Lock Up A iwillAlong with so many youth social action organisations and movements, we are celebrating #iwill week, marking the 2nd anniversary of the #iwill campaign for youth social action and calling on other organisations to join us. We pledged to support this growing movement that aims to make involvement in social action part of life for more 10-20 year-olds around the UK. Youth social action is defined as ‘young people taking practical action in the service of others to create positive change’ and includes activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering.

We commit to involve more young people to play an active role in building stronger, safer communities through high quality social action that benefits themselves and society as a whole.  We will also work with #Iwill, to increase the number of volunteering opportunities available to young people in the health and social care sectors through promoting the Youth Volunteering Toolkit in a cross sector Alliance.

Since pledging to the #iwill campaign, Volunteering Matters has successfully enabled over 1900 young people to make a difference to their lives and communities through volunteering.  Our experienced staff have trained and supported young people to lead their own volunteering projects, in order to build skills and confidence. Young volunteers have helped people with physical or learning disabilities, befriended older and socially isolated people and promoted health messages within their community.  In 2015, we produced a good practice guide aimed at increasing Youth Social Action within health and social care, in collaboration with Step up to Serve, the Department of Health and the National Association of Voluntary Services Managers, which supports volunteer management within the NHS.  We have since been actively promoting the use of this toolkit within the NHS. We are looking to build on this by increasing the number of young people involved in youth social action, which allows them to make a difference to their lives and communities through volunteering in order to build skills and confidence.

Oonagh Aitken, our Chief Executive adds: “We believe that volunteering and social action is vital in addressing the challenging environment that many young people face in their transition to adulthood. Volunteering ensures young people make a huge difference in their communities and gain future employability and life skills whilst building their confidence and meeting new people. We are very proud of our young volunteers who help people with physical or learning disabilities, befriend older and socially isolated people and promote health messages within their community.”

2015 Cabinet Office research produced compelling evidence that young people who take part in social action develop key character and employability skills. It follows on from this that involvement creates a double-benefit, strengthening communities and enhancing the skills of young participants.

Charlotte Hill, CEO of the charity running the #iwill campaign says: “We are delighted that Volunteering Matters has pledged to support our work, and is sharing their progress during #iwill week to inspire others to take part also. If we are to make involvement in social action the norm for 10-20 year-olds we need partners to commit to tangible actions just as they are doing. The involvement of Volunteering Matters will undoubtedly help us progress towards our goal.’

Working with business, education and voluntary sector partners, the campaign aims to ensure that all young people can access social action opportunities, whatever their background. The #iwill goal is to raise by 50% the number of 10-20 year-olds taking part in social action by 2020, which will mean an additional 1.5 million young people will be active in their communities.