It is only Tuesday, and already the internet is awash with #VolunteersWeek joy. Stories of lives transformed, friendships made, skills learned. And things are only going to get better, as today marks #iwill campaign’s ‘Share Your Pledge Day’ – an annual celebration of all the commitments made by the 800+ partners of the campaign to support youth social action.
Pears Foundation’s pledge to support the campaign, both as a core funder of the brilliant team at Step Up to Serve and as an #iwill Fund match funder, has become a significant focus for the Foundation. As a funder that works primarily through long-term, core funding partnerships, the chance to invest additional, time-limited resource through the #iwill fund has challenged us to identify organisations that have the opportunity to embed youth social action within their existing structures, specifically in the health and education sectors.
Over the past year, our work to build offers for young volunteers in health and social care has focused on reducing the volunteering age in NHS Trusts. Building on the great work of Nesta’s ‘Helping in Hospitals’ programme, we have identified hospitals that have no, or very limited experience, of engaging with volunteers under the age of 18, and supported them to reach out to young people in their communities. By changing internal processes and cultures, brokering partnerships with local schools and colleges, and devising appropriate role descriptions and support structures, these sites are embedding opportunities for young people into their core volunteer services.
We are now precisely one month away from the official 70th Birthday of the NHS on 5th July 2018, and we have over 15 NHS Trusts from across England engaged in the programme, with more being added this week. We are hugely grateful to the team at Step Up to Serve, as well as great colleagues at NHS England and NHS Improvement, who have been so supportive of placing young people at the heart of the anniversary celebrations.
A current list of NHS Trusts involved is available here, along with details of how to apply if you’re interested in getting involved.