The Positive Ripple Effect of Volunteering

“Mentoring creates a ‘ripple effect’, improving relationships and well-being for both the mentor and mentee, bringing a renewed sense of purpose, perspective and positivity.”

Laura Ellis, MCR Pathways Mentor Services Team

Over recent years, there has been a notable decline in volunteering in the third sector. The Scottish Household Survey (Dec 2023) reported that from 2019 to 2022, rates of formal volunteering dropped from 26% to 22%. Various factors may contribute to this decline such as financial and time constraints, concerns about flexibility, the amount of time someone is able to commit to volunteering, and opportunities not matching skills or experience.

This statistic is worrying in itself, with a recent Centre for Social Justice report further impacting the significance and concerns of these findings. The ‘Drowning not Waving’ report highlights issues of ‘in-work poverty’ and a surge in school-age children experiencing mental health challenges. Finally, the charity Place2Be states that 1 in 5 children experience mental health difficulties, with half of mental health issues developing by age 14. Not only are volunteering rates going down, but the need for volunteers is substantially increasing. 

In light of these findings, we believe volunteering through mentoring is a crucial step towards addressing these issues by providing vital support to our young people. There is a great opportunity to improve these alarming statistics; with the MCR Pathways programme already in over 130 schools in Scotland and the South East of England, we can work towards a brighter future for young people in our communities. 


Benefits to volunteering with MCR Pathways

These recent reports have allowed us to further reflect on what MCR Pathways already offers our volunteers, as well as how we can support people who are interested in joining our community. Despite the challenging circumstances, it’s essential to recognise that volunteering presents immense opportunities and has a lasting impact on young people, individuals and organisations.

“For our young people an hour of mentoring a week can have a lifetime of impact. They form relationships with mentors that are powerful for building confidence, self esteem and wellbeing. MCR mentoring is simply transformational for education outcomes, job choices and life chances. Mentoring ensures young people are determined by their talent and potential and not their circumstances. The amazing thing is that mentors not only make a life changing difference, they can experience one themselves.”

Dr Iain MacRitchie, Founder of MCR Pathways

Our national 2023 end-of-year survey revealed a significant positive impact on the mental health and well-being of our young people. 83% of young people on the programme told us that having a mentor has improved their confidence, and 85% said having a mentor has helped them believe in themselves more. As a testament to this, a young person on the programme shared their experience: “Right from the start, we bonded and my mentor has managed my health and stress really well which is all I can ever ask for.”

Not only are the benefits on young people evident, but on the volunteers too. A study by The National Council for Voluntary Organisations found that over three-quarters of volunteers (77%) reported an improvement in their mental health and well-being, 93% enjoyed volunteering and 90% felt like they made a difference through volunteering. Our MCR research supports these findings, with one of our mentors expressing, “My favourite thing about mentoring is looking forward to our next meeting and the smile he has when greeting me and the positive impact to both of us.”

The positive impact of volunteering also transcends beyond individuals to organisations. Not only does it encourage personal development, volunteering significantly contributes to workplace culture. According to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, volunteer mentors often report enhanced leadership skills, improved communication, and a heightened sense of job satisfaction. Recognising these positive effects can be a game-changer for organisations; facilitating employees to undertake volunteering opportunities is important for employee retainment and harnessing a positive and progressive work culture.

At MCR Pathways we will continue to work to alleviate the potential barriers to volunteering. We recognise the importance of time constraints and allow mentors to select times and dates that align with their schedules. We have a collaborative process where mentors and mentees can agree on weekly meeting times that suit them both. We work hard to match our volunteer mentors with a young person in a local school, minimising travel time and costs. Addressing concerns related to skills and experiences, we recognise the importance of personal qualities over hard skills. We seek mentors who have traits such as empathy, kindness, patience and commitment. 

We invite you to join us as a volunteer mentor and be part of a supportive community where meaningful relationships blossom. Sign up today at

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