Sign up for our newsletter

Latest news

Roundtable on adult volunteering highlights need for more volunteers, as waiting lists in London number thousands

Roundtable on adult volunteering highlights need for more volunteers, as waiting lists in London number thousands

31st May 2017

Uniformed youth organisations have waiting lists of at least 5,000 young people in London, it has emerged this month during a roundtable discussion on adult volunteering.

Step Up To Serve, in collaboration with Team London, organised on 12 May a roundtable on employee volunteering in uniformed youth organisations. The overall aim of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas on how to increase youth social action through adult involvement in their organisations.

The need for a comprehensive conversation on how to boost up adult volunteer numbers, so that young people can have the opportunity to join uniformed youth groups, arose due to a combination of factors. Leaders retiring, volunteers moving on, a limited number of new leaders coming forward to plug in the gaps and misconceptions about commitment or the type of people wanted are common reasons across Youth United Network organisations. Support from volunteers is also needed for other things like recruitment, delivery of skilled-based sessions, training and bookkeeping.

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, the average time people aged 25 - 34 spend volunteering has considerably declined in recent years, from 15 minutes a day, to 6 minutes a day.  Over-65s too have been affected by this trend – they now commit only 13 minutes a day volunteering, as compared to 19 minutes in 2000. Overall, people volunteer less, and the time spent volunteering had dropped by 7% since 2012 (Third Sector Research Centre, 2017).

For this reason, uniformed youth organisations have been hard pressed to find adult volunteers either to cover gaps in existing groups or to start new units. At the moment, more than 5,000 people have been placed on waiting lists in all London boroughs, although the number of young people not yet on waiting lists, who would otherwise like to join, is unknown. Should adult volunteers decide to come forward and take charge of uniformed youth groups, organisations feel they could double the number of young people joining in the next 12 months, to 10,000.

Uniformed youth organisations are willing to try different models to enable more volunteers to be involved. For example, the Scout Association is offering adults the chance to be Scout group leaders, or fill in administrative or trustee positions. Similarly, The Boys’ Brigade are looking to hear from people who could donate time by working on a weekly, monthly or even rota basis.

Highlighting the double benefit volunteering has on individuals, here is what some of our Network’s adult volunteers are saying right now about their experience:

The Girls’ Brigade Team Leader Jane Smith: “Working with the girls each week is a real pleasure. Knowing they’re having fun and enjoying themselves and seeing them grow up, both physically and spiritually, makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile.”

Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade volunteer, Edna Terret: “My pleasure has been in seeing so many young people grow and develop into successful adults who have then in turn actively given."

Girlguiding Leader-in-Training Humera: “The more I volunteered, the more I enjoyed myself and the more confident I became.”