The survey shows that the majority of young people, 58%, participated in some form of social action in the last 12 months. However, only 39% of young people took part in meaningful social action, which means they see the benefits to themselves and others and participate regularly.
At Step Together, we know that positive engagement in the community improves social networks, relationships and well-being, as well as employability.
"Volunteering has given me peace of mind, a purpose. I feel needed, like I belong somewhere. Before I was volunteering, I felt a spare part and a massive lack of sense of achievement. My life came to a standstill. But now I feel really good. I know that when I leave the hostel, good things await."
Thomas - Client
The survey highlights a need to create more high-quality opportunities for young people to target those not yet engaging in meaningful social action. Our team is working with charity partners to develop bespoke volunteering placements for the clients we support. We strive to find placements that are supportive, challenging, interesting and meet their needs and aspirations.
Alarmingly, the report also shows that there is still a socio-economic gap in participation. Young people from less affluent backgrounds have the appetite to become involved, with over 58% saying they would like to take part in the future, but results show that they are currently missing out on the benefits. Whilst 51% of young people from affluent backgrounds are participating in meaningful social action, only 32% from less affluent backgrounds are.
At Step Together we offer one-to-one support for young people facing social exclusion. This may include problems in finding and maintaining employment and housing, problematic substance misuse, mental ill-health and a lack of positive role models and networks.
We have found that the young people we support don’t always know the options available to them and many of our clients feel that they have nothing to offer.
We support them for as long as is required, tackling both the psychological and practical barriers to participation, including a lack of confidence and low self-worth and concerns over formal recruitment and selection processes.
Our new strategy, refreshed this year, strengthens our commitment to prioritise people who are most excluded from society, further improve the support we offer and increase the extent our clients inform and drive what we do.
Volunteering and social action helps young people thrive. The survey results show that participating in social action brings a wealth of benefits and young people report higher life satisfaction and better chances for employment. Our own client feedback also shows that young people feel more confident, have increased self-worth and also feel more connected to their communities.
Step Together continues to support the #iWill campaign and is always reviewing ways we can reach more young people to help them engage in volunteering and build positive futures for themselves.
Watch Kieran's story.