Report by YouGov and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations also suggests that volunteering reduces the feeling of isolation in young people
Almost four in 10 Britons volunteer, according to a survey of more than 10,000 adults. The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, is the largest poll on the subject in more than 10 years.
The vast majority of respondents said that volunteering benefits their mental health and serves as an antidote to loneliness. Some 77 per cent said it had improved their mental health, and 53 per cent their physical health.
The study found that 77 per cent of 18-24 year olds – the group that is statistically most likely to be affected by feelings of loneliness – said volunteering made them feel less socially isolated.
In other findings, of those who had volunteered in the last 12 months:
• 77 per cent said that volunteering had improved their mental health and wellbeing, and 53 per cent said it had improved their physical health
• 74 per cent said that volunteering had given them more confidence, with the figure rising to 84 per cent among 18-24 year olds
• 71 per cent said they had gained new skills and experience, rising to 85 per cent among 18-24 year olds
• 96 per cent were satisfied with their experience and seven in 10 would recommend it to others
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: “As well as making a difference to the causes people care about, volunteering brings a vast range of benefits to those who take part.
“Volunteering can be truly transformative for people’s lives. It reduces isolation, improves confidence, provides new experiences, improves employment prospects, and fundamentally it’s deeply rewarding.”
Volunteering can be truly transformative for people’s lives
But, he noted, those who stand to benefit the most from volunteering are less likely to be involved. “Institutions – charities and the public sector – need to take a hard look at themselves and think about what barriers they may inadvertently be creating.
“In particular, we need to make sure it’s easy to start volunteering. Our research suggests young people have higher expectations of the process being simple and quick than older people.
“We know that building stronger connections within communities helps people live healthier, more satisfying lives, and takes pressure off public services.”