We recently received a letter from Seb Coe, Chairman of the London Organisation Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games, thanking us for our support of the Young Games Makers programme.
It was a really lovely gesture and made us feel incredibly proud of our involvment in the programme and excited for all the Young Games Makers ahead of London 2012!
In the letter, Seb Coe said:
“I wanted to write to you personally to thank you for all the work that vInspired has done in support of our Young Games Makers Programme…
“I strongly believe that our volunteers will make the difference between a good and great Games, and this would not have been made possible without the help of vInspired.
“I hope all of your volunteers have thoroughly enjoyed their involvement in the programme and are proud of the important contribution they have made.”
See the full letter from LOCOG .
As last night’s inspiring and emotional National Awards Ceremony came to a close, our CEO, Terry Ryall delivered a heartfelt speech.. It was addressed not only to those present – but all young people and people who care about and work with young people across the country.
Here is what Terry had to say, along with the video of the speech in full….
Thank you for making this the highlight of my year. Thank you for all the good work that you do for people in your communities.
To the young people here tonight – I have seen how you have set aside the things that trouble you and have turned your focus on the things that trouble other people.
And you want to do something about that. And my goodness do you do something about that.
Parents, friends, youth workers and supporters of these young people, you must be enormously proud of them – as I am. This is a representation of the best of this nation’s youth. It gives me confidence that everything’s going to be ok.
You’re learning through your voluntary efforts how to work with other people, how to create your own enterprises, how to empathise at a time when we need neighbourliness more than ever before. When we need to care for strangers more than ever before. When we need to look out for each other. When we need to be building enterprises to help our country recover from the situation it’s in now.
You guys have it all – and all you need is the opportunity to put it into action. And that’s what we’re here to help you do.
We’ve been working with 16 to 25 year olds for six years. We’ve created just about 1.2 million opportunities for young people to do good stuff in their communities.
We’re one of the few voluntary organisations that has actually invested in getting our social return on investment. We know what it is. For every £1 we spend on young people’s activities, we can guarantee a minimum of six pounds in return. There are very few investment opportunities of that type. But the thing that I’m most proud of is that we’ve reached all parts of our community. No group of young people is underrepresented in the young people we reach. And I’m personally very proud of that .
So tonight is a celebration and, of course, there are always winners. But there are no losers in this – everybody gains. And it is an absolute and real tribute to you for what you do.
You have inspired my organisation to extend its age range so that we are now reaching down as far as 11 year olds. Because we believe the earlier we can get people involved in their community, we hope it will become a life-long habit, and that they will be inspired by you.
And we will be extending our activity right across the UK as well. We couldn’t do that without the support of people like the ones you have seen on here tonight, who are willing to invest money, time, talent and effort in you. And I thank them all for doing that and I thank all the volunteer managers and youth workers, who have the understanding and the compassion to enable you to do what it is that you want to do.
Also, our Youth Advisory Board, who youth proof everything that we do. They were here at seven o’clock this morning unloading a lorry.
But that degree of involvement runs through everything that we do. Young people are at our heart and long may it continue that young people are at the heart of our country.
There’s no doubt about it – volunteering helps to develop new skills, make new contacts, and new friends. It’s a great way to make employers notice your CV. Here’s why volunteering is a real career kick-starter….
1. It boosts your confidence
Volunteering is a fun way of giving your confidence a big boost by trying new things. 92 per cent of young people who have volunteered through vInspired report they feel more confident as a result.
2. It builds employable skills
Volunteering improves core skills such as team work and communication, gives invaluable experience and makes connections with future employers. As a result, your CV and applications forms will stand out and show that you mean business – essential in the current job market.
3. You get a head start
Volunteering helps you get ahead in your career. Research shows that 72% of employers agree or strongly agree that volunteering can have a positive effect on an individual’s career progression.
3. It’s fun!
Aside from anything else, volunteering gives you a fantastic buzz and helps you decide what types of work you enjoy most. Volunteer in something you’re passionate about and you’ll get a lot more out of it. Not only that but it’s a great way to make new friends with people who share similar interests and aspirations
5. It’s a world of possibilities
Volunteering opportunities exist in almost every field of work – from working at film companies, to charities, events companies, or even abroad. Have a think about the kind of thing you want to do. Opportunities vary from one off, half-day things to virtually full time, 12 month activities. The list is almost endless. So what are you waiting for?!
In just 5 years, we’ve created over 1 million volunteering opportunities on vinspired.com, which can help you build valuable career skills. There’s going to be one just right for you. Simply enter your postcode and interests, and opportunities will appear straight away. Happy volunteering!
