“Where better to be on International Youth Day than at one of Canterbury’s tertiary education sites, Lincoln University”, Outreach Manager at Volunteering Canterbury said, as she looked around the community organisations attending the Student Volunteer Expo and the students who were engaging with them.
The last fortnight has seen us at the University of Canterbury where we have been partnering annually to facilitate an expo specifically to introduce community organisations seeking volunteers to Canterbury students, Ara Institute, and today at Lincoln University. Are students interested in volunteering? It can be disappointing when we hear statements about concern over young people’s lack of involvement in volunteering . “This simply is not what we are seeing”, Glenda said.
Volunteer Centres across the country meet online once a fortnight and the trend that is showing is that the opposite is the case … there is real growth in our young people getting involved in their communities through volunteering. “Obviously, there are specific challenges for our younger people,” she continued. Study requirements, transport and roles which often are available during ‘normal working hours’ simply often do not lend themselves to our young people. However, that said, the interest from this group of our community is strong. This year, Volunteering Canterbury has facilitated projects by intermediate age and tertiary students, and also sports teams, including U13 and U15 Football teams. Volunteering Canterbury’s member organisations also appreciate the help of these young people.
Feedback from the teacher of one of these groups of intermediate aged students was: “The trip to Richmond Community Gardens was very successful. The students are still buzzing today .” The roles they take on are all varied. “Providing a diverse range of projects or roles is one which at Volunteering Canterbury, with its over 30 years of experience, is made easier by the diversity within our approximately 300 member organisations.” Not every role will suit everybody, so that diversity is important. “For our young people, in particular, we understand that a good ‘early’ volunteer experience will most likely result in a continued interest in volunteering. And that’s what we need”. Roles must be worthwhile, of interest and, where possible, fit the motivation of the volunteer – and that doesn’t matter what age the volunteer! Today’s young people want to make an impact, they want to make a difference … and Volunteering Canterbury is helping them to do just that.
As well as putting projects together, Volunteering Canterbury also talks to student groups. Some of these opportunities are organised by staff, while others are organised by student groups themselves - they want to get involved. Volunteering Canterbury is making that happen.
For more information, contact Glenda Martin, Outreach Manager, Volunteering Canterbury, ph: 03 366 2442, email email@example.com