To mark Student Volunteering Week, a new study by national disability charity Revitalise has discovered that student volunteers are leading the way when it comes to improving themselves – and society.
The bulk of Revitalise's army of volunteers is made up of students. Of the 688 volunteers who completed questionnaires for the charity in 2014, 522 (76%) were students. A study of these revealed the numerous personal and social benefits of volunteering.
In an increasingly diverse society, the personal benefits of volunteering were very clear. 97% of the student respondents said that volunteering for Revitalise had made them more aware of diversity issues and 94% said it had made them tolerant towards others.
Self-development was by far the greatest motivation for the students to volunteer, cited as the primary reason by over half the respondents (56%). In this respect the volunteering experience was overwhelmingly successful, with 94% reporting that it had improved their self-confidence.
And when it comes to improving society, the motivational effect of volunteering was also very clear: nearly nine out of ten (88%) of the student volunteers surveyed said that volunteering had inspired them to play a more active part in their home communities.
Revitalise runs the largest residential volunteer programme of any UK charity. Each year the charity's army of volunteers give a total of over 4,000 weeks of their time in order to live and work at the charity's three UK respite holiday centres for disabled people and carers.
The volunteers are integral to Revitalise's mission to enhance the lives of disabled people and carers by providing vital opportunities for social interaction. The volunteers enable the centres' guests to take full advantage of the inclusive social activities and excursions provided by Revitalise.
Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:
“This current generation of young people is so often demonised by society, but the young volunteers who come through our doors are a credit to their generation and have a thing or two to teach the rest of us when it comes to making the world a better place.
“Students are benefitting in a wide variety of ways from their volunteering experience with us and it's very gratifying to see that not only do they become more optimistic about their own futures, but they are also inspired to play a role in improving society too.
“The importance of volunteering in boosting one's career prospects is well known and it's clear from our study that today's students are really going the extra mile to increase their employability.
“Revitalise is over 50 years old and we owe our very existence to the inspirational efforts of our founding volunteers all those years ago, so in that same spirit I hope this survey will inspire many more young people to try their hand at volunteering and take advantage of the many life-enhancing benefits it provides.”
Revitalise is a national charity providing respite holidays for disabled people and carers at three accessible centres in Chigwell in Essex, Southampton and Southport, with 24-hour nursing care on-call, personal support and a range of accessible excursions, activities and entertainment.