From education to employment

Student Volunteers Needed Now More Than Ever

students learning together

New research from Bookmark Reading Charity finds 16-24s are almost three times as likely to say that they’d like to volunteer for a charity than over 55s.

Bookmark Reading Charity shares findings from its recent survey* which found that 16-24 year olds are most likely to say they’d like to volunteer with a charity compared to all other age groups.

Bookmark is calling for students to help tackle the growing number of children leaving primary school unable to read well (more than one in four), which can have a significant impact on life prospects and has even been linked to life expectancy.

Emily Jack, CEO of Bookmark Reading Charity said:

“Our student volunteers and reading mentors make a huge difference to the lives of the children they work with. Fitting in a 30-minute session during the day online around study works well and offers skill development that our students say helps with demonstrating their experience for further study and job opportunities.”

Maya, a former student who has continued to volunteer with Bookmark outside of her role as a Senior Research Analyst said:

“Volunteering is not a massive commitment, particularly at Bookmark. It’s such an easy thing to work around what you’re already doing and the fact that it’s virtual makes it an even easier commitment. Bookmark has had a massive impact on me. To have that social interaction outside of my household and to see the children who were happy to be there was so rewarding. I love the interaction with the children and sharing the fun of reading with them.”

Amy, an English Literature student said:

“I started a programme with a child who told me they hated reading only to hear three weeks later that they had started reading at home and reading had changed their life. It was really lovely to hear him say ‘you’ve made me want to read these books I never thought I would before’.

“I’m an English Literature student now but I really struggled with reading when I was younger. I remember how frustrating it was feeling like I couldn’t fit in and I didn’t know what I was doing. Going from that base level of not being able to read, to now studying books at university, I’ve seen how far reading support can get you, and I’ve found that volunteering with Bookmark is a great way to give back.”

“Bookmark has had a huge impact career-wise because I was dead-set that I wanted to work with teenagers and then, through this, I’ve realised how much I love working with younger children and it’s changed that direction for me.”

The charity has just launched its Reading Mentors volunteer programme for 16 and 17 year-olds in sixth forms and colleges to volunteer, alongside its growing number of students who deliver 30-minute reading sessions either in person or online after going through its volunteer recruitment process.

Bookmark delivered more than 40,000 sessions in 2023, with students finding the sessions easy to fit in around lectures and other commitments.

You can find out more about Volunteering at Bookmark here

Read more about Bookmark’s Reading Mentors scheme for 16-17 year olds here

Key findings from the survey:

  • 16% of 16-24s and 20% of 25-34s currently volunteer with a charity compared to 15% of 35-44s, 12% of 45-54s and 12% of those aged over 55.
  • 31% of 16-24s who don’t currently volunteer said they would like to volunteer for a charity compared to 23% of 25-34s, 25% of 35-44s, 21% of 45-54s and 11% of those aged over 55.

*The survey was a nationally representative sample size of 2,002 UK adults (aged 16+) across the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 July and 14 July 2023. The survey was carried out by Censuswide.

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