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Volunteers  - Volunteers

Generation Z 'more likely to have volunteered' than other age groups

Research published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) contradicts a government survey by finding that people aged between 16 and 24 volunteer the most.

People aged between 16 and 24, known as Generation Z, are more likely to have volunteered for charities than any other age group, according to new research published by the British Heart Foundation.

The research, based on a survey of 2,001 UK adults, showed that 46% of Generation Z had volunteered in the past, with 24% saying they were currently involved in volunteering. By comparison, a third of everyone over the age of 55 had not volunteered at all and ruled out ever volunteering in the future. Only one-in-eight Millennials, roughly those aged between 25 and 34, were of the same opinion, that they would never volunteer, the research found.

The results contradict the government’s Community Life Survey, which found that 25 to 34-year-olds were the least likely to volunteer and 65 to 74-year-olds the most likely. More than half, 53%, of all respondents said they would be interested in future volunteering opportunities, the BHF found. The charity’s research found that 42% volunteered to give something back to the community, while 41% wanted to "make a difference".

The results show that people over 55 and women were more likely to want to give back to their community than younger age groups and men. Many younger people see volunteering as a "stepping stone for future career prospects", particularly given the high rates of youth unemployment in the country, the report says.

A third of all volunteers said they saw volunteering as a way of gaining new skills and experience, the research found, with this especially prevalent among 16 to 24-year-olds and volunteers living in London. A third of all volunteers did so in order to meet new people, the research found, with 60% of London-based volunteers saying it helped them to overcome loneliness. Seven in 10 volunteers said volunteering had had a positive impact on their mental health.

"The survey results reveal an interesting split between age groups, demonstrating a greater likelihood for older people to consider volunteering for altruistic motives, while younger people are more likely to think about what they can learn from it and how this could help them gain experience," the report says. "This reinforces the importance of tailoring volunteering opportunities to different age groups and highlighting the broad spectrum of benefits available to those who donate their time."

The top four barriers to volunteering were identified in the survey as work commitments, family commitments, a lack of flexible hours on offer and being unable to find appropriate opportunities. 9% of those surveyed did not know where to find out about volunteering.

The top five things that would encourage people to volunteer, according to the report, were flexible hours, interesting roles, the opportunity to learn new skills, meeting new people and access to training.

Linda Fenn, head of volunteering at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Volunteering has a reputation problem that we urgently need to address. Far too many people assume that it’s just for older people and that it might not benefit them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our report has shown that young people have so much to gain from getting involved, helping them to learn new things, improve their health and wellbeing, and make life-long friends."

Read: Third Sector -  Generation Z 'more likely to have volunteered' than other age groups