Under 25s most likely to volunteer in their community

Young people are more likely to volunteer in the community than older people
Young people are more likely to volunteer in the community than older people

Young people in the region are more likely to volunteer in their communities than their older counterparts, according to official stats.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 39% of people aged 16 to 24 have volunteered in the community in the last year, compared with 37% of people aged 25 and over.

Across the board, people are volunteering less than they were, with 48% of under 25s and 45% of over 25s volunteering in 2013/14.

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Linda Horsburgh, events people and projects manager for Left Bank Leeds based in Hyde Park, Leeds, said the arts organisation welcomes lots of people who volunteer as part of a college or university course.

She said: “They are usually looking to get stuck into a project that can help them with their studies so it's more often than not students from arts based courses.

“Most of our over 25s have said that they were interested in volunteering to meet people, feel a sense of community, and feel as though they were giving some of their time back. For under 25s it's mostly around work experience.”

Cancer Research UK credited youth organisations for the increase. Emma Colbourne, senior area events manager, said: “This year in particular we have seen a real increase in support from local youth organisations including Police Cadets, Air Cadets, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets. We have also received some great volunteer support from the Yorkshire Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association unit who have helped with numerous volunteer roles.”

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However, other charities and voluntary organisations said they struggled to recruit youngsters.

Hull’s City of Culture Volunteer Programme has more than 2,500 volunteers across the city.

“That is actually the opposite of what we have found, with our average volunteer age being around 55,” said Rachael Abbey, volunteer events and community engagement coordinator. “We do have some incredible volunteers under 25 but we are always looking for more young people to get involved.”

Ms Abbey said the organisation is now doing more targeted recruitment in an effort to attract younger people.

Aside from benefits to their career, young people might find volunteering benefits their mental health too, at a time when teachers and universities have warned of a mental health “crisis” among children and young people.

The Royal Voluntary Service, which is running a campaign to recruit dozens of volunteers for hospitals and communities in Yorkshire has seen an increase in young people volunteering to spend time with elderly people over the last five years. Rebecca Kennelly, director of volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service said: “[Volunteering] is not just beneficial for the patients – many of our young volunteers tell us that they have gained a new appreciation for older people and enjoy listening to their wealth of experience and stories. We also know that many younger volunteers gain confidence, learn new skills which often contribute to future employment.”