Experiences of the Workplace

Volunteering/Social Action

What is Volunteering/Social Action?

Youth social action refers to activities that young people do to make a positive difference to others or the environment. There are lots of ways in which young people can take practical action to make a positive difference across a range of contexts and can mean formal or informal activities. These include volunteering, fundraising and campaigning.

As an employer, the Third Sector (covering charities, social enterprise, and NGOs) employs over 1.1m people in England and Wales in functions such as marketing, project management, fundraising, legal, finance, HR, research and outreach and operations managers as well as using volunteers.

As such, workplaces may be anywhere that the organisation operates, from offices and shops to outdoor spaces and regeneration areas to care facilities and schools.

How to Scale Volunteering and Social Action

Social Action and volunteering can be used for either large groups or individual students depending on the activity.  Typical experiences would be expected between one day and a number of weeks depending on the project/activity and may involve separate visits to different locations.

Benefits of Volunteering and Social Action for Young People

  • Potential to engage in a wide range of transferable, entrepreneurial business skills.
  • Exposure to a wide variety of roles within the Third Sector.
  • Develop EDI awareness and social responsibility.
  • Complementary to activities such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Benefits of Volunteering and Social Action for Schools 

  • Community engagement and benevolent activity.
  • Create greater relationships with local businesses to provide further opportunities for school talks, careers fairs, etc
  • Can engage large groups of students at the same time.
  • Encounters can be tied into curriculum for certain Humanities subjects and PHSE.

Benefits of Volunteering and Social Action for Hosts

  • Share your experiences with young people within your local area.
  • Raise awareness of causes and challenges for Third Sector across community.
  • Develop staff communication and ambassadorial skills.
  • Future talent or volunteering resource.

Potential Innovations of the Volunteering and Social Action Model

Some examples of Social Action projects include:

  • Working in partnerships with an employer to run a “clean-up” session at a local community centre.   Employees and young people come together to carry out an activity, followed by a debrief between employee volunteers and young people where they discuss skills and experience gained during the session.
  • Schools can work with national organisations such as the NHS in line with the NHS's plan to create more opportunities for young people.  The Pears Foundation runs a programme where youth volunteer coordinators and managers are working across England to develop high quality, inclusive opportunities for young people to engage with the NHS whilst developing their employability and life skills.
  • Alternatively, groups of young people in schools can come together to highlight a particular cause and work together with charity representatives in their workplace to develop fundraising programmes, raise awareness and create impact for their cause.
  • Further information on how Social Action can impact a school’s Gatsby Benchmarks can be found here: Youth Social Action Toolkit | The Careers and Enterprise Company.

Support for Businesses - volunteers planting a tree

Get Involved

If you are an employer, we would like to hear from you and find out what challenges you face in offering work experience opportunities for young people, and any ideas you have for offering new experiences of your workplace.

Complete Our Questionnaire on Barriers to Offering Workplace Experiences of Your Workplace

If you don't want to complete our questionnaire, you can sign up to find out more and/or attend our 'Virtual Experience of the Workplace Employer Briefing' (15 November 2023 at 4pm) below.

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*If you have completed the questionnaire there is no need to sign up as we will be in touch.

If you are a school and would like to get involved:

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Last updated on 27/09/2023