Youth volunteering guidelines

Guidelines to help the third sector, community groups and partners in the public and private sector offer practical and effective volunteering opportunities to young people.

Appendix 1 – Case studies

Case study 1

Sam has been volunteering as part of our Youth Voice in a Sustainable Democracy Project since July 2019. This project is aimed at helping young people have their voices heard on the issues that matter most to them. Sam is working with a group of young volunteers looking at how we can end poverty in Scotland. He has original ideas and is a vital part of the team, it has also been fantastic to see his confidence grow since we first met and see him take more of a leadership role.

It wasn't always this way though. Sam says "I experienced racism for a decade from primary to secondary school. Now I am working and it still affects me. It all started one day when someone pushed me during lunch at the playground and as I turned around to see who it was, the individual said, "Go back to your country." The people around him laughed at that comment. I was confused for the rest of the day as to what he meant as I thought I was in my country. I would eventually forget about it, thinking it was a random one-off event. I didn't realise at that point that it would be a daily event in my life for most of my primary and secondary education. I missed so much school that it became a problem, it made me feel like everybody was against me; like they were all talking about me and they all hated me. I felt rejected and isolated and it messed with my self-confidence.

Having fewer friends meant more isolation and feelings of helplessness which led me to have depression and suicidal thoughts, which is still affecting me, and it brought on my persisting social anxiety. It made me think about moving school, but I didn't feel anything would get better; I'd just be an outcast there like I was at my high school".

Volunteering outside of school was the only place that Sam felt safe and that he fitted in. These feelings of a safe and purposeful life led Sam to volunteer for local and national groups which he says have been greatly beneficial in rebuilding his confidence. Sam says "I'm gaining new skills and qualities and meeting new people, it's brilliant. 2 of the projects I am involved in are the Young Scot, Fairer Future project which is about Race equality in Scotland and closer to home I'm volunteering with Renfrewshire youth commission focusing on young people's mental health"

He continued "My volunteering experiences allowed me to meet and work with people (staff and other volunteers) who respect me and value my opinion. Unlike school, I feel safe when I'm volunteering. It helps me a lot with my mental health. I am happy when I am volunteering and learning new ways to cope with my depression. As a result of this, I can now contribute in ways that I never thought possible. The staff at both projects always have time to talk with me. They get alongside me with a gentle word when I need it and trust me to work as part of the team. They have accepted me for who I am and what I bring. This has been very important by helping me to change for the better.

I've learned that a small number of racist people from school were the minority and that the majority of people in Scotland are very friendly and welcoming. If I had one message for others it would be please welcome volunteers into your organisations and help them discover their talents, it helps them and it will help you".

Case study 2

Ross Elder is 25 years old and lives in Inverness. He tried studying. He started a couple of courses, but they didn't stick and he wasn't happy. He learned about volunteering online and was keen to explore what it had to offer. Ross wasn't having any luck at the Job Centre and the lack of direction was adding to feelings of disinterest and depression.

Ross describes himself as feeling a little lost before volunteering. He didn't know what to do next, without doing another course within further education. With the help of ProjectScotland Ross realised the benefit of gaining experience through volunteering. This was a turning point for Ross.

Ross was happy to go the extra mile, literally. He travelled 30 miles each way to meet the commitment of his volunteering role. His volunteering agency helped him arrange a car share with a colleague so he could work 2 days a week with the Digital Communications Team, supporting content creation for Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Sian Jamieson is the Digital Campaigns Officer at Cairngorms National Park Authority. She is an advocate for supported volunteering. She said "Ross made an immediate impact. He has a keen eye and we were able to send him out on location to gather content and cover significant events at the Park. He quickly established himself as a key member of our team and demonstrated great commitment and enthusiasm for the role. We know that matching the skills and passion of the volunteer to the opportunities we offer and removing practical barriers such as transport are crucial to the success of a placement."

Before Ross even completed his volunteer placement, he was offered an internship at the Park. Ross said he was surprised – he didn't realise the value he was adding and it was great to hear such positive feedback. "I was made to feel so welcome and was quickly working on an archive of images which I found interesting. I've also done a bit of photography and am really into it, so it was great to be asked to take pictures of events or video clips for use on social media."

The cherry on the top was the job offer, which essentially means he will continue to do the work he started as a volunteer but as a paid employee. Ross is feeling a lot more positive and talks about his desire to continue working hard, trying new things, including doing more photography. He feels like doors are opening for him, including the door to a new flat (after previously living with his family). He's a lot happier and his mood has changed towards everything.

"I feel really lucky to have to be placed in such a lovely organisation, everyone is so nice so being offered a job was a lovely surprise. I had been trying to do freelance photography with no success but this experience has given me a big boost. I'm now working on getting back into wedding photography…it's all really helped my confidence."



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