A national survey, carried out by Demos in 5 locations across the UK between 2016 and 2017, elicited some very valuable information for those seeking to move into the world of paid employment.
Findings showed that those actively involved in volunteering in charity retail shops were gaining transferable skills and increased self-confidence, which were in turn assisting them in seeking and successfully acquiring paid work.
The survey covered 650 charity shop staff, including volunteers and managers. The overwhelming evidence showed the varied benefits that charity shops were having on volunteers’ employment opportunities, sense of well-being, and overall attitudes about working environments.
Despite mixed views about the presence of charity shops being found on the high street, with 72% of adults over 65 deeming it a sign of a high street’s decline, it seems that those who were a part of the team were genuinely benefiting from the experience, as well as contributing to the environment by saving councils millions from landfill costs, reducing carbon footprints, and even, according to the younger adults surveyed, being a trendy asset to a high street.
The analysed data gathered by Demos shows that both social benefits and opportunities were created for volunteers. Of the 192 volunteers questioned, two-thirds stated that the experience had improved their employment prospects and chances of being recruited.
Impressively, 73% attributed their increased self-esteem to their volunteering, whilst 75% stated they had gained more skills.
Over 90% expressed a great sense of satisfaction from the experience, believing that the volunteering was helping their communities and charities in general, with 95% of individuals enjoying volunteering at charities of their choice.
Of important note, of 484 managers questioned, 25% confirmed that most of their volunteers had moved into paid employment.
These findings appear to have revealed that volunteering is acting to not only serve our communities and benefit our environment, by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 6.9 million tonnes and reducing landfill costs by a phenomenal £27 million, but it is very much actively assisting those who volunteer to gain skills, confidence and motivation in their journey towards successful recruitment and paid employment.
With retail charity shops creating a revenue of £270 million per year, many paid jobs are created by their very existence and their importance in our economy cannot be taken lightly. Notably, 75% of shop managers surveyed expressed good levels of job satisfaction, with 20% expressing complete satisfaction.
With Brexit looming and consequently up to £200 million of EU funds being withdrawn from UK charities, the role of retail charity shops in our high streets appears to be playing a very important link in the chain of gaining skills, creating revenue, and providing opportunities for paid employment, both directly and through volunteering.
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