At the #iwill campaign, the final day of volunteers’ week takes on an extra layer of importance, as we celebrate Share Your Pledge Day. This is an opportunity for our many partners and supporters to come together to celebrate and champion youth social action.
For those who aren’t familiar, the #iwill campaign is a UK-wide movement that aims to make involvement in meaningful social action opportunities (such as fundraising, volunteering, and campaigning) a natural part of everyday life for 10-20-year-olds by the year 2020. We aim to achieve this through a collective impact approach, working with organisations and structures across society to embed youth engagement in their culture and practice. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if, by 2020, every organisation naturally championed and empowered young people to get involved and give back? The campaign is currently supported by over 700 cross-sector partners and is growing by the day.
Currently, 4 in 10 young people participate in meaningful social action with those from less affluent communities significantly less likely to take part. At the campaign, we are aiming to raise that number to at least 6 in 10 and have a clear focus on closing the socio-economic gap in participation. As well as generating opportunities for all, the campaign aims to improve the quality of social action available to young people. We believe it should be youth-led, challenging, have social impact, allow progression to other opportunities, be embedded in a young person’s life and enable reflection about the value of the activity.
Transforming young people
As with all volunteering, youth social action creates a double benefit, strengthening communities and developing the skills and confidence of young participants. Social action transforms character and improves young people’s resilience, well-being, and employability. Through our annual youth social action survey, we’ve learned a great deal about young people’s participation since our launch in 2013. For example, young people who take part in social action have stronger personal networks and report higher life satisfaction rates. We also know that schools are the most common route into social action for young people and that the most common reason young people give for not taking part is that they didn’t realise they could or don’t know how.
One of the most striking insights for me is that young people who first engaged in youth social action at ages 10, 11 or 12 are most likely to be committed to giving back and see it as a part of who they are. We spend a lot of time at the campaign considering how we can make social action a habit for life and this really shows how much of a difference we could make by engaging young people early and seeing them as key stakeholders in society. Through working together to achieve the campaign goals, we could transform volunteering and giving across the UK, developing a new generation of engaged, compassionate citizens.
If you engage young people in your work, we would love to hear your stories. You can get involved in the Share Your Pledge Day conversation by using the hashtag #iwillPledge and tag us at @iwill_campaign. If your organisation hasn’t yet pledged, we would love to explore how you could get involved; more details of our current pledges and how to develop your own can be found on our website.