Increasing volunteering in Scotland. How will you get involved?

Jenni Snell, #IWill National Development Officer, blogs for us about attending the Youth VIP event on the future of volunteering in Scotland.

It has been a fortnight since the Youth VIP group hosted an inspiring and thought-provoking National Discussion Day to launch their recommendations on the future of youth volunteering in Scotland. And it is a testimony to their efforts and hard work that in the two weeks following I still find myself surrounded by an overwhelming buzz about the event and the recommendations that were launched.

I mean, what else can you expect from an event that was trending on Twitter? Pretty impressive but totally unsurprising when we all know the heights that young people reach when given the opportunity.

The What

So, what was Youth VIP event all about?

After a year of researching, reflecting and reviewing, the young people, who worked alongside Project Scotland & Young Scot, hosted a launch event for their thirteen volunteering recommendations. The morning included a keynote speech from Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell, a Q&A panel with some of the Youth VIP members, implementation workshops on specific recommendations and much more!

There was a whole host of people in the room: Politicians, Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs), Youth Workers, Voluntary Organisations, Funding Bodies and more. It really highlighted the breadth of volunteering and challenged us all to think through different perspectives and lenses.

The event was a true reflection of what a genuine youth participation & co-design process looks like and for me highlighted the obvious - that when young people’s voices are embedded from the start, then amazing things are undoubtedly going to happen!

The Why

I was particularly excited to attend the event for two reasons.

  • The Youth VIP group has two of our amazing #IWill Ambassadors involved.
  • Many of the recommendations tie into the #IWill Campaign’s vision for the future of youth volunteering in Scotland.

Although there is already a lot to celebrate about youth volunteering in Scotland – we currently have 52% of young people involved in some capacity - research by Volunteer Scotland has highlighted that there is still a long way to go in ensuring that young people from all backgrounds are included. In 2016, only 16% of young people from the lowest SIMD quintile were participating in out of school volunteering opportunities.

Our vision for the #IWill campaign is to see:  

  • Young people being able to access volunteering opportunities from all backgrounds and situations.
  • Young people getting involved in volunteering from a younger age to increase continued participation in adulthood.
  • Young people involved in decision-making processes across all sectors that have an impact on their lives & futures.

That is what really excites me about the recommendations; several of the thirteen recommendations link to the aims of the #IWill campaign. The young people have created an innovative set of actions that will significantly help to reduce barriers and increase participation in volunteering opportunities in Scotland.

The Who

However, if we want this to be a reality, we need to have everyone, across all sectors, on board to create meaningful and lasting change. The young people in Youth VIP have done an amazing job creating a platform to shout about the importance of volunteering but it is not solely their responsibility to take these forward…we all have a key role to play.

Myself and colleagues from YouthLink Scotland and Step up to Serve made a pledge at the end of the event. Our pledge to the YouthVIP group was to “work in partnership with Youth VIP on implementing the recommendations through the #IWill campaign.” A pledge that we are all really keen to get cracking on!

So, my challenge to you is to take a moment and reflect on what your pledge is to support the implementation of these recommendations. What can you do as an individual, as a school, as a voluntary organisation, as a youth group, as a politician, as a business, to help make these recommendations a reality?  

And if you haven’t already, don’t waste any more time! Go grab yourself a copy of the report, read and digest the thirteen recommendations and start planning what your next steps are to support more young people into volunteering!

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