Don’t tell us under-25s we’re stingy. Paying our way is hard enough as it is

It's a bit rich to label my generation selfish because we lack disposable income

Share

We under 25-year-olds get a bit of a crap deal. Our university fees are expensive, and if we’re lucky enough to find a job, we’ll spend our meagre salaries on exorbitant rent. There might be a few pennies left over to buy a round at the pub after work, convinced if we do we’ll fool everyone into thinking we’re grown up. Some of us become interns and work long hours for little pay with no guarantee of a job at the end. But, full of the excitement of youth, we accept our lot and crack on.

So it was pretty galling to discover that, according to an article published in the Daily Mail on Wednesday, my age group are “uncharitable, selfish and cynical” with recent research conducted by neuroscientists at Mindlab showing that nearly half of the under-25s interviewed for the study had never donated to charity. 

The average salary for UK graduates in full-time employment six months after graduation ranges from £18,000 to £24,000. They’re the lucky ones. Recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions showed that 1.09 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 were not in work, education or training – 410,000 of them are claiming jobseeker’s allowance and 380,000 receive housing benefit.

Given the hours we’re working for free, the extortionate fees we’re paying off, and the rent and bills we’re forking out for, it strikes me a bit rich to label my age group selfish simply because we don’t have the disposable income to give to good causes.

Last week, I received a phone call from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, some 10 months after we adopted a cat from the shelter. Charmingly, the man on the phone wanted to know how Mimi was settling in, reminding us to take care of her during the fireworks and telling us to encourage others to rehome from Battersea. Finally, he explained how overcrowded the home gets over Christmas and asked us to donate £5 a week to help them through their busiest time of year.

It was with a heavy heart I explained that at my age, on my wage, I couldn’t commit to weekly charitable payments. I just don’t have the funds. I’m still learning to juggle council tax, electricity bills and excessive travel costs; stretching my graduate salary to breaking point in a desperate attempt to save what I can so that one day I might be able to clamber on to the property ladder. And I’d already given one of their cats a loving home.

The study also found that under-25s were the most sceptical about donating to charity, with 67 per cent claiming they didn’t think donations made any real difference. I can’t help but feel young people’s disenchantment with the current political situation has marred the way they view more virtuous organisations. (What’s the point in voting? What’s the point in giving to charity?)

It follows then that people prefer to give to charity if they know where their donations go, a theory backed up by the study, with a third of Londoners saying they give to charity but like to know how their money will be used. A survey conducted by the Small Charity Directory in 2010 showed that on average, only around 80p from every pound donated to charity goes towards the charity’s cause.

As a 22-year-old living in London on a graduate wage, I say this: Charity isn’t about who can write out the biggest cheque; although large donations are, of course, gratefully received. Under-25s don’t have cash to flash, so we have to get creative and be charitable in other ways.

Me, I always drop a couple of quid into the paper cups proffered by the homeless on the crowded Tube or on a desolate street corner. I like to think they spend it on a bed for the night, but if they choose to buy alcohol or drugs, that’s fine too. Whatever helps get someone through a cold night on a pavement.

Others grow ridiculous moustaches, or cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats, or bake enough cakes to feed the 5,000, or adopt cats, or run the London Marathon, or raise awareness on Twitter, or work in charity shops, or carry someone’s shopping across the road, or help out at the Brownies, or give blood, or donate clothes, or volunteer at a food bank, or set up a Facebook group imploring people to donate money, food and clothing to the Philippines.

Labelling a group selfish because they don’t give money to charity flies in the face of what philanthropy ought to be about. No one should feel compelled or pressured into making donations. Money bullied off those who can’t afford it is not charity.

We might not be able to send £20 a month to Cancer Research but, on behalf of my peers, I ask that before you brand us “uncharitable” you remember that giving comes in many guises.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality

Farhana Khan
 

Daniel Craig needs to get over himself – there's a reason 007 isn't a right-on geography teacher

Jane Merrick
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests