Free advice on offer to charities seeking more young volunteers

Indira Das-Gupta

Charities that want to recruit more young volunteers are being invited to free advice sessions organised by Volunteering England and the new Russell Commission implementation body.

The new charity will be officially launched on 8 May with a new name and a budget of up to £150m. Some of the names that are being considered include Spirit, V, Mustard and Inc. Its aim will be to help recruit a million new volunteers aged between 16 and 24 by 2010.

The advice sessions are called Ready, Steady, Go and are being co-ordinated by Volunteering England, with partner charities running separate events.

'Ready' refers to days for charities that are new to volunteering. These will be run by CSV and BTCV. 'Steady' is for organisations that are already engaged with youth volunteers but want to recruit more. These will include tips on how to improve your communications strategy from the Media Trust and advice on accreditation from UK Youth.

'Go' will be for charities that have well-established youth volunteering programmes and want to raise private sector finance to expand their programmes.

These will be hosted by Business in the Community and Business Community Connections.

The first events will be held in London from 19 to 21 April, followed by events for each sub-category at eight locations in England.

The categories are meant to act as a guide - charities can attend more than one day in each city. Organisations can take part in detailed group activities or one-to-one sessions. But what will distinguish the project is that young people in the target age group will help to do the evaluation.

Martin Farrell, consultant to the Russell Commission and director of Get2the-point, a consultancy that works with voluntary groups, said: "What matters is not how many people attend these events, but what they do with the information they acquire."

The evaluation teams will include young people who will work on both a voluntary and a paid basis. They will make follow-up contact with charities that attend the events to find out what steps they have taken as a result.

Farrell denied that the sector was failing in the recruitment of youth volunteers. "There's already some brilliant work taking place," he said.

"The Year of the Volunteer helped change the stereotype that volunteering is a middle class pursuit, but it won't happen overnight."

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