Rallying young volunteers to the cause

It is no secret that volunteering is a good thing, especially when you’re in college, university, or have spare time and are looking to boost your CV. However, currently not enough young people volunteer. Here at Sustrans the average age for volunteers is 42.

Magdalena Paczocha, a recent volunteer for sustrans shares her experience in her special guest blog post:

There are a number of barriers for young volunteers. For example, I have discovered that it is challenging to obtain a good grade at A level and have a life outside of college*. You could say that young people don’t have time to volunteer, or that they struggle to find an organisation to volunteer for in the first place.

This leads us to another problem, the availability of information about how and where to volunteer. Unfortunately, websites that promote such actions are not often shared on Facebook and accounts of charities are not followed on Twitter, where the younger generation spend a lot of their time online.

The lack of youth in Sustrans (as well as many other charities) is particularly unbelievable. Who doesn’t want to encourage healthier and safer roads for everyone? Currently, only 13% of Sustrans volunteers are people under the age of 25. This, amongst other issues, may even cause problems for all the youth around the UK, simply because we are not being adequately represented in organisations.

Generally speaking Sustrans’ volunteering opportunities are only available to over 18s. However, young people between the ages of 16 and 18 may be recruited as Sustrans volunteers where project staff or a partner organisation are able to provide the necessary level of support and supervision to ensure their health, safety and well-being. Sustrans will also work in partnership with younger volunteers under the age of 16 where they are supervised by an appropriate third party such as their parent/ guardian, school staff, or youth leader. School children under the age of 16 who apply for structured work experience placements are exempt.

It is difficult for Sustrans to improve our roads and create a safer environment for all if they have little input from the younger generation. As future road users, what do young people want from our transport system? Presently the majority of ideas and suggestions of our older population are taken into account, which might be different from a youth’s point of view.

Is Sustrans only for cyclists?

I feel that the main reason stopping young people from volunteering for Sustrans is its image of being ‘cyclists only’. Let me tell you, Sustrans is much more than that!

Sustrans is a charity that promotes a safer and cleaner environment, for example, reducing car use and boosting public transport as well as walking, which means cycling is only a piece of the whole picture.

There is so much to gain from volunteering for Sustrans.

81% of respondents of Sustrans 2012 volunteers’ survey said they had gained new skills by volunteering for Sustrans and 20% said that volunteering had helped them to find, or to apply for new work and employment.

This evidence speaks for itself. Young people should volunteer for Sustrans because it can give you a real edge over the competition when applying for jobs, whilst supporting a cause you care about.

It is crucial that Sustrans get young people volunteering. There is a place for each and every one of us, with whatever experience you may have, personal talents or hobbies! You could be a film maker, events volunteer, office volunteer and much more!

To get involved and create the start of something brilliant, find out more about volunteering for Sustrans