The benefits of volunteering for young people are:
- Helps build confidence and ambition
- Prepares young people for the world of work
- Helps enable people to think about career decisions
- Builds the ‘habit’ of volunteering from a young age
- Connects younger people to their community, a sense of belonging
- Teaches life skills
- Encourages engagement with social action
- A way to give back
Volunteer Centre Dorset can help young people find a volunteering opportunity to suit their interests and availability.
The untapped value of young people
Young people are a massively under-utilised resource, particularly in volunteering roles. They bring energy, knowledge and unique skills that could be channelled into all sorts of opportunities in the voluntary and community sector – if only we asked them for help.
Whilst there are some opportunities available, we know that if we can get even more young people into the volunteer ‘helpforce’, they are more likely to be a lifelong community asset.
What can young people bring to your group or organisation?
- A fresh perspective
- Knowledge of technology
- Understanding of marketing and social media
- Enthusiasm and energy
- The opportunity to learn from them and their experiences
"There are so many benefits to taking on young volunteers. For starters they generally have the best grip on social media! Some of our young volunteers source content for our channels and write blogs for various campaigns" ~ Holly, HealthWatch Dorset
Creating an opportunity for young people
So you would like to include volunteers under the age of 18 in your opportunities? Where do you start?
- Volunteer Agreement - As with all volunteers, a young person should sign a volunteer agreement. This should outline the role, your responsibilities to the volunteer and standard of conduct you will expect from them. Volunteers aged 16 and under should have this signed by a parent/guardian.
- Expenses - If your young volunteer is using public transport, these costs can soon add up. Equally, if they are relying on a parent/guardian to drive them, they may be less willing if affordability becomes an issue. Your organisation may receive more interest in volunteering opportunities if you reimburse travel expenses.
- Insurance - It is possible that your organisation may not be covered for anyone under 18 (and particularly under 16) volunteering. Please check your policy and make changes if required.
- Parental Consent - It is worth knowing who has parental responsibility for any young person. You may need different consent if they are not living with their birth parents, are living independently or are known to social services. We would recommend that you seek parental consent for anyone under 18. While this might be more difficult for 17-18 year olds, it is always ideal that parents are in the picture and aware of the good work their child is doing. It is good practice to provide parents with the role description, hours, responsibilities, and information about your organisation with key contact details. If the young volunteer will be working in different locations, or away from their regular place of volunteering, is it wise to inform the parent/guardian.
- Photo Consent - If you wish to use a young person's photograph for publicity purposes, you will need to obtain the parent/guardian's permission is they are under 16, or the volunteer's permission if they are 17+.
- Emergency Contact Details - Ensure you have correct and up-to-date emergency contact details, and the volunteer/parent has informed you of any significant health concerns. You may need to contact a parent/guardian if a young volunteer does not turn up as expected.
- DBS Checks - In some situations it will be necessary for adults working with young volunteers to have DBS checks. This is role and situation dependent. For more advice on your specific circumstances, please contact us direct and you can speak to our DBS advisor.
- Risk Assessment - You wll need a new risk assessment for young volunteers as there are different risks associated with them. These risks include the emotional impact a task can have, the challenges young people experience outside of their volunteering role as well as ensuring the role is suitable and not exploiting young people.
- Policies and Procedures - Check your existing policies and procedures are appropriate for young volunteers, you may need to make amendments to your policies or create new ones. Pay particular attention to your safeguarding policy.
- Induction and Training - A comprehensive induction process is important as it lays the foundation for the volunteer and sets out how their role sits within your group or organisation. Offering volunteers relevant training offers the chance to learn new skills and increase competencies.
- Finishing an Opportunity - Unfortunately, it is unlikely that your young volunteer will be able to stay in a role for a long time. They might need to leave because they are going onto further education or employment. Make it as easy as possible for them to move on, and provide a reference if asked. Don't forget the good ground work you have laid in their volunteering role will make it more likely that they will return to volunteering in the future, and possibly with your organisation.
There is also guidance on the Dorset Council website on young people and employment, including volunteering.
If you are a young person looking for an opportunity, or an organisation wanting to create one, please contact Volunteer Centre Dorset on [email protected] or call 01305 269214
HealthWatch Young Listeners
There are local and national programmes which young people can participate in which helps them to engage with volunteering. These include:
Dorset Youth Association - Young Leaders
For young people aged between 14-18. It is ideal for Young People who are interested in developing and demonstrating the skills and qualities required to be an effective leader. It can be used to develop leadership skills in a wide range of contexts, including youth clubs, sports and interest groups and educational leadership roles.
There is the opportunity to gain a L1 Leadership ASDAN course, for this you will need to take part in a 2-day training course and complete 60 hours of volunteering. Training will include: planning, communication, safeguarding, equality & diversity and leadership styles.
For more information, please contact [email protected]
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)
Aimed at 14-24 year-olds, the programme enables young people to participate in activities which helps them build essential skills for life and work, by completing a programme they can achieve an award ranging from Bronze, to Silver and Gold.
For more information, please visit the Duke of Edinburgh website. Your school may also be part of the programme, watch out for communications or newsletters with more details. Dorset Council also have some useful resources on their website.
The Prince's Trust
“We believe that every young person should have the chance to embrace exciting opportunities. So, we help 11 to 30 year-olds to find the tools and confidence to try free courses and start careers.” The Prince’s Trust
Weymouth College runs a Prince’s Trust programme, visit their website for more information.
For more information about this programme, please visit The Prince's Trust website. Your school or college may also be part of the programme, so keep an eye out for communications or newsletters, or ask your tutor.
National Citizen Service
“NCS is where young people can grow their strengths and become world-ready and work-ready. Through a range of different experiences — online, in their community, and away from home — young people can build their confidence, resilience, and well-being, gather work skills, and become engaged citizens who feel motivated to make a positive difference in society.” NCS Website
For more details, please visit the NCS website