6 Youth volunteering and the National
Citizen Service |
Volunteering by young people
111. The National Youth Agency told us that 26%
of young people were engaged in volunteering at any one time,
and 52% reported that they had volunteered at some point between
the ages of 13 and 18.
This was reflected in evidence from young people, whose enthusiasm
was palpable. Our online forum asked young people whether they
volunteered and what activities they volunteered for. The most
common activities listed in the 65 posts responding to the question
were: volunteering in a hospital, hospice or care home, for the
Scouts or Beavers, tutoring younger children, working in charity
shops, sports coaching, volunteering on a farm or in conservation,
for the Red Cross or St John's Ambulance, at a youth club or with
a local youth council or youth parliament. Many of the young people
described the great sense of satisfaction or reward that they
received from volunteering. Others considered it to be useful
for their future career or CV, but all praised the enjoyment and
fun they got from volunteering. Box 2 contains a selection of
posts from the forum.
|BOX 2: YOUNG PEOPLE'S VOLUNTEERING
I volunteer in a school (I tutor year sevens in maths) ... I love how my maths child has really grown confident with her sums - Purple Ninja
I volunteer by coaching basketball for kids aged 6-10. I do it partly because it looks good on CVs and applications and partly because I think it's good for children to participate in sports - The Grandmaster
I volunteer with Action for Blind people, working with blind and visually impaired children ... There's a sense of achievement and motivation in working with vulnerable people - Annora
I volunteer on the surgical ward of a local hospital. This teaches me a lot about my intended career as a Doctor, as well as giving me a sense of satisfaction at helping others who are in need - Cityshy
I volunteer at t local wildlife hospital. I do it because I think they do good work and can't run without help from volunteers like me. Also its fun - imomo16
I volunteer at an Oxfam bookshop and a museum. I do it because I enjoy it and I'm unemployed so it keeps me busy and gives me something positive to fill the gaps on my CV - Norfolkadam
I volunteer as a leader with Beaver Scouts and have done so for the past 3 and a half years, starting off as a Young Leader, and I'm starting my training as an official adult leader now - beth103
I volunteer with my local church group regenerating older disused parts of our town back into usable community spaces its very good - TyrannosaurusBex
I volunteer at a center involving care for the elderly with dementia and also for St John's Ambulance. I initially started volunteering because I want to do Medicine, but now I would continue with both even if I don't need to - Evanesyne
As a young person I volunteer as a member of Colchester Youth Council ... We organise events and information to help people get their voices heard and give them vital information about their life - largey-small
112. Successive administrations have introduced
new youth volunteering programmes, from Millennium Volunteers,
to V, to the current Government's embryonic National Citizen Service.
Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, told
us that "the reality is that there is an incredibly rich
infrastructure of pre-existing organisations that promote, develop
and enable young people to volunteer".
Vthe National Young Volunteers' Servicewas established
in 2006 and is currently the lead national organisation for youth
volunteering. Terry Ryall, its Chief Executive, explained that
V's task had been to "develop a national service for young
volunteers", with a team of specialists located in voluntary
organisations covering every local authority area in the country
whose job was to build the capacity of organisations to take volunteers.
It had engaged 730,000 young people in 1,140,000 volunteering
opportunities over a four year period through 'v involved', its
national youth volunteering programme which brokered volunteering
opportunities between young people and organisations. Volunteering
opportunities ranged from short-term and part-time, to full-time
activities. As well as a range of shorter-term volunteering projects
and funds for young people, 
V ran a 'v talent year', a full-time volunteering programme which
put 2,400 young people aged 16-25 over two years into structured
placements in areas such as nursery education, play, youth work
and supporter learning for 44 weeks. The programme cost £14.7
million per year.
Mohammed Ahmed, who completed the 'vtalent year' described its
impact on him:
I gained a lotfirst of all confidence. I started
at 14. I was quite a shy boyshaky, nervousbut when
I got involved I learned that there are no barriers to anything.
You can overcome things. First, it has helped my education, because
it has given me confidence and self-esteem. When I come across
a challenge in my education, I think "I can overcome this,
because volunteering has taught me this". It has given me
the edge to participate in class discussions ... I have also got
good life chances. I come from a very low-income background, but
now the door's open for me. I am now a trustee of v, which is
a big, impressive thing on a CV.
An evaluation of the programme in 2010 found that
26% of those completing the programme in 2010 progressed to employment,
48% went on to further or higher education and 15% took up further
volunteering placements. Given that a minimum of 40% of places
on the programme are given to young people not in employment,
education or training, these rates point to a successful programme.
113. In addition, in 2009 the organisation established
the 'v schools' programme, providing both personal and online
resources to promote community action for 14-16 year olds through
schools. V told us that 'v schools' had been part of the Youth
Community Action programme set up to implement the then Prime
Minister's aim for every young person to have contributed 50 hours
of community service by the age of 19, that it was "really
welcomed by schools" and it was "a lost opportunity
to embed a culture of giving and service at an age younger than
16 ... it would have been an excellent 'feeder' programme for
National Citizen Service (NCS), preparing young people for the
challenges of the personal development and social-mixing programme".
The scheme was closed in 2010 when the Government ended the Youth
Community Action programme. Terry Ryall described the closure
of 'vschools' as "a matter of regret".
