As schools break up across Hertfordshire for the summer, many young people will be looking at ways to fill their time. With results from the government commissioned Community Life Survey indicating that 29% of 16 to 24-year-olds took part in formal volunteering, and 25% in informal volunteering, activities between 2021 and 2022, a high number of young people may choose to spend summer making a positive difference to their local areas.
There are a multitude of benefits that this type of involvement can offer, such as developing valuable life skills, providing first-hand experiences that can help shape future career aspirations, encouraging a sense of social consciousness, and seeing what a positive difference actions can make to the lives of others.
Ansvar, the expert insurer for the charity, faith, and not-for-profit sectors, recognises the transformative power that volunteering can have on young individuals, and is urging charities and organisations across the county to actively encourage young people to give their time.
Martyn Fletcher, Deputy Managing Director at Ansvar, said: ‘Volunteering during the summer break can be incredibly rewarding for young people, fostering empathy, social skills, and a sense of responsibility. It also allows individuals to make a meaningful impact on their communities and gain a deeper understanding of social issues. By offering young volunteers the chance to actively contribute to their communities, charities and organisations can enrich the lives of young volunteers and help to nurture a generation of compassionate and engaged citizens.’
While volunteering provides an excellent opportunity for community involvement, Ansvar says it is crucial for organisations to prioritise safety and wellbeing, making sure appropriate safeguards and risk management strategies are in place.
Martyn emphasised the importance of a proactive approach in engaging young people in volunteering activities. He added: ‘Young volunteers have a unique perspective and energy that can bring immense value to charitable organisations. However, it is important to recognise and address the potential risks they may encounter to ensure everyone has a safe and rewarding experience.’
Ansvar offers the following advice:
- Adequate supervision: Assign experienced staff or adult volunteers to supervise and guide young volunteers, ensuring they are properly supported throughout their activities. These supervisors should be accessible for support, provide regular feedback, and ensure the volunteers’ wellbeing and safety.
- Establish clear guidelines: Create a comprehensive set of guidelines and policies that outline expectations, appropriate conduct, and safety protocols. This will help young volunteers understand their responsibilities and ensure a respectful and safe environment.
- Provide appropriate training: Equip young volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their tasks safely and effectively. This should include instruction on health and safety practices, ethical considerations, and any specific requirements of the volunteering role.
- Age-appropriate assignments: Tailor volunteer opportunities to match the capabilities and maturity levels of young people. Assign them tasks that align with their skills, interests, and development stages, while keeping in mind any legal restrictions on the types of work young people can undertake.
- Provide a safe environment: Ensure the volunteering environment is safe and secure for young individuals. Conduct regular risk assessments considering the nature of the tasks, potential physical or emotional risks, and implement appropriate health and safety measures.
- Background checks and screening: Apply suitable screening processes, including background checks, for all volunteers who will have direct contact with vulnerable individuals.
- Communication and consent: Establish open lines of communication with volunteers under 18 and their parents or guardians to obtain consent, clearly outlining expectations, risks, and procedures for reporting any concerns or incidents.
- Insurance coverage: Ensure the charity or organisation has comprehensive insurance coverage specifically designed for the risks associated with young volunteers. Ansvar can provide expert advice on insurance solutions tailored to the charity, faith, and not-for-profit sectors.
Martyn concluded: ‘At Ansvar, we believe in the power of volunteering and the positive impact it can have on young individuals. It’s crucial to strike a balance between encouraging young people to participate in volunteering and ensuring their safety. By taking appropriate precautions and implementing effective risk management strategies, organisations across Hertfordshire can create a safe and enriching environment for young people to actively engage in volunteering activities.’