This week is Volunteers Week. We thought we would take the opportunity to understand more about our young people’s experiences of volunteering. On Tuesday evening, (which also happened to be Power of Youth day!), we asked our regular volunteers some key questions.

Often people have preconceptions about the types of young people who volunteer – but this was a group representative of our town in all its beautiful diversity. 32 young people were in attendance from 19 local schools, including 2 from a pupil referral unit and one from a special school. The young people came from 9 different ethnic backgrounds and 5 different faiths. 3 have learning disabilities and 2 have longstanding mental health conditions. Just a regular evening at our volunteer session in Slough!

The young people’s views

We asked the young people what skills they feel they gain from volunteering:

  • Teamwork
  • Social skills and how to interact.
  • Responsibility
  • Confidence – especially the confidence to talk to new people.
  • Resilience
  • Honesty
  • Communication
  • Forward planning
  • Dedication and commitment
  • Knowledge
  • An understanding of how to help people with their challenges.
  • Fundraising
  • Public speaking
  • Empathy
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Freedom

These are the factors young people identified as barriers to volunteering:

  • Being unable to find places to volunteer, especially places which will accept young people.
  • Poor weather
  • Not having enough time
  • Money – not having the bus fare.
  • Not having permission
  • Poor health
  • People might not know about what social action is or where to go to do it.
  • Being worried about how people in the community might view or judge you.
  • Family and caring responsibilities
  • Being nervous to meet other people / awkwardness.
  • Challenges with transport

We asked the young people why they volunteer:

  • Pure enjoyment
  • To be with friends
  • To help our community and the environment
  • To give time to help other people.
  • Because it’s fun
  • To complete my Duke of Edinburgh
  • To get to know new people and to be more active.
  • To decrease anxiety
  • To change the Slough community and make it better.
  • To gain confidence
  • To keep me busy
  • To become more altruistic
  • To be a nice person
  • Enjoy making others happy and do something good in the world
  • To enhance my CV
  • For social skills
  • To be a part of something