Volunteering transforms lives, says survey

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6th June 2014

Vitalise survey of young volunteers highlights social and personal benefits of volunteering

Young lives are being transformed by the experience of volunteering, says a new survey of young volunteers by disability charity Vitalise during National Volunteers’ Week.

Vitalise, a charity that engages with thousands of young volunteers each year, has revealed the incredible benefits to individuals and society as a result of volunteering opportunities, especially among the young.

In its survey of current and former volunteers aged 16-25 – who make up around 80% of all the charity’s volunteers – Vitalise found that an incredible 8 out of 10 (82%) believed that the experience had put their lives on a more positive course.

And, in support of the charity Scope’s ongoing ‘End the Awkward’ campaign, Vitalise also asked its young volunteers if their experience had made them feel less awkward around people with disabilities. A unanimous 9 out of 10 (91%) said yes.

9 out of 10 of all the volunteers surveyed said that they had gained valuable life or job skills as a result of volunteering and almost three quarters (73%) said that the experience had encouraged them to pursue or supported their existing further education or training.

The survey was carried out by Vitalise to highlight the many social and personal benefits of volunteering for young people. The charity, which provides essential respite breaks at its three UK centres, runs one of the largest residential volunteer programmes of any UK charity.

Drilling down on the many other personal benefits of volunteering for young people, the survey also found that over 9 out of 10 respondents said that they felt more confident (93%) and well-rounded (95%) as a result of volunteering.

Likewise, the motivational effect of volunteering was also very clear when it comes to improving society; over 8 out of 10 (83%) of the young volunteers surveyed said that volunteering had prompted them to get more involved in their local communities and nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) said it had inspired them to play a greater part in society generally.

In terms of the world of work, the survey also revealed that volunteering is hugely advantageous in giving young job seekers a head start over their rivals.

64% of the 16-25 year-olds said they were unemployed when they volunteered for Vitalise. However, over half of the same age group (52%) believed that volunteering had improved their prospects of getting paid work and, to prove their point, of the volunteers who had since found paid employment, a fifth said that volunteering had helped them get their jobs.

Each year Vitalise’s army of around 2,000 volunteers – around 80% of whom are aged 16-25 – give a total of 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 volunteers are integral to Vitalise’s mission to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and carers by providing vital opportunities for social interaction. The volunteers enable the centres’ guests to take full advantage of the inclusive social activities and excursions provided by Vitalise.

Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:

“As a charity our aim is to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by providing them with revitalising experiences, and it is safe to say that without the contribution of our young volunteers we would not be able to achieve that mission.

“So what is particularly gratifying about this survey is that it shows that young volunteers are benefitting just as much as from the volunteering experience as the people they are supporting.

“Our survey clearly shows that giving one’s time voluntarily to a worthy cause can have a transformative effect on young people and help steer them towards a more positive and fulfilling course at a key period in their lives.

“What’s more, not only do volunteers become more optimistic about their own futures, but they are also inspired to play a role in improving society too.

“When it comes to today’s young people we are all too familiar with the rather lazy stereotypes, but in our experience the young volunteers who come through our doors are a credit to their generation. They have shown themselves to be clued up, switched on and hungry to engage with society.

“I hope this survey will inspire many more young people to try their hand at volunteering and take advantage of the many, potentially life-changing benefits it provides.”

 

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