Change that leads to better lives

Inspiring inclusivity

I want to share the stories of two very different people with a few things in common. They are very young, with serious personal issues to deal with, but they get a lot out of helping others.

Rachel joined ‘TheSite’, an online community run by digital volunteering organisation YouthNet, several years ago to get help with serious problems she was having while living in supported housing. She struggles with her physical and mental health sometimes and has experienced homelessness. Through accessing and providing support for other young people informally online she has developed friendships as well as confidence and empathy. Gradually she became involved in more formal volunteering opportunities including a Leaders programme. Over the years, thanks to the acceptance and appreciation she received via online communities she has developed enough confidence to talk in front of a live audience.

Aziz,16, is an unaccompanied asylum seeker from Pakistan, supported by Action for Children’s Extra Mile Leaving Care team. His first foster family moved away without him so he had to relocate to the other side of the city and found settling in there very hard. He is understandably also anxious because when he is 18 he may have to move back to Pakistan. Aziz felt that volunteering would help him find new friends and become part of the local community so his social worker put him in touch with Sheri from WWV, a charity that specialises in helping marginalised young people get into volunteering. Sheri researched the local area for opportunities and together they chose the local Oxfam shop. Aziz says ‘Doing volunteer work had a great impact on my life. Sheri comes to help me every week and she also tells me that if I need a proper job that she will help me to make my CV’. Volunteering has given Aziz a greater sense of belonging and, as well as increasing his confidence, he has gained new skills and improved his chances of gaining employment.

Many charities know that there is a wealth of talent and energy out there in the most marginalised young people. The question is how to make their social action opportunities – whether it be volunteering, fundraising or campaigning – more accessible, ensuring every young person can participate and share their talents. Having researched numerous success stories of charities who actively involve young people from disadvantaged backgrounds for the #iwill campaign, NDTi has put together a framework of ‘what works’ to help mainstream voluntary organisations understand how to make their opportunities for social action, including volunteering, more inclusive.

We are running a free webinar for charities to share this learning and offer practical advice on how to support all young people to get involved in youth social action. Follow the link in the right to find out more and book your free space. Join us at midday on Monday 29th June 2015 for an hour's free session. You can join from your computer or tablet, on your own or as a group.

This blog was originally published by the #iwill campaign.

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