Nearly half of Welsh people (48 per cent) think volunteering could improve their mental health according to a new survey from the British Heart Foundation.

A new survey of 1,000 people in Wales has highlighted that they believe volunteering could improve their mental health, boost confidence and reduce loneliness. It comes as the national charity has also seen a boom in younger volunteers since the pandemic ended.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), which has around 16,000 volunteers across its shops and stores, and supporting roles from home, has also revealed that over half of its new retail volunteer recruits this year are Gen Z.

The survey found that over nine in 10 (94 per cent) of Gen Z respondents nationally would consider volunteering, compared with just under three quarters (74 per cent) of Baby Boomers (people aged 59-77+) respondents.

Flexibility stood out as a key factor for Welsh respondents when it comes to volunteering, with 42 per cent of Welsh respondents saying they would be more likely to volunteer if flexible hours were offered, and over a quarter (27 per cent) would consider volunteering from home.

Further results showed that for over 30 per cent of Welsh respondents (32 per cent), the biggest barrier to volunteering in a charity shop was not having time to commit to it regularly. With flexible roles offered, and even the option to volunteer from home, it’s now much easier for anyone to get involved and try out volunteering at the BHF.

Harry McCaughey, a 17-year-old BHF volunteer, initially signed up to gain some work experience and develop his confidence in meeting and socialising with other people. He volunteers at his local shop on the weekends while he studies and loves the social atmosphere and the mix of people and ages in the team. After his A Levels, Harry hopes to go to university and have a career in dermatology.

Harry said: “I started volunteering to meet new people, and it’s been great to get to know people that I wouldn’t otherwise have met and hear advice from those that are older than me. I’d encourage younger people to volunteer, it’s a great way to expand your social circle and build confidence and responsibility at work.”

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru, said:

“Since the pandemic, it’s been great to see consistently high numbers of young people choose to try out volunteering. The flexibility we offer makes it ideal for those looking to gain work experience and build confidence before applying for jobs or heading to university.

“Our easy, flexible, and inclusive approach aims to make volunteering more accessible for all. We encourage everyone to bring their skills to the BHF, whether it’s for one day or one hundred. Whether you want to chat to customers on the shop floor, sort through donations in the stock room, style the mannequins in the window, stay active in the warehouse or research eBay items from home, we have the role for you.”

A recent volunteer photoshoot saw the charity use only real volunteers in their images, rather than models, marking a new direction the charity is taking to reflect the real diversity of their volunteers.