More than half of young Scots carry out volunteering work - higher than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Young people in Scotland volunteer more than their English, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts, a major new study has found.
Researchers found that 52% of Scots reported taking part in activities and causes that benefit others compared to 48% in Wales, 42% in England and just 18% in Northern Ireland.
The #iwill campaign carried out the investigation to create a clearer picture of youth volunteering among 10-20 year olds to mark Student Volunteering Week, which runs until 26 February.
#iwill is a UK wide initiative which aims to celebrate the wealth of volunteering, fundraising, campaigning, mentoring and other activity that young people carry out.
As well as discovering Scots are the most generous with their time, researchers from Ipsos Mori confirmed the benefits to young people of taking part in volunteering.
Across the UK, those who carry out some form of social action have significantly higher life-satisfaction than those who don’t.
Involvement was also shown to support confidence in gaining employment. The proportion of young people who felt it would help them to do so, rises steadily with the frequency of participation - 88% of those involved in volunteering once a month thought it would help them find work in future.
Natasha Lawton, 19, from East Dunbartonshire, is an #iwill ambassador who says it has changed her life.
“I used to struggle at school because of my dyslexia, but since I’ve started volunteering my whole life has changed,” she said.
“First I started helping out my kayak coach at the Glasgow Kayak Club. I really wanted to paddle competitively that year but because of a shoulder injury I wasn’t able to. Instead my coach invited me to start coaching and now my self-confidence has shot up!”
Youth organisations in Scotland have hailed the result but urged those working with young volunteers not to get to self-congratulatory and continue to work to ensure there are enough opportunities to match young people’s appetite.
Jim Sweeney, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, said: “Young people are the bedrock of our future and it’s good to see so many are getting involved in their communities,” he said.
“We can’t be complacent and there is so much more we can do to ensure young people have the support they need to get involved and make a difference.”
Louise Macdonald, chief executive of national youth information and citizenship charity Young Scot, added: “Young Scots are making a huge difference in their local communities.
“The benefits of getting involved in a cause or group you believe are clear. It’s wonderful to hear that young Scot’s are leading the way for the rest of us.”
The findings closely follow research by Volunteer Scotland that found 52% of young people (aged 11-18) had volunteered in the last year.
The Volunteer Scotland research found youth volunteering is much more inclusive than was expected with the proportion of young people who volunteer in school time in the most deprived areas the same as the least deprived areas (both 33%).
Volunteering by young people with a physical or mental health condition (61%) was also greater than young people generally.
Charlotte Hill, chief executive of Step Up To Serve, which coordinates the #iwill campaign, added: “Young people want to know they can make a difference – do something to improve the world and their communities.
“That is why this new research is fantastic - confirming that social action supports young people to develop skills, improve their well-being and build links with others.”