As part of #volunteersweek I explore youth social action and how it has played a huge part in changing my own and others’ future career paths and prospects.
Firstly, what is youth social action? Defined by #iwill, youth social action is young people undertaking practical activity in the service of others in order to create positive change that is of benefit to the community as well as to the young person themselves. To break it down more, it’s a young person who puts down their smartphone to meet different areas of the community such as the elderly or the disabled to identify a need or task that the young person can assist with. Examples of social action include transforming an outdoor place, teaching the older generation how to use IT or campaigning about something they care about, such as us YEUK Ambassadors, campaigning for youth employment rights.
Campaigns and programmes such as #iwill and National Citizen Service (NCS) have increased the popularity of youth social action hugely over the past few years. The latter has seen over 200,000 young people having taken part, with the goal to reach 1 million by 2020. NCS costs just £50 for the summer programme which takes place over 6 weeks, includes an activity residential to build personal and team work skills as well as a residential in student accommodation to develop life skills and their social action project.
Some amazing facts and figures courtesy of #iwill show that 90% of young people who have taken part in youth social action said that it’s helped them develop useful skills for the future and 75% said that they feel more confident in securing a job. So youth social action is proven to improve employability, but it also develops young participants too; 80% of young people felt capable of more than they realised and youth social action is proven to lower levels of anxiety amongst participants by 22%.
Although I did a small amount of volunteering with a local hospice at the age of 11, I got the bug when I went to a work experience day at a national organisation in London in 2014. I now volunteer with a number of organisations and it has allowed my confidence, values, and understanding of others to grow hugely. So much so, that I have now founded a not-for-profit in my local area, but beyond that, it has allowed me to find employment as volunteering is the only experience I can talk about on my CV and in an interview.
Many employers are amazed by young people who go to all this effort to do good, but it’s easier than they think, and now job descriptions are starting to ask for local community work and volunteering to be present in a candidate.
I agree with the Government’s aims and praise the funding so far given to youth social action schemes. However, I think more should be given to make programmes such as NCS free of charge to reach the highly deprived, as for every £1 invested on NCS, £2.65 on average is returned to the society. There should also be continued support for #iwill to promote youth social action to young people, adults and businesses.