Average Briton gives up 13 months of their life to help others, new poll finds

Three quarters of people surveyed feel more appreciative of key workers while over half have been inspired by acts of kindness seen online 

Astrid Hall
Tuesday 08 September 2020 10:46
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The poll found more than a third (36 per cent) buy items for the food bank in their local community
The poll found more than a third (36 per cent) buy items for the food bank in their local community

Selfless Brits will each give up nearly 10,000 hours of their time to help others — the equivalent of more than 13 months — over the course of their lifetime.

A study of 2,000 adults found they donate an average of three hours of their time every week to do things for others, from shopping for a neighbour to litter-picking at the local playground.

More than a third (36 per cent) buy items for a food bank in their community, while three in 10 spend time with the elderly or people who feel lonely.

It also emerged the average adult does 16 things a month to help others, with raising money for charity and helping out at the local school also among some of the ways they spend their time.

The study, commissioned by British Gas, also found 55 per cent of Brits have given up more of their time for others than usual in the last few months, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

And of those, nearly two-thirds plan to keep doing so even when life returns to normal.

Simon Evans is one of more than 1,700 British Gas engineers who’ve volunteered for food banks across the country since March, delivering over 2,000 tonnes of food to those in need as part of the energy and home services provider’s partnership with the Trussell Trust.

Mr Evans said: “The pandemic has had an enormous impact on all of our lives and having lost two members of my own family to Covid-19, I know just how devastating this virus can be.

“It’s been amazing to see people from all walks of life change their attitudes towards volunteering, as people have put their own needs aside to help others, in lockdown and beyond.

“Along with many of my colleagues, I’ve been hugely privileged to offer the Trussell Trust my support, and it’s given me a real purpose during the crisis.

"I’m so proud that we’ve delivered the equivalent of four million meals to those in need.

“I’ve built some great relationships with people at the food banks and I’m keen to continue with my volunteering work in the future.”

The research also found that half of all those polled said they have been touched by the kindness of others in recent months, having experienced it first-hand.

And 63 per cent have been inspired by the acts of kindness they’ve read about online or in the media.

A quarter of those who have given up their time during the pandemic admitted it has made them feel humbled, while 27 per cent said it has put a smile on their face.

Almost three quarters (74 per cent) also feel more appreciative of the many key workers who they previously took for granted.

The study, conducted via Onepoll, found that when it comes to volunteering for a good cause, 25 per cent of Brits could see themselves doing work in the community such as working in a charity shop.

A further 15 per cent imagine working at a homeless shelter, 25 per cent envisage themselves working at a food bank, and 12 per cent would enjoy helping others through a charity phone line.

But even though nearly nine in 10 say they generally go out of their way to help others, 41 per cent wish they did more.

More than two-fifths think they would be able to give up more of their time if they weren’t so busy with other commitments, and 31 per cent simply don’t know what to do or how to kick start the process.

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