Young people are important role-players in the process of building and sustaining a vibrant caring nation. Their creativity, dynamism and motivation inspire them to be part of the transformational process. Involving young people can therefore be hugely beneficial to your organisation.
Furthermore, there are many needs in South Africa that must be met but often the available resources are limited. There is, however, a high rate of unemployment and an extensive supply of people who could volunteer their time and who could in return gain work experience. It is useful to explore the advantage of using youth volunteers as this will help staff members to complete their work and have more time available to provide a broader range of services and activities.
Youth volunteers can be an asset to your organisation for some or all the following reasons:
- They bring fresh ideas and are resourceful and capable of creating simple but doable activities that will make the programme more appealing amongst youth and community.
- They are able to pursue new projects or improve the quality and reach of service the organisation already offers.
- They are an excellent link between the organisation and the community - they can provide valuable insights about how the organisation is seen by the community and in turn they can explain to the community members how the organisation works.
- they can be very effective in raising community awareness around many important issues such as fighting against domestic violence, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, gender inequality, teenage pregnancy, and environmental challenges, especially amongst other young people.
- They can influence and mobilise their peer group to support them when organizing events and programmes.
- They have their own networks from which more volunteers can be drawn, or information shared about the work of your organisation, or the specific needs that you may have. With the help of social media, young people are full-time communicators!
- They are often able to add greater legitimacy to the organisation's work and activities.
If your organisation has never hosted a youth volunteer before, there may be concerns about how to do this. or about whether the volunteers will add value to your work. It is important that all the existing employees of the organisation are aware that there may be volunteers coming in, and that uncomfortable about the volunteers or feel threatened by their presence in the organisation.
The following questions are useful for the organisation to reflect on when deciding whether or not to host a youth volunteer:
- What is the added value that youth volunteers could bring to the organisation?
- What are the benefits that youth volunteers have brought to this organisation?