearly half (48%) said that volunteering for Vitalise had helped them gain paid employment and 80% believed it had improved their prospects of advancement in their jobs.
Vitalise believes its research clearly demonstrates the value of volunteering in combatting negative media stereotypes and low self-esteem among young people. The Demos research found that four out of five teens felt they were unfairly represented in the media and, of these, a vast majority (85%) said this was affecting their chances of getting a job.
In the light of the Demos report and the findings of its own research, Vitalise is renewing its appeal to young people to try their hand at volunteering for the charity and take advantage of the many opportunities for personal and professional advancement that it provides.
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:
“It was very encouraging to read of Demos’s findings since they confirmed what we at Vitalise have known for some time – that this current generation of young people has a thing or two to teach the rest of us when it comes to making the world a better place.
“What’s particularly gratifying about the Demos report is just how accurately it reflects our own research. In our experience, young people are very keen to broaden their horizons through volunteering and as a result they become more optimistic about their own futures and more inspired to play a role in improving society too.
“In our view, society will be in safe hands with ‘Generation Y’ coming through, so we think it’s high time we stopped demonising young people and started singing their praises instead.”