Young volunteers

27th Mar 2023

Young volunteers

There are many benefits of young people volunteering. For the young people, the experience helps them to develop skills, confidence, and new interests; as well as providing an opportunity for them to contribute to society. For the Group or organisation, it allows space to engage with young people and their families in new ways and can provide time, skills, and resources to further a mission. As a consequence, local communities are impacted, as the culture of volunteering often increases the level of intergenerational communication, understanding, and respect. 

Debunking 3 Youth Volunteering Myths

Myth #1: Young people do not have any experience of being a volunteer.  

Whilst they may not have a full understanding of all that is involved in being a volunteer, many teenagers have been volunteering since early childhood. This will often be through opportunities at school or church to contribute in small ways, whereas for others, they have experienced what it means to provide help and support at home caring for other family members.

Myth #2: Young people won’t commit to volunteering.

There are times when it is more challenging for young people to be available, especially during exam periods. However, many young people find the experience of volunteering so rewarding that their commitment grows and strengthens with their appreciation of the impact on their own lives and in the communities they serve. Therefore, it is important that volunteer opportunities are engaging and help young people to grow as an individual and build their confidence.

Myth #3: Young people are not interested in volunteering.

It is true that not all young people will be interested in volunteering initially. Some may not have the capacity, some may feel they do not have the confidence or ability, and others will not understand the benefits. However, the number one reason that young people do not volunteer is because they simply do not know what opportunities exist for them to serve. It is important to make sure your vision and goals are clear, in language and formats that young people understand and connect with, and that potential barriers to volunteering are reduced where possible.

What next? How can we engage young volunteers?

Attract young people.

Understand, promote, and publicise the benefits of volunteering through different avenues that are engage young people (e.g., role modelling, social media, etc.).

Inclusively recruit young people.

Provide various opportunities to volunteer, allowing all young people the chance to develop themselves further, regardless of their confidence or perceived ability.

Resource young volunteers.

Do not think of young people as ‘mini adults’. Young people are rarely self-reliant and often need a little more emotional support than adults. Reduce barriers by providing the resources and encouragement young people with different skillsets and from different backgrounds need to volunteer.

Provide support and training.

Provide quality support and training for the young volunteers so they can develop new skills and build their confidence.

Celebrate and reflect.

Honour and celebrate the young volunteers regularly, with marked achievements and opportunities to further incentivise them to explore new avenues of volunteering. Find creative ways to encourage young people to reflect upon their experiences as a volunteer, helping them to identify the ways they have had an impact in their setting and appreciate their own growth and personal development.

Sara Taylor
Missions Lead


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