Volunteering for Young People:

As a young person, taking part in volunteering can be a fantastic experience. The pages you can access through the links below should help you to find out about ways you can get involved in voluntary work and how it can benefit you, as well as your family, friends and community!

What is Volunteering?:

The great thing about volunteer work is that you can do so many different things depending on your skills, interests and ambitions (for ideas see finding a volunteer placement). The only things we look for are that:

  • You are doing the work out of your own free will (no one is making you do it!)
  • You aren’t being paid or receiving benefits for your work (apart from travel expenses or a bit of free food here and there!)
  • The work you are doing is benefiting the wider community (people beyond yourself, your friends and your family)

If you think these three conditions are met by the work you are doing or planning to do, it is probably volunteering and you could be eligible for benefits such as Saltire Awards.

Benefits of volunteering as a young person:

Volunteering can be a really beneficial project at any time in your life, but has particular rewards when you are young. For example it can:

  • Help you to make a positive influence in your community
  • Help you to learn new skills or develop your current skills
  • Give you space to build confidence and self-esteem
  • Give you opportunities to meet new people and make new friends
  • Help reduce negative stereotypes about young people that you might encounter in your community
  • Allow you to explore different careers and find out what you do and don’t like doing in terms of future jobs
  • Help you to build your (CV, Personal Statements and University/College Applications )
  • Most importantly, be a fun and rewarding use of your time!

Bear in mind that volunteering doesn’t have to be a massive time-commitment. Even if you only have a little bit of time every week or month, you could feel a huge benefit from using that time to help those around you through a voluntary position!

Saltire Awards:

Saltire Awards are national awards set up to formally recognise the massive amount of time, energy, enthusiasm and skill that young people in Scotland are putting into volunteering every single day! You can read up on these at the Saltire website, and sign up here.

In East and Central Sutherland, Saltire Awards are handled by us here at Voluntary Groups – East Sutherland, so you can contact us with any problems and we’ll do our best to help out. When you submit a request for a Saltire Award, we’ll get in touch with the person/organisation you volunteer with (don’t worry: it’s just to check that you’ve done the hours) so make sure we have accurate, up-to-date contact details to avoid delays in processing awards.

If you’d rather sign up with a paper form, you can find it here and send it in to us at the office. You’ll also need to fill in a timesheet and have it signed by someone who can confirm the hours that you’ve done, you can find that here too.

Saltire Awards are a great way of showing the work you’ve done, both to your family, friends and community and to future employers/universities, who are always looking for young people to have achieved things above, beyond and outwith their school education.

Through Saltire, you can also get access to loads of rewards and experiences thanks to Young Scot Rewards. Every time you gain a new certificate, you’ll be given a voucher that you can redeem on the Young Scot website!

Volunteering and CVs, Applications, Personal Statements:

Showing that you’ve done voluntary work says a lot about you as a person: it shows that you are motivated, committed and are willing to give your time to help other people. These ‘transferable skills’, alongside the specific skills you’ve shown in your volunteer post(s), are great attributes to show off to potential employers or to university/college admissions departments! Usually you will talk about these things in a covering letter, application form or personal statement.

Below, you will find a list of skills, qualities and assets that might be associated with your voluntary post as well as a few examples of what you might say about volunteering in a personal statement or cover letter. Please note that not all of these will apply to every volunteer position, so think carefully about what your specific post says about you!

  • Commitment/Dedication
  • Enthusiasm/Motivation
  • Initiative
  • Responsibility
  • Reliability
  • Leadership
  • Organisation/Good time management
  • Teamwork
  • Communication/People skills
  • Patience
  • Listening
  • Time-keeping
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Discipline
  • Post-specific skills: i.e. admin/filing, childcare/teaching, skills in sports, art, dance etc., computer and ICT skills, public speaking/presentations

Finding a Volunteer Placement:

The exciting thing about finding a volunteer placement is that there are SO MANY things you could do. The scary thing might be knowing where to start!

The best thing you can do to begin is have a think about what you enjoy, what you’re interested in and what you would like to achieve! If you have a particular skill or interest, you’ll probably be suited to a volunteer placement that uses that skill or furthers that interest. If you like working with children, for example, maybe you could volunteer at a local kids club? If you’re good at fixing bikes, maybe a local bike shop or cycling group would appreciate your time? It’s also worth thinking about what experiences or skills you might gain from volunteering… So if you’re looking at a career in nursing, maybe you could get a head start by volunteering in a local care home? If you want to be a PE teacher or sports coach, maybe you could help out with local teams or after school sports clubs?

Once you have an idea of what you might like to do (or even if you’re still a bit undecided!), you could try some of the following ways of seeing what might be available in your local area:

  • Ask at school – your teachers may well know about an opportunity in the area or could help you get in touch with someone who might. It’s also worth thinking about the clubs or groups your school already has, for example Interact Club, a school newspaper or music groups, sports teams or younger classes which might appreciate a coach or extra pair of hands!
  • Ask around friends/family to see if there are local clubs/groups who you could contact – for example, if you like children, maybe someone knows about a local kids club that’s looking for volunteers!
  • Check the Volunteer Scotland website where volunteering opportunities are published
  • Contact us at VG-ES and we will do our best to find you something that suits your needs!