"Lack of volunteering in urban & deprived neighbourhoods"

An article from 'The Herald' Newspaper 

"Young men fear 'being slagged' for taking part in 'feminine' volunteering", report finds

A study funded by Strathclyde University and Volunteer Scotland which aimed to shed light on out why fewer people in urban and deprived neighbourhoods take up volunteering roles.

The research concentrated on the views of young people in 16 deprived urban areas of Glasgow, because people who start volunteering young often go on to volunteer as adults.

But one young man told research James Davies that volunteering was seen as something girls did, adding: "none of the boys are really interested [in volunteering], so you're an idiot because you're the guy with the lassies by yersel' ... it doesnae appeal'."

The report says: "There was a widespread feeling that, among their peer groups, volunteering was a stigmatised activity. One participant felt volunteering was often described as 'boring' or 'unenjoyable', while another felt it was the type of activity individual would 'get slagged' for doing."

It says such factors amounted to "informal penalties" which put people off volunteering. Of those - boys and girls - who did become involved in community groups, charities or other voluntary work, many gave up in their teenage years. However roles involving sports, particularly football, carried less stigma among boys, the study found.

Other barriers to participation included a lack of information or a shortage of youth workers, and a reluctance to take up opportunities in other parts of the city – because of fears of conflict between residents of rival schemes and the presence of gangs.

Some young people said they were in the habit of staying at home because of a lack of attractive activities in the area where they lived, or out of fear that the police might view them as suspect, or that they might be accused of anti-social behaviour.

One youth worker interviewed for the study said young people in her area viewed volunteering as "something other people do."

The report, published yesterday as part of the Stirling Festival of Volunteering, found that many of the barriers were notional or perceived, rather than real, and interviewees in 16 deprived urban areas of Glasgow were not negative about volunteering themselves. More information here 


Young people already taking part in volunteering said they got a lot out of it, with many speaking positively about value of socialising with other young people, a sense of belonging and the sense of doing something worthwhile. The report found most were not motivated by self-interested reasons such as employability and strengthening their CVs.

The Scottish Government aims to reinvigorate volunteering, particularly among young people, and make it more inclusive, but across Scotland females are more likely to volunteer for all roles than males, and fewer than 20 per cent of people volunteer in most deprived areas.

Speaking at the Festival of Volunteering, report author James Davies, said more could be done to overcome stigmatising notions of what volunteer work entails and called for efforts to be made to get children in deprived areas engaged with youth organisations early, be sensitive to the pressures of teenage years when many give up clubs and groups, and to encourage more coordination with schools.

Mr Davies also said many young people in Glasgow's poorer areas knew little about what kind of activities were available. Many had never spoken about volunteering until they met researchers, he said. adding: "Without early exposure to volunteer-involving environments, young people in deprived areas were disadvantaged."