by Jake Sidhu – YEUK Youth Ambassador
Ahead of #volunteersweek, starting 1st June, and with this month’s APPG for Youth Employment looking at volunteering, I took a timely look at the benefits of volunteering for young people, whether they are in school or unemployed.
A recent BBC Newsbeat article reported that there has been a ‘dramatic’ rise in the number of 16-25 year olds volunteering, up to 2.9 million people in 2015 compared to 1.8 million in 2010 (over a 50% increase). The reasons for this are mainly due to the introduction of NCS, a summer programme some of you may be familiar with, which encourages people to volunteer within their community. The legacy from the London Olympics has also been attributed to this rise.
Yet there was no mention of the DofE award which, for me personally, is a big factor for people who start volunteering from an early age, as the DofE is solely dedicated to this age group (15-25 year olds). Young people who undertake an award will automatically contribute to this number as, historically, the DofE awards place a big emphasis on volunteering.
The opportunities for volunteering are immense, ranging from teaching and coaching to working at care homes in your spare time. Remember, volunteering opportunities are not confined to NCS and DofE awards; the world really is your oyster when it comes to choosing what you want to do, whether it is for an award or just to give back to your community.
Equally, the potential benefits are huge; you have the chance to learn new skills outside of the classroom which can be directly applicable to the work place. For those who are not in education or in work, it can be a spring board for you to build upon and even test out a career. It is increasingly being looked upon favourably at interviews and is well worth putting on CV’s and UCAS forms. So the more you put in, the more likely you are to reap the (fairly extensive) rewards after.
For me, volunteering has done a lot. I am lucky enough to have taken part in the DofE award schemes, where I have completed Bronze and Silver, with Gold (hopefully) following shortly. Doing coaching as part of my Silver DofE helped me get my first job as a part time sports coach, something I did for 18 months alongside school, for just two hours a week every Saturday. Even though it wasn’t a huge commitment, it was certainly beneficial and a great experience. But don’t just take my word for it; there are plenty of examples where volunteering has helped people in all aspects.
The story of Megan Simpkins is a source of great inspiration, not just in the volunteering sense. Megan was diagnosed with stage one cancer and relied on therapy from Dimbleby Cancer Care in London. The entire organisation relies on fundraising to cover costs, as well as volunteers to provide services. After her therapy, she felt the need to give back to the centre, via fundraising at pub quizzes and volunteering to provide services and raise awareness about the fantastic work that the centre does. Her tremendous efforts earned her a visit to Downing Street, where she spoke to Samantha Cameron about her experiences and represented Dimbleby Cancer Care.
Whilst I can’t promise you’ll get a letter inviting you to speak to the Prime Minister’s Wife, I fully believe that there are benefits to giving up your time for some very good causes. Volunteering is not just about ‘good karma’ (but that is a decent incentive), it can help make a real difference for others and for yourself as well. It is the only reason that charities around the world exist; because people are willing to give up their time to help others, not just their money.
If you’re still not inspired, then I think this definitely will:
“Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” – Sherry Anderson
And remember, the more you put in, the more you get out.
If you’re aged 16-24, and would like to have opportunities to attend events like the APPG and to write articles for YEUK, visit our Youth Ambassador page for more information and to #volunteer with us.