Volunteers’ Week is a fantastic opportunity to thank volunteers and recognise the wonderful contribution they make to local and global communities.
NCVO figures indicate that more than 14million people volunteer at least once a month in the UK, for an average of 11.6 hours. That’s more than 162million hours per month channelled towards a huge diversity of worthy causes and initiatives.
But the beauty of volunteering is that the benefits go both ways. Research shows that volunteers are richly rewarded, whether it’s through a sense of personal fulfilment, social connections or skills development.
I have been privileged to witness first-hand the life-changing difference that volunteering has made to people involved in our social enterprise, Commercial Foundations.
We work with disadvantaged young people who have had a difficult start in life and missed out on the support and care that many of us take for granted. Some of them have been young carers, others have found themselves homeless or living in supported housing. We also work with young people who have been affected by physical or mental health issues, or problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Often, these factors can become interconnected, and it is hard for the young person to break out of the cycle.
A fresh start
Commercial Foundations empowers these young people to make a positive change in their lives.
Our 12-week NoLimits programme focuses on the development of a resilient, positive attitude as well as personal and professional skills. It also involves volunteering for one of the trading arms of the social enterprise. These include We Do. Print, a digital and 3D printing provider and We Do. IT, a business which refurbishes corporate IT equipment so it can re-enter the supply chain. The goal is to help individuals take an important step towards work-readiness via training and volunteering.
Many of the young people undergo a remarkable transformation. Once that seed of self-belief has been sown, we watch it take hold and flourish as they hone their emerging skills.
To date, 86 percent of the disadvantaged young people we’ve worked with have gone on to secure permanent paid work or further training. But their time spent volunteering doesn’t just change their lives. It also plays a big part in the earning potential of the social enterprise, which in turn keeps the cycle going so we can work with more young people like them.
During Volunteers' Week we’ll be recognising the courage, resilience and commitment of all our volunteers, past and present. As well as turning their own lives around, they have each made an enormous difference to other young people in challenging circumstances.
Find out more about Volunteers' Week at: http://volunteersweek.org/