Involving Young Volunteers

Young volunteers have a vast amount to give, and yet a lot of organisations are missing out on this vital opportunity, citing a number of common myths surrounding youth volunteering.

If organisations don’t support young volunteers, then we are not safeguarding our own futures by supporting the next generation of volunteers and, more importantly, we’re missing out on all the benefits that young volunteers can bring to our organisations.

The same topics arise in every discussion of young people volunteering: insurance won’t cover this age group, young people would need too much training, there’s no one to supervise them, or perhaps they’ve had bad experiences with young volunteers before. Some of these are valid worries, many are urban myths, but more often than not, it’s just been easier for many organisations to stick to the status quo than tackle the changes that are needed in order to embrace young volunteers.

Of course, many organisations lack vital resources and capacity so key to this initiative will be helping more organisations to look at their current approaches and understanding of young volunteers. It is encouraging that, with some simple steps, a great amount can be achieved.  

6 Steps to Involve Young Volunteers

Adapting a current role

Remember to take in to account commitments that young people might have, for example school work. Perhaps it isn't appropriate for young people to work one-to-one with your beneficiaries, but they could always help out under the supervision of a senior volunteer, or even as a small group of young people.

Insurance or youth policies

Sometimes, all it takes is a small tweak of your organization's current policy to include under-18s, and if not then perhaps they will be covered by their school or youth group's policy or award scheme. It's also worth identifying organisations in your area which you know work with young volunteers and approaching them for advice.

Use technology to create new opportunities

Almost all young people are familiar with new technology, software and social media. A huge range of volunteering opportunities can be created easily with this as a springboard, such as getting a young person to manage social media sites, blog regularly or make and edit videos, photos and publicity – all of which can even be done remotely.

Get young people and staff prepared

By developing training sessions with young people in mind, you can easily cover lots of potential issues, such as confidentiality, what it means to be a responsible volunteer, and what to do if they have any issues. Why not approach your local voluntary youth organisation, and see if they run any sort of training for young volunteers? Don't forget to prepare current staff and volunteers for working with young people – sometimes a bad experience with other volunteers can put young people off.

Don't forget rewards

Sounds obvious, but we all like to be appreciated. Does your organisation have an awards evening in which you could include young people? Could you support a young person's participation in a nationally recognised volunteering award?

Shout about it!

If we all shout about what we are doing to support young volunteers, it will gradually become more acceptable to include young volunteers, and we can learn from one another's experiences. Use newsletters, social media and local schools or youth groups to publicise your good work – and let's get County Durham talking about how we can support a new generation of volunteers.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

– Oscar Wilde

Further Support Available

Stockton Volunteers is dedicated to supporting volunteer involved organisations in Stockton-on-Tees. Further support is available through our website where you can:

  • Download more Good Practice Guides
  • Find out more about the Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark
  • Place volunteer advertisements
  • Get information about our latest Stockton Volunteers Partnership Meeting
  • Contact us for advice and support on your volunteering programmes
  • Get advice on policies and procedures for volunteering.

The Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark is awarded to organisations who demonstrate commitment to supporting and nurturing their volunteers.

Recognised across County Durham and Stockton-on-Tees, the Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark follows the ethos of Volunteer England and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).