Teenagers in England are contributing £300 million each year to the economy, through voluntary work and donations to charity, a report by the Evangelical Alliance has found.
The report Young People Matter, released today (Thursday), surveyed over seven hundred 14-18 year olds and found that 45 per cent of young people volunteer at least once a month and 80 per cent donate money to charity each month.
Young people who volunteer give on average 3.57 hours a month. When projected across England this is the equivalent of 33,000 full time workers and £210 million a year at the minimum wage. According to the report, young people also donate approximately £110 million to charity each year.
Almost 40 per cent of the voluntary work carried out by young people takes place through churches or religious organisations and 10 per cent of those who declared themselves non-religious still volunteer through a religious organisation.
The report also found that the more active the young person is as a Christian, the more likely they are to volunteer.
Nicole May, 17, from Manchester, serves on the panel of the Manchester City Council Youth Opportunity Fund which gives young people the chance to engage in positive activities.
As part of her role, Nicole helps set up grant criteria, reviews grant applications, trains new panel members and visits beneficiaries.
“My youth worker asked me if I wanted to volunteer and I decided I wanted to give something back to the community, rather than just sitting at home watching TV,” she said.
“I am a Christian, and my faith motivates me to volunteer. I am also from the Afro-Caribbean community, and since a lot of young black people get bad press, I wanted to highlight the positive things happening in the community and dispel some of the negative connotations.”
The Alliance’s General Director, Steve Clifford, said: “These results demonstrate what I have seen and known for years: that young people, contrary to the stereotypes, make a massive positive difference in our communities. Far too often they are branded as hoodies or gang members when the real statistics tell a very different story.
“I hope this acknowledgement of how many 14-18 year olds are motivated to volunteer by their faith will mean that schools and Government will work with faith groups to encourage this selfless giving.”
The most common reasons for volunteering were wanting to help people (53 per cent) and wanting to contribute something to society (43 per cent). The most common factors hindering volunteering were lack of time (54 per cent) and too much school work (52 per cent). Forty one percent said that gaining a recognised qualification would encourage them to volunteer.