Young People & Volunteering: Attitudes and Experiences in Areas of Multiple Deprivation 2018 (Scotland)


Published: March 2018

Author: James Davies

Published by: Volunteer Scotland ( and University of Strathclyde (

This paper summarises key findings of a study in young people’s attitudes and experiences of formal volunteering in deprived areas of Scotland. This PhD study centres on focus groups with 58 participants aged 12-18 and interviews with volunteers, non-volunteers and youth workers.

Participants generally expressed favourable views towards volunteering but they felt that volunteering was a stigmatised activity among their peer group. Providing opportunities to volunteer or learn about volunteering may be an effective way to counter stigma.

Teachers and schools have been found to be among the most significant players in facilitating youth access to volunteering opportunities. In this study though participants felt family, friends, and youth workers played a larger role.

Social attachments and the desire to engage in leisure-oriented activities were shown to be strong motivators of youth volunteers. Findings show that the most powerful motive for volunteering was the desire to maintain attachments participants had developed over the course of their experience in youth organisations. Participants also frequently reported a deficit of things to do in their neighbourhood. In this context, volunteering was often motivated by a desire to engage in pleasurable activities.

When promoting volunteering to young people in deprived areas, emphasising social and leisure aspects may encourage more participation as well as employability. Benefits described by participants included social interaction and confidence. Barriers included resource issues, school failings, lack of information, spatial barriers, subjective barriers - getting ‘slagged’ and masculinity.

Key recommendations to widen access to volunteering opportunities include:

  • Improve access to information
  • Early engagement
  • Offering meaningful and accessible activities
  • Being sensitive to age and gender
  • Greater coordination with schools
  • Investing in youth organisations
  • Local engagement

The paper is available here.