About 500,000 more people are using the services provided by charities on a weekly basis than was the case two years ago, according to research carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation.
The research, based on a Populus survey of 2,054 UK adults carried out in February, found that 3.7 million households used charitable services once a week, an increase of 500,000 on a similar survey carried out in 2014.
Researchers found that 98 per cent of households had used a charitable service at some point in the past, compared with 93 per cent in 2014.
Using a charity’s services is defined as interacting with anything a charity does, such as accessing medical support or financial advice, seeking help on a charity’s website or visiting a charity shop.
The research found that 83 per cent of households had used charity services in the past year, up from 79 per cent in 2014, and 53 per cent had used a charity service in the previous month, compared with 51 per cent in 2014.
Researchers discovered a large increase in the use of charity services by single-parent households, rising from 29 per cent in 2014 to 53 per cent this year. The research found that 31 per cent of single-parent households used these services on a weekly basis.
Charity shops were the most widely used service according to the survey, with 88 per cent of respondents reporting using charity shops in the past year.
Visiting a charity-run gallery, museum, house or gardens (73 per cent), attending a church or other religious institution (51 per cent), getting advice or information from a charity website (51 per cent), attending a university (48 per cent) or visiting a community, youth or voluntary group (47 per cent) were also found to be prominent ways in which the public depended on charities.
Researchers found that 18 to 24-year-olds were the most likely to use a charity’s services, with 88 per cent having done so in the past year.
In contrast, the research found that only 77 per cent of people aged between 35 and 44 had used a charitable service in the previous 12 months.
Women were found to be more likely to use charity services than men, with 86 per cent having done so in the previous year compared with 75 per cent of men.
John Low, chief executive of CAF, said the research highlighted "the valuable role charities play in our lives, both enhancing our free time and stepping in to offer crucial support that might otherwise be difficult to access".
He added: "Nearly every household in the UK has now used a charity at some point, which shows their vital and varied role in society. Every day, more people are walking into their local charity shops, encouraging their children and family members to get involved in community groups and visiting the beautiful galleries and gardens supported by charities in the UK."
The full report on the survey’s findings, called Charity Street 2, will be published by CAF in June.