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Four in five say volunteering boosts health

2 June 2014

New survey reveals that six in ten people say volunteering reduces stress

Volunteering boosts employability, self-esteem and health, according to a new report published today by Citizens Advice to mark Volunteers’ Week.

The new report ‘CAB volunteering – how everyone benefits [ 2.1 mb]’ also reveals that 6 in 10 people who give their time to the Citizens Advice service feel less stressed as a result.

The research also found volunteering can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer with mental health problems. Three-quarters of individuals identified with mental health issues said that “volunteering helped them feel more able to manage their condition.”

4 in 5 people believe volunteering has had a positive effect on their health.

Citizens Advice celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and in 2013/14 helped 2 million people to solve 5.5 million problems. As well as benefits for the individual volunteer, in 2012/13 22,000 volunteers donated nearly 7 million hours to the charity - amounting to a contribution of £109 million worth of volunteering hours.

The report also finds:

  • 9 in 10 people reported an increased sense of purpose or self-esteem
  • 4 in 5 believe that they have increased their employability
  • 9 in 10 feel more engaged in their community
  • 9 in 10 feel better equipped and empowered to deal with issues in their lives- with 4 in 5 also helping friends and family.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice, said:

“Volunteers are the life-blood of the Citizens Advice service.  Our volunteers make a huge contribution to their local communities and to society but these figures now reveal the benefits that volunteers can expect to see themselves.

“Along with staff, volunteers deliver a high-quality service for millions of people, many of whom are having a tough time struggling to make ends meet.People are still recovering from the economic crisis and dealing with changes to the welfare system and local services. It’s now more important than ever that everyone can access free and impartial advice.

“It is those who give up their time for free who enable us to offer this and we need the Government to recognise the importance of volunteering and develop a strategy to support it.”

The new report follows the launch last week of the charity’s new Advice for the Future campaign, calling on people to pledge their support for free and impartial advice.

Julia volunteered with the service, becoming an apprentice with Citizens Advice whilst also undertaking a qualification. Two years later Julia left the bureau after getting a job in the health sector:

“I suffered severely with depression; I was successful with a good job, house, car and my independence. Unfortunately, after a long period of illness I lost my self-esteem, I then volunteered at my local Citizens Advice Bureau. With help and guidance from staff, I started to rebuild my confidence and consequently, my life, whilst giving vital support to a much needed charity which provides a desperately needed service.

“I found opportunities varied, meeting and helping people from all walks of life. Volunteering helped me to turn my life around; I have seen many volunteers move on to employment helped by the experience gained from volunteering.”

Volunteers’ Week is an annual event celebrating the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. This year, it takes place from 1-7 June.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.