The voluntary sector could be losing out on more that 15.4 million hours of youth volunteering time a month because young people lack opportunities to do it, according to research commissioned by the Scout Association.
The poll of 1,000 young people in the UK between the ages of 12 and 24, carried out by the research company ComRes, found that 82 per cent of young people – eight million – said they believed it was important for them and their peers to help tackle social issues.
But according to the research, the results of which have been published today to mark the launch of the Scout Association’s Million Hands volunteering recruitment campaign, only 35 per cent said they felt they had the opportunity to do so and 37 per cent were volunteering at least once a week.
Based on the number of hours young people who were not volunteering said they would be prepared to contribute, the UK could benefit from an additional 15.4 millon hours each month, the association said.
The aim of the Million Hands campaign is to get half a million existing scouts and new recruits volunteering to help causes young scouts said they saw as key priorities: helping those affected by dementia or disability, improving the mental wellbeing and resilience of families, and ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation.
Potential volunteers are being asked give their time to charities chosen by scouts themselves, including Mind, the Alzheimer’s Society, WaterAid, Guide Dogs, the Canal & River Trust and Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Hannah Kentish, youth commissioner of the Scout Association, said: "It’s fantastic to be joining forces with some of the UK’s biggest charities today and to be creating positive social change on a huge scale.
"I am so proud of the good things that scouts do in local communities up and down the country and am really excited to see what we’ll be able to achieve when we focus that passion and energy on the big generational issues of our time – moving from 'useful' to 'life-changing'."
Jack Abrey, chair of the association’s Community Impact Group, which is leading the campaign, said it also offered the opportunity to change "the wholly unfair negative perception of young people".