WORKSHOP: Case Study - TimeBank returns to school for help


Background: TimeBank works to raise awareness of volunteering and to inspire and involve new volunteers from different communities. Young people, especially those of school age, have traditionally volunteered less than other groups yet, according to TimeBank, have the most to gain.

Although TimeBank has communicated with young people as part of previous campaigns, it wanted to run a project designed specifically for a younger audience.

Aims: The charity wanted to launch a campaign that encouraged schoolchildren to create and manage community projects and commit more time to volunteering in their local communities. The basic aim was to get groups of young people together by forming clubs or launching projects around particular activities or issues such as the local environment.

"We believe strongly in a youth-led approach and the experiences of organisations such as Changemakers (the youth volunteering charity) demonstrate that if projects inspire young people to determine their own activities, they can be more effective," said James Edleston, youth project manager at TimeBank.

Wider objectives for the campaign also included getting more positive coverage of young people in the media and to open up job opportunities for school-leavers in the voluntary sector.

How it worked: TimeBank secured funding from the Active Community Unit to create and manage the Young TimeBank project which would initially launch as a pilot in 10 selected schools across the country. Two extra staff members were employed to work with teachers and students.

The charity created a software programme for loading on to a schools computer system, which could then be accessed by pupils through a central web site or via a CD-Rom. The programme allowed children to stipulate areas of interest such as sports or environment and then guided them through setting up a group or club. It also provided advise on how to secure funding, and how to promote and market a project.

TimeBank built up an advisory group of 50 young people in the participating schools who contributed to the design and development of all Young TimeBank materials. The creative element was particularly important, as it had to motivate and inspire young people to log on to try out the new computer programme.

The charity effectively handed over management of the project to the advisory group which took control over the campaign message, how it was promoted, the recruitment of teachers to manage the scheme, and the design of each school's software homepage.

Results: Following the success of the pilot project, TimeBank is planning to roll out the Young TimeBank scheme across the country by the end of this year.

So far an additional 150 students have become part of the advisory group and the charity claims that the programme has reached more than 1,000 young people across the country.

A variety of community clubs and groups have been formed as a result of the scheme, including a peace committee in north London that recently held a fundraising concert in Stoke Newington, which raised more than £1,000 for War Child. Other projects include a forum to tackle racism and a campaign for more nutritional school food.

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