YOUNG PEOPLE in Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Plymouth are leading the way when it comes to donating their time to charity.

Generation Z is the most generous with their time, followed closely by Millennials, according to research commissioned by Oxfam which relies on volunteers to work in its shops across the UK. The charity hopes to recruit more volunteers in the run up to Christmas.

Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents up to the age of 25 said they have volunteered for charity in some way. In comparison, 55 per cent of Millennial respondents, 39 per cent of Gen X respondents and 28 per cent of Baby Boomer respondents reported that they have volunteered.

After surveying 2,000 people across the country, Oxfam’s research reveals we are a generous nation – with more than two in five (42 per cent) respondents reporting they have volunteered their time to charity in some way. Of this number, a quarter (25 per cent) have volunteered in a charity shop.

The average amount of hours which people volunteer within the top cities, per year, is: Belfast (216 hours), Edinburgh (285 hours), Glasgow (279 hours) and Plymouth (288 hours).

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first UK Oxfam shop opening in 1947 in Broad Street, Oxford, believed to be one of the first charity shops in the world. There are now over 500 Oxfam shops operating across the UK, supported by generous volunteers.

After asking respondents of all ages what they enjoy most about volunteering, the results showed that well over two thirds (70 per cent) gave up their time in exchange for friendship, social interaction, and to tackle feelings of loneliness. Over two in five volunteers also said giving up their time to a charity can help to: keep them active (22 per cent); and help with mental health and wellbeing (21 per cent).

Other top responses cited include: “it allows me to support a charity I’m passionate about (28 per cent), “I like to make a difference in my local community” (28 per cent) and “for a sense of purpose” (27 per cent).

But while the survey has shone a bright light on the generosity and community spirit of people and cities across the UK, it also exposed the cost-of-living crisis as a potential threat to this.

When asked about barriers to volunteering, more than two in five (44 per cent) of respondents said the cost-of-living crisis could impact their ‘ability’ and ‘willingness’ to volunteer with a charity.

In response to these findings, Lorna Fallon, Director of Retail at Oxfam, said: “From our research, it’s promising to see that so many people have given up their time to support charities through volunteering and that, for many people, this has brought friendships, a sense of purpose, and a positive impact on their health and wellness.

“At Oxfam, volunteers are at the heart of our movement to end poverty around the world, and we rely on them to keep our UK shops thriving. In the lead up to our busiest time of year, Christmas, we encourage people across the country to consider a volunteer role with us, where they can help to make a real difference and fight poverty globally in the process.”

Dr Carolyn Mair, Behavioural Psychologist, said: “Looking at Oxfam’s recent research findings, it’s fantastic to learn that so many people report how they have enjoyed the time they have spent volunteering, and that they have seen personal benefits too. These outcomes are supported by evidence which finds that volunteering is [a] powerful way to boost wellbeing.

“Volunteering helps us learn new skills, gain valuable experience, expand our social network, and achieve personal goals. By playing an active role in our society and contributing to positive change, volunteering enables us to join a new community of friends and colleagues which increases our sense of belonging and purpose.

“When we volunteer, we are helping others and actively contributing to something bigger than we are. We experience a greater sense of belonging which increases our self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, happiness, and satisfaction with life, while also boosting our mental and physical health.”

* More information on volunteering with Oxfam here or visit your local Oxfam shop.

* Source: Oxfam UK