Finding out what young people want

I’ve been having a look through some results of the Hampshire LPSA survey conducted at the end of last year. LPSA stands for ‘Local Public Service Agreement‘, and are voluntary agreements negotiated between a local authority – in this case, Hampshire County Council, and the Government. The idea is to improve local public services by focusing on targeted outcomes from Government.

In order to measure progress on the targets in these agreements, Hampshire County Council gets MORI to conduct surveys and research. A lot of this is public information, available on the web, which makes it very useful to charities like us, who can’t afford to carry out such large scale research.

It means that not only do we get the raw statistics, but also the benefit of statistical analysis included with the published figures. Reports often also include comparisons with surveys conducted by MORI for other authorities in recent years, “intended to act as a context in which to place findings for Hampshire and to aid in the interpretation of results”. This makes them a valuable resource when developing and evaluating the projects we provide for our local community.

I’ve been looking at the statistics from the most recent LPSA Residents Survey. The actual results are 254 pages of numbers and percentages, with figures broken down by age-range, district and ‘social grade’. There are some interesting figures in there:

For example, around a quarter of residents feel that anti-social behaviour has become more of a problem in the last year. Teenagers hanging around on the streets was cited as one of the biggest anti-social behaviour problems in the local area and a problem which has one of the largest impacts on residents’ quality of life. In Eastleigh, an area where we do a lot of work, 56% of respondents thought it was one of the three biggest problems in their local area. The proportion of Eastleigh respondents who thought this had the biggest effect on their quality of life was 41% – even higher than the Hampshire average (23%). By highlighting the positive contribution that so many young people make to the local area through us, this is one area where we can help to improve perceptions.

‘Activities for teenagers’ was seen as the thing which most needs improving in their local area by 37% of respondents (41% in Eastleigh, 46% in Fareham, 33% in New Forest, 38% in Winchester). Figures like these are useful to support the need for services like ours, whilst also highlighting that there is a lot more that we can do.

The figures also suggest that there are more people out there that we haven’t reached yet. Of those respondents aged 16-24 who said that they have not been actively involved with a voluntary group or organisation, 21% said that they would be interested to. It is this group of people – people who don’t volunteer – that it would be most interesting to hear more from. For example, 87% of respondents aged 16-24 who are not volunteering said that that have enquired about becoming a volunteer, but not actually become involved. So it seems that it is perhaps important to focus not just on advertising and promotion which makes people aware of us, but also to consider what our first contact with someone is like, and how we can make sure that we don’t lose their initial enthusiasm or scare them off. Nearly half of these people (47%) said that the problem was realising that they didn’t have enough time! I wonder what our ratio of initial enquiries to actual volunteers is like? I’ll have to check…

Some figures were a little surprising, like the four respondents in the 16-24 age range who said they had been involved with a particular volunteering organisation for over 10 years!

Other results (description taken from the summary of findings):

Slightly fewer Hampshire residents than the national average have informally volunteered in the last 12 months, but more than half have volunteered informally. The most common form of informal volunteering is looking after a pet or property while some is away. A significant minority of residents have been the recipient of informal voluntary help in the last year, the most common form of which is again someone looking after a property or pet while they are away.

A greater proportion of residents have been involved in formal than informal volunteering, most commonly in relation to sports and exercise organisations and groups and clubs associated with hobbies, recreation and arts.

The most widely undertaken activities are organising or helping to run an event or activity and raising or handling money. The local newspaper and people already involved in a group are the most commonly cited likely sources of information about volunteering among residents who do not currently formally volunteer. Insufficient time is the most common reason for not volunteering.

It is interesting to see looking after a pet while someone is away described as volunteering. Of course it is volunteering, but I’d not considered it as such before! And it is useful to hear that – even in today’s online age – people still find local newspaper as one of the best ways to find out about volunteering opportunities near them.

There is lots more in the results and it’ll take us some time to properly review it. But my first look through it shows that there is some useful information available for free in the public domain – you just need to go and look for it.

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