This week we’re focusing on our life changing work with young people. And as we celebrate the difference that children and young people can make to their communities and their own lives through the power of volunteering, our own Director of Volunteering Delivery Emma Thomas-Hancock marks 18 years working with the charity.

So we’ve taken the opportunity to find out what she’s learnt ‘growing up’ with Volunteering Matters, and in the voluntary sector. In this short film we hear about how her work started with young people, how the volunteering landscape has changed and she even gives us her volunteering predictions for the future.

Emma joined us in the year 2000 – based in a Sussex police station and coordinating a scheme encouraging young volunteers to get involved with crime reduction initiatives – something she describes as really exciting and unique at the time.

Volunteering Matters itself now engages over 900 young volunteers each year, reaching a further 2,255 young people as beneficiaries. With Emma now our Director of Volunteering Delivery, our younger volunteers support people with physical or learning disabilities, befriend older and socially isolated people and promote health messages within their community. Most importantly, young people are empowered to decide upon, and tackle the issues in their communities that really matter to them.

Nationwide, millions of 16 to 25-year-olds now volunteer their time and talents. Figures show 2.9m young people across the UK volunteered in 2015, compared to 1.8m in 2010, a 52% increase. While the increases in volunteering by young people that we’ve seen in the last five years may be starting to level off, 16 – 25 year olds still report the highest rate of volunteering of any age group.

As the film shows, Emma’s passion for volunteering has only grown and she believes one of the biggest lessons she has learnt during her time with Volunteering Matters so far is that ‘there really is something out there that everybody can do.’

This is a message we will be spreading far and wide as part of our Young People’s Focus Week, encouraging even more young people to volunteer and more investment in their volunteering.

Watch the film in full:

Find out more about our work with Young People