Volunteering younger person and older person

Through our work with health and social care providers, we know that young volunteers can make a real difference to the lives of patients, servicer users and the wider community. The experience of volunteering also helps to boost young peoples’ skills, confidence and wellbeing. It’s a win-win situation that we’d like to see replicated across the UK. We believe that youth volunteering can bring substantial benefits to people in hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries and community settings.

To coincide with #iwill week, we are publishing an evaluation report of our work to support the development of youth volunteering in health and care. This was delivered together with the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) and the National Association of Voluntary Service Managers (NAVSM). The work was funded by NHS England and the Active Communities programme.

Our programme of work engaged more than 180 professionals in the health, social care, youth and education sectors. We offered support and professional development opportunities through seminars and webinars, and online resources such as good practice case studies on our dedicated web page. 95% of professionals who engaged with our work said they had gained knowledge, skills and confidence in youth volunteering.

However, barriers to engaging young volunteers still exist. Our report makes recommendations to address these, and to create a step change in youth volunteering in health and care.

We call for:

  • NHS England and the Five Year Forward View People and Communities Board (PCB) to show leadership on youth volunteering, and to inspire leaders in the health and care sector to engage with this agenda. This should include a single national policy, taking a clear position that those under the age of 18 can volunteer within agreed guidelines.
  • Health and social care organisations must work together with youth and voluntary sector organisations to engage more disadvantaged young people. Their skills and talents could be nurtured through volunteering and social action, but they remain underrepresented. We need to tailor our offer to meet the needs of this demographic.
  • Investment needs to be targeted at increasing capacity to engage young volunteers, particularly ‘hard to reach’ groups.
  • A broader range of youth volunteering opportunities. We need to see more youth volunteer coordinator roles, and flexible volunteering opportunities for those who have specific needs.
  • Young volunteers’ voices need to be heard. We need to develop more ‘health champion’ roles, whereby young people can educate and support others in taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing. Young volunteers can also play an important role as ambassadors, promoting youth social action to their peers. The development and growth of social prescribing provides a strong and coherent framework for this.

To fulfil our #iwill pledge, Volunteering Matters looks forward to continuing to work with all our partners to unlock a broad and diverse range of opportunities for youth volunteering in health and social care settings