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Step Up to Serve celebrates a year of #iwill pledges for young volunteers

This week marks the first anniversary of the Step up to Serve campaign, which is committed to doubling the number of young people engaged in social action by 2020. NCVO has pledged its support to this initiative and will shortly be releasing a new guide for organisations interested in involving more young people in volunteering.

Step Up to Serve encourages businesses, organisations and individuals to make an #iwill pledge, aiming to embed social action into youth settings and increase access to relevant volunteering opportunities for young people across the UK. Progress is being measured by Ipsos MORI, who today released findings from the first year of the campaign. The findings reveal both the current extent of youth engagement and the challenges which lie ahead in meeting the ambitious goals which have been set.

The research found that 40% of young people volunteer regularly, with most getting involved through school or university. The research also found that the majority of young people want opportunities to volunteer with family and friends, rather than only online, and that taking part in meaningful social action leads to an increased sense of wellbeing.

Commenting on these findings, executive director of volunteering and development at NCVO, Justin Davis Smith, said:

‘This research demonstrates yet again that many young people are already active in their community and that their level of civic involvement compares very favourably with other age groups and with previous generations. Not for nothing has this generation been dubbed Generation Citizenship.

And yet the research also throws up some interesting challenges for the future. Contrary to popular belief this generation is not looking to live their lives completely on the web. Most young people expressed the desire to volunteer face to face with friends and family rather than online, which reinforces the point we have made consistently that the future of volunteering will require an investment in the institutions and individuals which create, broker and manage opportunities, particularly at the local level, such as Volunteer Centres.

Step up to Serve is unique among recent volunteering campaigns in that it has attracted support from all main political parties. As we approach the general election we will be looking for political parties to commit to finding the resources to ensure that the ambitious goals of the campaign are realised, so that every young person who wishes to volunteer will have the opportunity to do so.’

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