Royal Voluntary Service is urgently calling for Gen Z adults to take on volunteering roles in their communities as many long-standing, older volunteers retire following COVID-19.
With pressure remaining on the NHS and vulnerable communities, the charity is asking younger recruits – many of whom volunteered during the pandemic - to continue their volunteering habit for the long-term or make their debut to boost ranks.
According to the charity, younger people have much to gain from volunteering and it can be a powerful antidote to the lost experiences and personal struggles faced during the COVID crisis. In a new survey among 18-24-year-olds, 47% of ‘zoomers’ say the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.
Those who were impacted by ‘lost’ experiences (93%), report increased stress levels (48%), loss of social skills (43%), a drop in confidence levels (37%) and a lack of work-ready skills (34%). Volunteering is proven to offer valuable support in all these areas.
Gen Z also missed many ‘rites of passage’, 18% lost out on their first year at university and 15% missed their school prom. A third (29%) missed out on gaining work experience.
Those that volunteered during the pandemic – and many (48%) did so – would have found it useful to detail in interview situations. Being asked how they spent their time during the pandemic is now a common interview question – 33% said they were directly asked whether they had volunteered in a job interview and 30% in a university or college course interview.
Young people reported further benefits. Almost a third (31%) said volunteering helped their confidence, 35% said they learnt new skills and 27% said volunteering has provided them with a sense of purpose.
Additional research revealed that 81% of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers active during the pandemic reported an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing.
Additional research revealed that, through donating their time, 81% pandemic volunteers reported an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing*.
Aruni Kangeyan, 21 from Stoke Madeville, signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder because she wanted to support the NHS.
“Volunteering has helped boost my self-confidence and communication skills by allowing me to engage with a variety of people. I also love how volunteering improves my wellbeing and allows me to be part of a community. Volunteering helps to de-stress which is important for those in school or university, giving time for yourself and others in a non- taxing way is fulfilling”
More volunteers like Aruni are urgently needed to help the thousands of isolated or vulnerable people still relying on the generosity of volunteers for basic needs like grocery shopping, transport and companionship. To get the country vaccinated, 1,400 NHS Volunteer Responder Steward Volunteers are also required daily to support the booster phase.
“Unfortunately – but entirely understandably - some of our long-standing volunteers are looking to take a break or retire post-pandemic. This is not unique to Royal Voluntary Service. We are now calling on the next generation of volunteers to step forward. Together we can offer vital support to the NHS and this country’s most vulnerable people, ahead of what will be a difficult winter. Any time you can offer will go a long way not only to improve the health and wellbeing of your community, but also to boost your own confidence, mental health and life experience.”
Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service
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