The Great British Generosity Map: Oxfam reveals which UK cities and their residents are the most generous with their time

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New research reveals that more than two in five Brits have given up their time to volunteer for charity, with Gen Z being the most ‘time-generous’

Young people in Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Plymouth are leading the way when it comes to donating their time to charity.

Gen Z is the generation that is most generous with their time, followed closely by Millennials, according to research commissioned by Oxfam which relies on volunteers to work in its shops across the UK. The charity hopes to recruit more volunteers in the run up to Christmas.

Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents up to the age of 25 said they have volunteered for charity in some way. In comparison, 55% of Millennial respondents, 39% of Gen X respondents and 28% of Baby Boomer respondents reported that they have volunteered.

After surveying 2,000 people across the country, Oxfam’s research reveals we are a generous nation – with more than two in five (42%) respondents reporting they have volunteered their time to charity in some way. Of this number, a quarter (25%) have volunteered in a charity shop.

The average amount of hours which people volunteer within the top cities, per year, is: Belfast (216 hours), Edinburgh (285 hours), Glasgow (279 hours) and Plymouth (288 hours).

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first UK Oxfam shop opening in 1947 in Broad Street, Oxford believed to be one of the first charity shops in the world. There are now over 500 Oxfam shops operating across the UK, supported by generous volunteers.

After asking respondents of all ages what they enjoy most about volunteering, the results showed that well over two thirds (70%) gave up their time in exchange for friendship, social interaction, and to tackle feelings of loneliness. Over two in five volunteers also said giving up their time to a charity can help to: keep them active (22%); and help with mental health and wellbeing (21%).

Other top responses cited include: “it allows me to support a charity I’m passionate about” (28%), “I like to make a difference in my local community” (28%) and “for a sense of purpose” (27%).

But while the survey has shone a bright light on generosity and community spirit of people and cities across the UK, it also exposed a potential threat to this… the cost-of-living crisis.

When asked about barriers to volunteering, more than two in five (44%) of respondents said the cost-of-living crisis could impact their ‘ability’ and ‘willingness’ to volunteer with a charity.

In response to these findings, Lorna Fallon, Director of Retail at Oxfam, said:“From our research, it's promising to see that so many people have given up their time to support charities through volunteering and that, for many people, this has brought friendships, a sense of purpose, and a positive impact on their health and wellness. 

“At Oxfam, volunteers are at the heart of our movement to end poverty around the world, and we rely on them to keep our UK shops thriving. In the lead up to our busiest time of year, Christmas, we encourage people across the country to consider a volunteer role with us, where they can help to make a real difference and fight poverty globally in the process."

Actress Gurlaine Kaur Garcha, who supported Oxfam by carrying out a shift in a local Oxfam shop said: “It was an absolute pleasure to join the wonderful Oxfam volunteers at my local store for a shift. I had such a laugh helping out the team, from steaming clothes in the stock room, to dressing the mannequins in the windows, to serving the lovely customers on the till. It was brilliant to see first-hand all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of an Oxfam shop.

“But at Oxfam, volunteers are needed now more than ever. Sparing just a few hours of your week to help out can really make a difference to people in need, in your local community and all over the world.

“Whether you want to learn new skills, make new friends and or simply have some great conversations, then please do pop into your local Oxfam store and let them know that you’d like to volunteer – any support will be hugely welcomed.”

Dr Carolyn Mair, Behavioural Psychologist, said: “Looking at Oxfam's recent research findings, it's fantastic to learn that so many people report how they have enjoyed the time they have spent volunteering, and that they have seen personal benefits too. These outcomes are supported by evidence which finds that volunteering is powerful way to boost wellbeing.

“Volunteering helps us learn new skills, gain valuable experience, expand our social network, and achieve personal goals. By playing an active role in our society and contributing to positive change, volunteering enables us to join a new community of friends and colleagues which increases our sense of belonging and purpose. 

“When we volunteer, we are helping others and actively contributing to something bigger than we are. We experience a greater sense of belonging which increases our self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, happiness, and satisfaction with life, while also boosting our mental and physical health.”  

See the film of Gurlaine volunteering here:

Oxfam is looking for more volunteers to help fight poverty in its shops. For information, or to apply, pop into your local Oxfam shop or visit:


*About Oxfam: 

Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the big issues, like inequality and climate change, that keep people poor. Oxfam has more than 550 shops in the UK. By buying and donating through Oxfam shops, you can help to protect our planet, while helping the poorest people around the world to escape the injustice of poverty.

**About the Survey

  • Survey of 2,006 respondents (16+) undertaken by Censuswide in between 13.10.22 – 17.10.22
  • Most generous cities worked out by combining an average per city who said they have ‘ever taken part in a fundraising race/event for charity’; have ‘ever volunteered for a charity (For example, through volunteering in a charity shop, volunteering as a Trustee or Advisor, volunteering in your community, volunteering at a festival)’, and those who have ‘ever volunteered in a charity shop specifically’.
  • Generations represent the following age groups within the survey: Gen Z (aged 16-26), Millennials (16-25), Gen X (aged 42-57), Baby Boomers (aged 58+)

The most generous cities:

Belfast (77%)

Edinburgh (75%)

Glasgow / Plymouth (73%)

Bristol (68%)

London (66%)

Birmingham/ Southampton (64%)

Liverpool (63%)

Leeds (59%)

Manchester / Norwich / Nottingham – (58%)

Cardiff / Sheffield (57%)

Swansea (53%)

Newcastle (52%)

Brighton (47%)

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact the Oxfam GB Media Team: