Step Up To Serve

Name: Step Up To Serve
Category: Social
Location: London
Project summary: Step Up To Serve is a small charity coordinating the #iwill campaign. The #iwill campaign is led by over 600 cross-sector partners and aims to make participation in youth social action the norm for young people aged 10-20 across the UK. Youth social action includes activities young people do to help others or the environment, such as volunteering, campaigning, fundraising and mentoring.

The #iwill campaign has an overarching goal: to increase the number of 10-20 year olds taking part in meaningful social action to 60% by the year 2020, which means supporting at least 1.5 million more young people to become involved. ‘Meaningful’ social action is more than just a one-off activity in which the young person recognises the benefit to themselves and to others.

The #iwill campaign’s National Survey of Youth Social Action, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, tracks progress against this goal, showing that 42% of 10-20 year olds in the UK took part in meaningful social action in 2015. This cross-sectional survey also helps us track our progress against our three sub-goals:
  • Inclusion: participation should be evenly spread across the UK, with equal participation across demographics.
  • Quality: the opportunities in which young people take part should offer a double benefit – so the young person has a positive impact while also developing their own character and skills.
  • Commitment: social action should be repeated more than once or be a one-off activity lasting longer than a day, and the young person should be able to identify specific actions they took to achieve their goal.
We want to understand more about youth social action to help us achieve our ambitious goal, so we’re looking for students interested in conducting research in this area. We’re interested in dissertation subjects that involve qualitative or quantitative research, or both. If you would like to work on a dissertation that deals with youth social action, please get in touch.
Detailed summary: Step Up To Serve is a small charity coordinating the #iwill campaign. The #iwill campaign is led by over 600 cross-sector partners and aims to make participation in youth social action the norm for young people aged 10-20 across the UK. Youth social action includes activities young people do to help others or the environment, such as volunteering, campaigning, fundraising and mentoring.

The #iwill campaign has an overarching goal: to increase the number of 10-20 year olds taking part in meaningful social action to 60% by the year 2020, which means supporting at least 1.5 million more young people to become involved. ‘Meaningful’ social action is more than just a one-off activity in which the young person recognises the benefit to themselves and to others.

The #iwill campaign’s National Survey of Youth Social Action, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, tracks progress against this goal, showing that 42% of 10-20 year olds in the UK took part in meaningful social action in 2015. This cross-sectional survey also helps us track our progress against our three sub-goals:
  • Inclusion: participation should be evenly spread across the UK, with equal participation across demographics.
  • Quality: the opportunities in which young people take part should offer a double benefit – so the young person has a positive impact while also developing their own character and skills.
  • Commitment: social action should be repeated more than once or be a one-off activity lasting longer than a day, and the young person should be able to identify specific actions they took to achieve their goal.
We want to understand more about youth social action to help us achieve our ambitious goal, so we’re looking for students interested in conducting research in this area. We’re interested in dissertation subjects that involve qualitative or quantitative research, or both.

If you would like to work on a dissertation that deals with youth social action, please get in touch.

If you are looking for a specific focus, we are particularly interested in the following projects:

CASE STUDIES
We are interested in case studies of:
  • Schools with a high percentage of students on free school meals, and/or in areas of multiple deprivation, which have embedded youth social action. This will help us to understand how to make social action more inclusive.
  • The impact of youth social action on the beneficiaries (individuals and/or a community). There is less research exploring the impact of youth social action on the beneficiaries than there is on the impact to the young person participating, and this will help to bridge the gap in evidence in this area.
  • Primary schools which have embedded youth social action. What are the benefits to the students? This will help us to understand children’s participation and what support is required for children aged 10 and below to participate in social action.
  • Under-16s and their involvement in social action: what helps and hinders their participation?


SECONDARY ANALYSIS OF SURVEY DATA
We welcome students who would like to conduct further analysis of data from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 National Surveys of Youth Social Action (2014 and 2015 data currently available on UKDS). Using the 2015 data, we created a typology of young people based on past, current and predicted future participation in social action:
  • Committed (35% of respondents): participated previously, currently participate and intend to continue participating.
  • Potential (50% of respondents): interested or uncertain about doing social action in the future.
  • Reluctant (15% of respondents): reluctant to engage in social action.
We are interested in the following analyses:
  • What are the profiles of the three types of young people (committed, potential and reluctant) we identified from the 2015 survey? What are their defining characteristics (such as age) and what might be encouraging or discouraging them from participating in social action? For example, what can a regression analysis of each of these groups tell us if we control for the effects of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, disability, gender? We are also particularly interested in further analysis of these data for 10-15 year olds.
  • What insights can we gather from looking at the results by gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity and disability? For example, are the routes into participation different for different groups of young people?
  • Which young people are participating in social action through structured programmes (e.g. Scouts, Fixers) compared with school or informal participation? Are there demographic differences in participation in these different forms of social action?
  • What difference does the route into social action make to the young person’s commitment to social action? For example, are those who got involved through school more or less likely to be committed to social action than those who got involved via other routes?


We also welcome secondary analysis of other datasets which ask about participation in volunteering, such as Understanding Society and the UK Time Use Diaries for 8-15 year olds. We are particularly interested to understand:
  • What is the relationship between wellbeing and participation in volunteering?
  • What is the relationship between social mobility and participation in volunteering?
  • What can longitudinal datasets tell us about young people’s participation in volunteering over time?
  • How much time do young people spend volunteering? What do those who volunteer spend the rest of their time on? What do those who do not volunteer spend their time on? In particular, how much time do young people aged 10-15 spend volunteering? How much control do young people of different ages have over their time?
Number of students partnered with:
Current status: Available to partner with

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