We're really excited to announce that we'll be supporting this year's Duke of Edinburgh's Award students with their volunteering placements, and supporting organisations to welcome them.
Getting into volunteering at a young age can lead to a lifelong interest in engaging with the community, so welcoming a student to your organisation could have a really postive impact. The benefits in return can be huge - young people are a great resource, bringing energy and new ideas. If you don't already work with young volunteers, you may need to do some preparation, so here's some useful information to get you started.
Think about what the volunteer might be able to do. While tasks should be simple, young people get bored easily. Most relish the opportunity to be change makers. Maybe they could redesign a system or carry out a survey for you? With a little bit of training and support, the sky’s the limit!
Most young people would prefer to volunteer alongside a friend. If you can welcome more than one volunteer, you may get more interest.
Our handy CHECKLIST details all the policies and procedures you will need in place.We know you’re very busy and some of this may seem complicated. The Spark Somerset staff are here for you!
About the Duke of Edinburgh award:
There are three Award levels:
Bronze - for those in Year 9 or above (aged 13+ years)
Silver - for those in Year 10 or above
Gold - for those aged 16+ years
Activities for each DofE section take a minimum of one hour a week over a set period. All awards have 4 sections:
- Volunteering section
- Physical section
- Skills section
Gold participants also need to complete a residential.
For the Bronze Award, each section should be undertaken for 3 months (and 1 section for 6 months); Silver sections for 6 months (and 1 section for 9 months); Gold sections for 12 months (and one section for 18 months). These timescales are slightly shorter if young people have already completed another level of the Award.
The organisation supporting the young person (such as their school, Scouts group or college) and the young person should ensure the volunteer placements meets the criteria of the scheme before they start volunteering. Key criteria include being in a charity or not for profit organisation. You can choose to be a DofE Authorised Activities Provider (AAP) through a licencing system, and this allows you to advertise on their website. This incurs a small one-off cost, however, you do not need to do this to provide volunteer opportunities.
You can also advertise opportunities on the Spark Somerset VOLUNTEERING PAGE. Be sure to include Duke of Edinburgh in the title, so it’s easy for young people to find.
The main thing you will be asked to do at the end of a volunteer experience is write a brief Assessor’s Report. DofE ask that these are specific to the young person, give some details of what the young person has done, and gives start and finish dates. You can do this in the young person’s DofE book or online. More information is available HERE.
Volunteers under 18 (especially those under 16) may not automatically be covered by your insurance. You will need to double check whether this is case.
In some, but not all, situations it will be necessary for adults working with young volunteers to have DBS checks. For more information, this COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE is helpful.
Or contact Spark Somerset's DBS Officer, Denise Timmins via DBS@SPARKSOMERSET.ORG.UK. We are a Registered Body with the DBS and can carry out checks on your behalf. We have many years’ experience with DBS and we can take away the hassle for you with our friendly 1-2-1 service. Find out more HERE.
Policies and Procedures
You probably already have a shelf full with policies and procedures, it's a good idea to make sure that staff or volunteers supervising young volunteers are familiar with the following:
- Safeguarding/Child Protection
- Health and Safety
- Equality and Diversity
A young volunteer probably won’t have experience of the tasks involved in volunteering for you and may not be used to assessing risk for themselves. To keep them and other volunteers safe, it may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment.
If a significant risk of harm remains after you have taken reasonable steps to avoid it, the young person shouldn’t carry out the activity in question.
Parents should be made aware of the risk assessment.
More detailed guidance available HERE
Communicating with parents
If a volunteer is under 16 years old, you should get parental consent for them to volunteer (sample form available HERE). It can be harder to get consent for 16-18 year olds, but you should encourage them to tell their parents what they’re doing and when.
Parents may also like to see a written role description and some information about what your organisation does. If the volunteer will be working away from the place where they usually volunteer, it is worth seeking additional permission.
Make sure you have emergency contact details. These can also come in handy if a young volunteer fails to turn up.
When using photos of young volunteers for publicity purposes you need to obtain their permission and, if they are under 16, the permission of their parent/guardian to use them.
If a young person is living independently of parents or social services, they may provide their own consent.
Young people have the same rights as adults over their personal data. However, those under thirteen will need parental consent for holding and using their personal information. We advise that both young person and parent/guardian sign a volunteering agreement that includes a statement about personal data.
Privacy notices should be clear and written in plain English
If you need help with GDPR please GET IN TOUCH. We’re happy to help.
If young people are relying on public transport to reach a volunteering opportunity, it can be very expensive for them. If your organisation can afford to do so, it is worth considering reimbursing young volunteers for travel costs. Make sure that a record is kept of any money that you give to them.
Somerset County Council Work Permits
Somerset County Council has introduced a new work permit for under 16's coming into your organisation, on a voluntary or paid for basis in some circumstances.
But don't panic! This is only in very specific circumstances- please don’t be put off involving young people in your organisation. Here is the guidance that we have received from Somerset County Council:
- A young person volunteering for a charity does not need a work permit, unless the volunteering includes fundraising activity (such as working in a charity shop). It may be easier to consider if the volunteering is for direct service provision (no permit needed) or the charity’s financial gain (work permit needed).
- If a young person who is volunteering does not need a work permit, a risk assessment should be carried out, covering the safeguarding of young people that are volunteering.
- Any volunteering must adhere to the laws that govern employment of children, if the volunteering meets the description of employment as described above (i.e. for a for-profit organisation or charity’s financial gain).
This advice is derived from the SCC bylaws: HTTP://WWW.SOMERSET.GOV.UK/EASYSITEWEB/GATEWAYLINK.ASPX?ALID=41724
Applying for a work permit only takes a few minutes and should be done here:
If you have any questions, please contact Somerset Education Safeguarding Team:
For support from Spark regarding this, EMAIL US.
When your young volunteer starts, bear in mind that they may not have any experience of the workplace and may not feel confident enough to ask questions. Your induction could include:
- What the organisation does
- Practical Information, such as:
Where are the toilets?
What time do I need to be here?
What happens if I have an accident?
Where do I make a drink?
Who do I contact if I can’t come in?
Your volunteer will need to know not just who will be responsible for supervising them, but who else is in the organisation and what they do.Think about who your volunteer will come in to contact with whilst they are volunteering and make introductions as appropriate.
Behaviour and conduct, including confidentiality where appropriate.
Use of phones and social media.
- A Volunteer Pack:
It is a good idea for young volunteers to be given a small volunteer information pack but bear in mind that paper often gets lost. Encourage them to put any important names and contact numbers straight into their mobile.
Supporting your volunteer in their role:
Make sure that you plan regular catch ups to check on how the young person is getting on. They may not feel confident enough to ask for help and voice concerns while they are actually volunteering.
You can also use these chats to encourage volunteers to think about the skills that they are developing and how they might record them on their CV. A young person may not see this as valuable at the time, but they will when it comes to applying for jobs and further education!
Sadly, it’s unlikely that your young volunteer will stay forever. Make it easy for them to leave as they progress on to other things. If possible, plan for them leaving and take time to thank them for their contributions. Offer to act as a referee.
Please get in touch if you’re not sure about anything:
Helen Fielden, Volunteer Development Officer, 07535 800944, HELEN.FIELDEN@SPARKSOMERSET.ORG.UK