Young people volunteer
Yvonne Hunt- Business Development Manager at Volunteering Matters

On World Youth Skills Day, and with the summer holidays (and life choices) looming, our colleague Yvonne Hunt highlights the potential for young people to gain vital life and employability skills through volunteering.

There will be a lot of talk about apprenticeships and vocational training today, but it’s important to remember that there are other ways to equip young people with the skills needed for an increasingly tough jobs market. Possibly unsurprisingly, here at Volunteering Matters we think one crucial route is through volunteering.

Volunteering is a significant way for young people to develop a whole host of life skills needed for employment and adult life, from self-confidence and motivation through to leadership skills. On our Positive Futures programme, young people design and lead their own volunteering projects, which include teaching IT skills to older people in a care homes, and running summer activities for children. In recent months, over 90% of our participants in Hackney told us they’d learnt new skills through their volunteering experience.

I was privileged to meet some of our young volunteers in Torfaen, Wales recently. Their ‘Sex Matters Too’ project has been hugely important in enabling young people to learn about safe sex and healthy relationships from their peers. Young volunteers have developed their communication skills and confidence, and I met one volunteer who was now in paid work directly as a result of her volunteering experience.

For these young volunteers in Torfaen highlight the importance of volunteering as a way to gain work experience, without which they couldn’t get a job. They described volunteering as “fantastic”, because they gained experience, new skills, confidence, made new friends and did something to benefit to others in their community. One young person had been bullied at school, and through volunteering, had gone on to develop an anti-bullying policy with the local youth service. She found that helping other young people had really motivated her to move beyond her bad experiences. Others spoke about how they had been getting into trouble, but had started volunteering as a way to channel their energies and skills in a positive direction.

In the words of one young volunteer “for experience, for confidence, for commitment” Volunteering works.