Communications News: Russell appeal aims to boost youth volunteers

The Russell Commission has produced a set of youth-focused postcards in an attempt to entice young people to respond to its consultation on a strategy to boost youth volunteering.

The set of five postcards was sent to students and youth groups across the UK last week. After months of consultation within the charity sector, the mail-out represents the first time the body has tried to use the language of its youth audience.

Recipients of the postcards are told "you're a star, you are" and are offered the chance to win a free Ipod music player. They go on: "We reckon young people want the juice that volunteering can provide ... (Cue fanfare). Enter the Russell Commission (an official government commission, no less - ooer - so there's real clout behind our ideas)."

The cards suggest various options for the new strategy, such as "an uber-cool volunteering loyalty card", voucher incentives, an Amazon-style website with reviews of volunteering opportunities, and volunteering expenses.

Each postcard reads: "These are just ideas, they ain't law - yet!"

The cards were devised by the Home Office-backed Russell Commission after its 20-strong young people's advisory group of 16-25-year-old volunteers decided the A4 consultation document sent to the professional volunteering sector wouldn't connect with their peers.

"They are different from what normally comes out of our sector," said Justin Davis-Smith, head of research at Volunteering England and a member of the commission's professional advisory group.

"If they were produced by volunteering sector professionals such as myself they wouldn't have looked like that or had that tone."

A parallel consultation will also run at www.russellmission.com. Recipients will have 12 weeks to return the cards in the post.

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