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National survey finds that life is better for young people who are involved in helping others

As Student Volunteering Week gets underway, research by the #iwill campaign confirms the benefits to young people of taking part in activities that make a positive difference. Those who are involved in volunteering and social action have significantly higher life-satisfaction than those who don’t, as well as having stronger personal networks.     

Involvement in social action is also shown to support confidence in gaining employment. The proportion of young people who felt it would help them to do so, rises steadily with the frequency of participation - 88% of those involved once a month thought social action would help them find work in future. 

The study, carried out by Ipsos MORI, also indicates that just 17% of 10 to 20-year-olds are reluctant to take part in activities like fundraising, campaigning and volunteering. However, currently, 42% of this age-group are shown to be participating - suggesting that appetite isn’t matched by the opportunities available.  

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) said: ‘It is encouraging to see fresh evidence of the appetite among young people to take action in support of others. Collectively we must do everything we can to capitalise on this passion for positive change and ensure there are opportunities for more young people to get involved.’  

This third annual National Youth Social Action survey shows that trends are emerging since the #iwill campaign was launched. Young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are taking part significantly more than they were in 2013. However, this group is still taking part less than their peers.

The survey also shows that support from teachers, parents and friends to get involved is vital. Almost all young people who take part in regular social action receive some form of encouragement, compared to less than half of those who have never taken part. This insight is backed up by the finding that schools and colleges remain the most common route into social action, with teachers identified as having a particularly strong influence on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Stephen Tutin, #iwill campaign young Ambassador said: ‘There was one statistic that really stood out to me - The difference in life satisfaction for those who participated in social action is roughly equivalent to the difference between permanent employees who are happy in their job and those who don’t have a job and are seeking work. This is why the #iwill campaign is so important’. 

The research demonstrates the importance of young people feeling empowered in their communities. Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive, Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign said: “Growing up in a turbulent and ever-changing world can feel pretty challenging. Young people want to know they can make a difference – do something to improve the world and their communities. Which is why this new research is fantastic - confirming that social action supports young people to develop skills, improve their wellbeing and build links with others. That’s why we’re calling on new partners to join the #iwill campaign and support even more young people to experience the benefits of social action and make a positive change in the world.’ 

 The full report can be found below. 

First published 08 February 2018