Young volunteers believe giving up their time is a win-win situation

Young people who volunteer are in no doubt that their altruism is highly beneficial both to the people they help and themselves, according to a report from The National Youth Agency.

Young People’s Volunteering and Skills Development, which was released to coincide with the end of Volunteering week this week, found that young people had great confidence in the impact of their actions – and confirmed an increase in levels of identity and self-worth as well as improved teamwork and leadership skills.

“What surprised us was how clear young people were about it being their volunteering that made the difference,” said Dave Phillips, co-ordinator of the National Youth Agency’s Youth Action work. One young volunteer said: “Most of the things I now use everyday have come from, or been developed and improved by volunteering.”

The report was written following interviews with 215 young volunteers from 30 different volunteer projects between December 2006 and March 2007.

The results paint a different picture to research launched early this week, which based on a survey of a cross section of young people, including those who did not volunteer. The report by volunteering charity v found that half of young people questioned didn’t think they had time to volunteer or didn’t know how to get involved, and 23 percent thought they had nothing to offer.

Terry Ryall, chief executive for v, said she thought accreditation might encourage more young people to volunteer. “If young people find opportunities that aren’t accredited, they don’t engage,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is to embrace something young people want to get involved with, and not make it formalised.”

Pete Lowenstein, senior development officer for the National Youth Agency, agrees. “The research showed that many young volunteers think that the recognition and accreditation of their volunteering achievements is critical to their future work and training prospects,” he said.

Also this Volunteers’ Week, Investing in Volunteers’ Achievers Club welcomed a record 58 organisations, all of which will generate volunteers themselves in addition to benefiting the community.

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