The Good Childhood Report 2012 published earlier this month by The Children’s Society, gives us rich food for thought. Perhaps not surprisingly it found that family is the most important factor in children’s well-being, particularly its harmony and stability. Having friends and the quality of peer relationships feature highly too, though to a lesser degree than relationships within the family.
Feeling safe both at home and at school are important to children’s well-being but around 7% reported not feeling safe at school. In fact those reporting regular and recent bullying by peers are six times as likely to have low well-being as those not bullied at all. On the issue of feeling safe, girls feel safer in rural areas than in urban ones.
Changes to household income were found to affect well-being, particularly in the poorest 20% of households. I welcome the news that most children are happy with their health and place importance on doing well at school. However, one must be concerned by the link between poverty and lower educational aspirations and expectations.
A real fascination of mine is body image in adolescence, so I was particularly struck by the results pertaining to children’s feelings about their appearance. No surprises really: negative feelings about appearance increase with age and more so for girls than boys.
As an advocate of youth-led activity and active listening to the young, the most striking, fundamental issue in the report for children’s quality of life is that related to choice, freedom and autonomy. A substantial minority (23%) feel they have very little choice, with 23% feeling that their views are not listened to locally. This also worsens with age. For those of us who work with the young: take heed and do more!
The Good Childhood Report set out what children need and how they can get it and I believe that volunteering can play a significant part in many respects. Especially on issues of self-esteem and confidence, relationships with others, opportunities for free play, access to the outdoors, feeling safe, experiencing care and caring and having plenty to do in the local area. Volunteers can provide opportunities for children to experience all of the above – and volunteering itself enables young people to experience these things for themselves.
Here at vInspired, opportunities for young people to be heard occur through programmes like vcashpoint and Team v; and we also link young people to many wider opportunities in the charity sector through our website, vinspired.com.
Of course there is little that can replace the fundamental of a stable and harmonious family. But we can most certainly supplement it and fill some of the gaps to give children the best possible present and future.
It is with huge pleasure that we congratulate the Chair of our Board, Rod Aldridge, on his knighthood.
Rod has been our Chair since our very inception, leading the transition from the Russell Commission Implementation Body to v, the independent youth volunteering charity. He guided us as we smashed our numeric target by 265%, engaged a very diverse group of young volunteers and achieved a social return on investment of between £6 and £12 for every £1 invested. His relentless commitment to young people is truly deserving of this honour.
His passion, drive, creativity and genuine determination to give young people the best start in life has been a great inspiration over the last six years – and in particular over the past year, during which our organisation has experienced a massive period of change.
At the end of one of the most difficult and disheartening years for young people in recent times, we cannot think of a more fitting time to recognise the achievements of a man who has done so much to inspire so many.
This morning I was at the Local Government Conference chaired by Cllr Stephen Alambritis who is Leader of the Council at London Borough of Merton. One of the most interesting speakers was David Frost CBE who is the new Chair of the National LEP (Local Enterprise Partnerships) Network. I learned some very interesting facts. Did you know that our population is growing by around half a million a year? Or, that the 27 miles that makes up the M6 toll road was 21 years in the making – 18 years in the planning system and 3 years in the build? Just a few of the things that local and central government are grappling with in terms of planning, housing, education and employment.
I asked him what he thought local government, and indeed central government should be doing to address youth unemployment given that the figure has now risen to more than a million. And, what role Local Enterprise Partnerships have in ensuring that all of that potential is not lost. He agreed that indeed this is now a huge issue and something huge needs to happen to address it. He also feels that educational institutions are a long way from reflecting the skills needs of local employers and this must be tackled. From the audience we had an example of a brand new college costing millions being built but the biggest employer in the area wasn’t consulted about their skills needs, never mind the SMEs!
Interestingly, David Frost said that we really need to turn our thinking about benefits on its head. No young person should get ‘benefits’ where possible. Instead, the money should be paid to employers as grants so that they can create employment opportunities for the young people but this would need to be supported by some changes in National Insurance. He also advocated the creation of a national force working on a national community programme: “we all see things in our communities that need doing” he said. He did not however, confine this to the young. I think his ideas are really worth thinking about and I like the idea itself of turning conventional thinking and current expectations on their heads and coming up with innovative responses to a very serious problem indeed. If systems and rules get in the way, then change the systems and rules. I’ll buy that. In fact I’m giving it some serious thought!
Organisations like vinspired will do what we can to build the skills of the young for work, develop their enterprise potential, broaden their horizons, expand their social capital and keep them optimistic and hopeful. But, I can’t help but feel that David Frost is right and this huge problem requires a huge and unified response. We cannot afford as a nation to have a generation of young people who feel hope-less.
The Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Day today (November 11th) gives us a great opportunity to think about how we, as a youth charity and part of the youth sector, ensure that young people are at the heart of everything we do.
Takeover Day fast tracks children and young people into decision-making positions in organisations across the country, giving them a taste of work life and a chance to have their voices heard. This is a great way to help build realistic aspirations and goals for young people, showing them what they can achieve and how they can achieve it.
Equally, the initiative can have enormous benefits for the organisations that participate. I’m proud that at vinspired, in many ways, every day is a Takeover Day. Our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is at the centre of all our work. They are a diverse group, representative of the young population of England – from different regions, at different stages in their lives and with varied experiences and backgrounds. They support us with decision making and implementation of everything from our organisational mission, to programme development and our marketing and communications. They bring energy, enthusiasm, creativity and a fresh perspective to everything we do.
But, more importantly, they help us to ensure that everything we do really keeps young people at the forefront of our activity. They know only too well what is affecting young people from their communities, how we can best serve them and how we can best communicate with them. We simply could not do our job properly without their insight and guidance. So, Takeover Day acts as a timely reminder to review our own practice and recognise the young for the value they bring but it is also a great opportunity to get more fresh eyes into the workplace.
The fact that youth unemployment figures have risen to an all-time high is no great surprise to us at v. Every day we hear of young people who are enthusiastic, energetic and doing great things for their communities, but who are struggling to find employment. We have helped more than a million young people to get into volunteering, giving them the skills and experience to stand out from the crowd in and ever more competitive job market.
There is an obvious lack of employment opportunities available to young people. Funding needs to be focused on new and varied routes to employment that keep young people active in this depressed labour market – including more support to build their own enterprises, and for those who want to use their skills in the voluntary and community sector. Young people will be the new generation of community and business leaders – they are the key to a strong society. Unless we can help them reach their true potential now, the long-term effects could be catastrophic.
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
12th August 2011
Dear Prime Minister
We are a group of leaders of national volunteering organisations who got together in the wake of the riots and public disorder in London and other cities. We want to extend our help to you over the coming weeks as the Government examines the causes of these disturbances and seeks ways to tackle them.
We know there will be many others with experience to offer. Our combined experience of working with young people and communities can feed in to the understanding of what may have caused these young people to take such extreme action and, crucially, what needs to be done to prevent it happening again.
We have experience of working on programmes with Government both at national and local level that have been proven to deliver effective solutions. We would like to work with you, your Ministers and officials to be part of the healing process, ensuring that young people can play their part in building stronger communities and helping the economic recovery.
The vast majority of young people, of course, were not involved and we have been seeking ways through social and other media to accentuate the good work that young people do on a daily basis in their communities, as well as in the clean-up. We are determined not to allow the disturbances to overshadow the positive contribution that so many young people make to our society.
Our partnership is poised to work with local communities to deliver solutions to rebuild pride in the places in which people live and work. We have a track record in providing robust evidence about the outcomes we achieve.
Through our existing activities we will in any case be working to identify and provide solutions to prevent a reoccurrence of the events of recent days. We are ready to work with you and your Government as you turn your attention to policies and practices to address as you said the pockets of society where these problems arose.
Dr Justin Davis Smith CBE
Chief Executive, Volunteering England
Chief Executive, BTCV
Chief Executive, CSV
Chief Executive, v
The criminal behaviour we have witnessed this week has been shocking and incredibly worrying. However, we must resist the temptation to make snap judgements about the whys and wherefores of the riots.
The first task is to restore public order. Once calm has returned, we must take time to think carefully about what may have caused these young people to take such extreme action and, crucially, what needs to be done to prevent it happening again.
Throughout this, we must remember that the vast majority of young people were not involved in the riots. Those who helped to clean up the mess far out-numbered those who caused it. We at v know thousands of young people who are working for the good of their communities every day. We cannot allow these events to overshadow the positive contribution that these and so many young people make to our society.”
This is the reaction of just a couple of young people who have been in touch with v:
“What people have been doing in the riots is making the public look down on us. We’re planning a social action project working with homeless people. By doing something good like that we hope we can change the way communities think of youth and build their good will.” – Richmond Amoah, who is on the NCS Summer of a Lifetime programme
“Perhaps if they felt a greater part of their community they would be less inclined to destroy it and the lives of others in that community because they’d realise the greater impact of their actions. If the destruction was directed towards their belongings and home, they’d feel upset too.” – Tasha Wharton, via v‘s Big Society’s Big Mouth forum