Group of diverse teenagers are sitting together laughing, they are volunteering for a charity

Young people taking the lead

Published : 27/03/24 | Categories: Volunteering |

Find out how Foothold Cymru involved young people in volunteering through co-production, and how your voluntary organisation could do the same using their new toolkit.

There’s a lot to learn from recipients of the Volunteering Wales Strategic Grants who have been leading pioneering projects that look long-term at volunteering and how we can unlock its potential. One such project was run by Foothold Cymru who have been getting young people involved in volunteering and ensuring they are having their voices heard.

BE HEARD BE HELPFUL

Foothold Cymru’s ‘Volunteens: Be Heard Be Helpful’ has been engaging with young people of school age, asking them for their views on ways they would like to see the voluntary sector make volunteering more appealing.

With funding through WCVA’s Volunteering Wales Strategic Grants, Volunteens used co-production to ensure that their services are meaningful to those who will benefit from them, drawing on real life experience and skills.

To share learning the project has produced a toolkit, amongst other resources, with the input of hundreds of young people in the Carmarthenshire area – Youth Volunteering: A Toolkit for the Third Sector. Here are some of the key take-aways from the project.

MAKING VOLUNTEERING APPEALING

‘What is volunteering?’ was a question asked by a lot of the young people involved, and it became clear that they wanted to volunteer but didn’t know how to get involved.

Finding what volunteering opportunities would be appealing to young people was crucial in the early stages of the project.

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN VOLUNTEERING

Young people bring a wealth of new ideas and a different way of looking at things. Given the opportunity, they can share what is important to them and by listening to what they are passionate about, can help change what you do or how you do it as an organisation.

The Toolkit provides insight and guidance as to what makes young people want to be involved in volunteering. One young person, Charlotte said, ‘I have a sense of being proud of what we’ve achieved. It makes other people have a different viewpoint on young people.’

BE CLEAR ABOUT THE BENEFITS

Young people want to know what the future will bring, especially in today’s current climate. By engaging them through appealing volunteering opportunities we can support them to gain new skills or qualifications. We can also help them discover what they enjoy doing by giving them an opportunity to try new things, and giving them insight to what they might like to do as a career. We can give them purpose.

PERSON-CENTRED AND FLEXIBLE

Volunteering for young people needs to be appealing, making sure that the opportunities you offer match what they are passionate about. This could be through things they enjoy doing in their downtime, or things that make them feel better about themselves – either way it needs to be flexible, accessible and age appropriate.

Engaging young volunteers requires a balance, and this is addressed by tailoring the content to their unique needs. It acknowledges their willingness to engage, while supporting and acknowledging their limitations.

BEING A GOOD LISTENER

Good communication is vital and many young people don’t feel listened to. Often when young people don’t engage or offer an opinion it can be misinterpreted that they aren’t bothered. In fact they are, but because they haven’t been listened to before, or have been dismissed as being ‘too young to understand’ they can lose confidence and self-esteem.

WHAT’S IN THE TOOLKIT?

The Volunteens project has been a success. It has not only produced valuable and useful resources for the voluntary and education sectors, but also empowered and inspired young volunteers to take ownership of their volunteering journey and to influence positive change in their communities.

This toolkit covers many aspects of how to engage with young people for volunteering, topics include:

  • What is volunteering?
  • Why are young volunteers important?
  • Ask the experts: how can we get you involved?
  • Engagement
  • Recruitment
  • Recognition

Volunteering doesn’t have to be a one-time event, this Toolkit encourages organisations to provide ongoing support, recognise achievements and celebrate milestones, bringing about a commitment to helping others.

Voluntary organisations must earn the trust of young volunteers, and the toolkit emphasises this through accountability and clear communication. By nurturing trust, we can create a foundation for collaborating and sustained engagement for future generations.

OVER TO YOU

Foothold Cymru hopes that their project and their co-produced resources will inspire and support other organisations in the voluntary and the education sectors to embrace co-production and to involve young people in volunteering and decision making.

Take a look at the toolkit to find out more.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING WALES STRATEGIC GRANTS

The Volunteering Wales Strategic Grant scheme is funded by Welsh Government and managed by WCVA. Grant recipients have shown how strategic thinking about volunteering can be massively beneficial in achieving your organisation’s aims. See what you can learn from the projects by having a look at some of the resources they have produced:

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