A year ago we announced 32 funding awards that we hoped would change the face of volunteering in England.
One year on, as part of #iwillWeek, we thought it a good time to check in on some of these projects so see what impact our funding and their work has made.
Of the 32 awards made, 16 were from our Potentials Fund, which is designed to help 10-20-year-olds get involved in volunteering.
#iwillWeek celebrates the best of young volunteers through their youth social action, so we’re going to focus on the 16 projects that received a total of more than £2.1 million between them.
Funded projects included Girlguiding North West England, who have provided Young Leader members with the skills to deliver training sessions to other members about the benefits of sport-related volunteering in their local community.
Football Beyond Borders were another to receive National Lottery funding to enable them to use football as an engagement tool to support young people from low income backgrounds to re-engage with learning.
While Oxford-based group Student Hubs were given their award to place 440 university students, with little or no volunteering experience, into youth social action opportunities.
With the announcement of two more projects earlier this week, we’re going to take a deeper look at a few of last year’s award recipients and hear from those at the heart of the action.
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is a charity that was established in 2000.
Their project is using sport to support 540 10-14-year-olds from disadvantaged areas of Nottingham to build life skills, create and deliver social action projects and support their transition from primary to secondary school.
By training and upskilling a volunteer workforce in Nottingham, this project is creating tangible benefits for the community.
Young people, both school-aged pupils and Volunteer Leaders, are being given a voice, being empowered, and being given the opportunity to create projects that are benefitting their community through their own actions – as well as allowing them to build a behaviour of volunteering and social action that will last.
Working with University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent students, the project has seen these volunteers go out into schools in underprivileged areas of the city, mentoring and using sport and physical activity to help the pupils.
Final year Spanish and history student Karina Enrile got involved in the project after seeing an opportunity to help others, just as she had been helped as a child.
“We want to give them genuine advice and show them there are other ways in life,” said the 22-year-old from Essex. “It means a lot to me because I easily could have gone down the wrong path when I was young but I had a teacher who, thankfully, steered me right.
“I had a year abroad as part of my degree and when I got back I was looking for another volunteering role, something that was on campus or at least local.
“I saw this scheme and thought it was perfect for me, I had to apply.
“I’ve got a wide range of experiences, volunteering is something I enjoy doing anyway, it’s not just to put it on my CV.
“It has taught me about teamwork and has shown me the need for good volunteers. If you’re going to be a volunteer you have to be fully in it, you can’t be half-hearted because the people you’re working with will pick up on that.”
Volunteer It Yourself
Location: England, Nationwide
Volunteer It Yourself (ViY) combines volunteering and DIY by challenging young people, aged 14-24, to learn trade and building skills, on the job, by committing to fix youth club and community centre buildings in need of repair or improvement.
It was launched in 2011 and, when we made the award last year, more than 160 youth club buildings across England and Wales had been refurbished – involving more than 3,000 young people and more than 600 trade skills mentors.
Our funding allowed the project to expand its services to grassroots community sports clubs struggling with facilities in need of repair or improvement.
Over the three years that our National Lottery funding award will support, ViY are aiming to refurbish 15 sports clubs, involving more than 500 young people as volunteers.
Their core target audience is the unemployed, those not in education, employment or training (NEET), or those at risk of becoming NEET.
One of the projects completed in the first year of our funding has seen 119 young volunteers build new changing facilities at Croydon FC, supported by 40 mentors.
The mentors, many of whom are former tradespeople, taught the volunteers skills such as carpentry, tiling, plastering, painting and decorating, and mixing and laying concrete.
The project’s launch event took place this week, with 17-year-old volunteer Fernando Gonzalez making the most of the opportunity.
“I am happy I got involved in the project as it’s something that has helped me and also helped the community,” he said.
“I’ve learnt new skills and gained a City & Guilds qualification and the club has new changing rooms. For anyone thinking about volunteering I would say go and try it.
“You’ll gain new skills and feel great for doing something that also benefits other people.”
While carpentry mentor Alan Dalton, 38, felt a real sense of achievement after finishing the project.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “The young volunteers have been among the most committed I’ve ever seen on a Volunteer It Yourself project.
“We worked in all weather and not one learner complained. They should all be very proud.”
Leonard Cheshire Disability
Name of project: Can Do Sport
Location: Merseyside, London, Essex, Manchester and West Yorkshire
Leonard Cheshire Disability supports disabled people in the UK and around the world, helping them to fulfil their potential and live the lives they choose.
The Can Do Sport project has empowered young disabled people, aged 10-20, to be a catalyst for change in their local community through physical activity, social action and the teaching of new skills.
In the past year, students with learning disabilities and difficulties from Roots and Shoots College, London, took part in a sailing activity with Tideway Sailability.
The participants led an accessibility survey to promote sailing as a form of physical activity and were responsible for planning and implementing a community sail event.
At 20, Jannell Wilkie was one of the older participants and took more of a leader’s role.
“I am an outdoor person and like doing a lot of sports. As an intern at the college, I have been given leadership tasks. I want to help other people and to join in on new activities,” she said.
“It was helpful to get instruction on how to sail from the instructors. I felt more confident.
“I like working with different people. It was fun and a good experience. It would be good to have more sailing or other opportunities like this. I really enjoyed it and I’m sure others would too.”
While 17-year-old Edmond Nwamoh admitted it took a while before he found his sea legs.
“I was a bit nervous when I started because I have never done sailing before. I wanted to be more confident and I also wanted to work on my communication,” he said.
“The sailing instructors helped me, and it was interesting working with other Can Doers. I got more confident with practice and made some progress after each session.
“I would like to do more sailing in the future. If new Can Doers don’t know how to sail, they can observe me when I take them on the boat.”
British Blind Sport
Name of project: See My Voice
Location: Across England
British Blind Sport helps blind and partially sighted people get active and play sport.
The idea for the project was borne out of anecdotal research with many young visually impaired (VI) people saying to British Blind Sport that they felt frustrated and were often not ‘seen’ by people in authority, e.g. doctors or teachers, and felt that 'as they cannot see, others often do not hear them’.
They recruited a Young Leaders officer to drive their three-year programme ‘See My Voice’, which focuses on developing young (11-18 years) visually impaired people through a volunteering, mentoring and leadership programme.
The programme is empowering Young Leaders to volunteer in sporting roles, develop life skills, and enable them to share their opinions and experiences to shape the sporting landscape for VI people.
Northamptonshire’s Kian Saville is a VI swimmer with realistic ambitions to represent ParalympicsGB at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
However, he is also a Young Leader and has dedicated his time in 2018 to racking up 100 hours of volunteering – which has included qualifying as a timekeeper and also beginning his own para-swimming squad, with great success.
“I swim six times a week and am in the Swim England talent programme for Tokyo 2020 potentials, so I’m always training, but I wanted to see how I could help local communities a bit more through sport,” he said.
“I didn’t get much help when I first started out swimming because not a lot of people knew about the para side.
“But, experiencing it for myself, I can probably help people learn what to do if they are struggling.
“So I may only have one para-swimmer currently, who I’m helping to train, but they went to the Midlands regional gala recently, their first gala, and they won five gold medals.
“It was just amazing, with the smallest amount of help from me – passing on what I’ve learned from my own coaches – was a great experience and was great to give something back.
“I like to challenge people to their limits and if they come out fighting then you know something’s going well.”