Younger women the most likely volunteers, research finds

Two-thirds of young people have thought about volunteering but only one in 50 actually does, according to a survey by Samaritans.

The charity’s 24:7 Time for You online survey assessed the “spare-time habits” of more than 2,000 working people in the UK and Ireland. It showed that women are more likely to volunteer than men and that people are less keen to volunteer after the age of 44. A regional analysis showed that people in the Republic of Ireland are more likely to volunteer than anywhere in the UK.

Spare time

The research showed that 95 per cent of people have between one and eight hours of free time daily. One third of people would give up two hours a week to volunteer, 23 per cent would give up four hours a week, and 16.5 per cent would give up six hours or more. But 28.2 per cent of respondents said they would not give up any time to volunteer.

Age

Many young people had thought about volunteering, but few had acted on it: 65.4 per cent of 16-24 year olds have thought about helping their community in their spare time, but only two per cent actually turn out and volunteer, the research found.

Desire to volunteer appeared to decline after the age of 44. A total of 32.7 per cent of 16-24- year-olds said they would give up two hours per week to volunteer, compared to 35.2 per cent of 25-34-year-olds and 34.3 per cent of 35-44-year-olds. But the figures fell to 29.4 per cent among 45-54-year-olds, and 25.6 per cent of people aged 55 and over.

Gender

Women seemed more inclined to volunteer than men. Thirty-seven said they would give up two hours per week to volunteer, compared with 24.5 per cent of men, and more men (36.4 per cent) than women (23.1 per cent) said they would not give up time to volunteer.

Geography

In the Republic of Ireland, 37.5 per cent of people would give up four hours per week to volunteer – the highest proportion in any region. Only 18 per cent of people in the midlands would give up four hours per week to volunteer – the lowest proportion in any region.

Meanwhile, only 7.9 per cent of people in the Republic of Ireland said they would not give up any time to volunteer – the lowest proportion in any region. This compared to 35.1 per cent in the North East – the highest proportion in any region.

Rachel Bayley, volunteering manager at Samaritans, said: “Volunteering can be a life-changing gateway to new perspectives – our volunteers have met new people, built strong friendships, mastered new skills, changed jobs, become public speakers, returned to education, and found the confidence to try new things.”

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