V's budget has been enormously reduced, from £114 million
over three years to £4 million over the next four years,
which Ms Ryall described as "quite dramatic".
An independent evaluation is currently being conducted to evaluate
the impact that V has had on youth volunteering.
114. Germany has two well-established year-long
youth volunteering programmes under which some 35,000 young people
between the ages of 16 and 27 volunteer each year to gain work
experience in a local public service: the so-called Voluntary
Social Year and Voluntary Ecological Year. These programmes are
supported by the federal government to the tune of 49 (£43)
million a yearan
average of 1400 or £1228 per headbut are administered
by the Länder (local government), which provide additional
funding. The federal government is establishing a new Federal
Social Voluntary Year in 2011, with an annual budget of 220
(£190) million. During our visit we spoke to several young
people participating in the current voluntary years, who told
us that the programme had helped them to get a place at university
and offered essential work experience for future jobs, as well
as offering careers advice and guidance.
Alongside the government-supported programmes, Germany had other
structured youth volunteering programmes, such as the Young Firefighters
of Berlin, who we also visited. In addition to the clear enjoyment
the young people gained from these activities, both the voluntary
years and the Young Firefighters programme had the benefit of
being excellent recruiters for public services.
Young people's democratic participation
115. In addition to volunteering programmes,
many young people take up positions of leadership or democratic
responsibility in order to have a voice in local or national forums,
for example becoming Young Mayors, participating in Youth Councils
at a local level or the UK Youth Parliament nationally. The British
Youth Council told us that "up to 19,800 young people, mostly
aged between 11 and 17, already volunteer their time to represent
young people as youth councillors, informing and influencing local
decision-making" and that "young people from a wide
range of backgrounds take part in local youth councils. A quarter
of youth councillors are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background
as opposed to 3.7% of adult Councillors. Half of youth councils
... involve young people from minority groups, for example lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender young people, young disabled people
or young people living on a low income".
Various contributors to our online forum told us that they were
youth councillors or members of the UK Youth Parliament.
116. The Minister, Tim Loughton MP, told us that
the Government wanted young people "through the various vehicles
that we have now, such as youth mayors, youth cabinets, the UK
Youth Parliament and youth councils, to be engaged actively in
every authority throughout the country, shaping policies as they
affect young people and the local environment".
He added that the Government had allocated "a further £350,000"
in the financial year 2011-12 to support youth democratic engagement,
and a further £500,000 for 2012-13.
It was his wish to have "in every authority in the country
a clearly identifiable, clearly accessible youth engagement body
that is able to hold the local authority and other local agencies
to scrutiny and that is able properly to engagenot just
117. We applaud those talented
young people who are engaging in positions of democratic responsibility
and leadership, and organisations like the British Youth Council
and UK Youth Parliament for enabling them to take up such roles.
We welcome the Government's support for democratic participation,
and urge it to translate into practice its ambition to have a
youth engagement body in every authority in the country which
plays an active role in shaping and scrutinising those policies
which affect young people.
National Citizen Service (NCS)
118. A central plankindeed, currently
the only articulated elementof the Government's youth policy
is the introduction of a National Citizen Service (NCS) for 16
Oginsky, Government Adviser on the National Citizen Service, explained
that it was "a flagship policy"
which offered "a framework which all youth organisations
can play a part in, either preparing young people for NCS or picking
them up afterwards, or contributing to NCS itself".
The Government's vision was that "eventually, as NCS grows,
it will become part of the culture of Britainsomething
that everyone will have done. In 10 or 15 years' time people will
be turning to each other and saying 'where did you do your National
The programme has been in development for several years. Mr Oginsky
explained that he had spent four or five years "going around
asking people what they think is important and how they think
NCS should be shaped",
and the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, that "it
is not something that just materialised on the eve of the election;
we thought about it for an extremely long time ... serious money
and time has been spent on development, so this is something we
have been cooking quite slowly and methodically".
119. Under the Government's proposals, National
Citizen Service will last seven to eight weeks over the summer
months, including at least ten days and nights on a residential
basis. The Government has outlined five distinct phases, as set
out in Box 3. The Minister for Civil Society explained that a
central aim of the programme was "about throwing kids together
who would not normally get a chance to meet each other ... we
attach huge importance to social cohesion".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families,
Tim Loughton MP, added that "National Citizen Service is
not actively discriminating but certainly actively promoting and
judging the value of the providers on the basis of how good they
are going to be at weeding out the difficult-to-access groupsthose
kids who have fallen foul of the youth justice system, those kids
with disabilities, those kids with BME backgrounds and so on",
suggesting that the scheme would be, at least in part, a targeted
120. Twelve organisations have been awarded contracts
to pilot the scheme in 2011 working with 11,000 young people.
The Office for Civil Society intends to expand this to 30,000
young people in 2012, and, over time, to extend the offer to all
600,000 or so 16-year olds.
|BOX 3: NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE PROGRAMME STRUCTURE
- Phase 1: An introductory phase in which expectations will be set and relationships built between participants and staff;
- Phase 2: A set of tasks, completed in a residential setting away from home, which are personally challenging (typically in the form of an outdoor challenge experience), and focused on personal and social development (one week);
- Phase 3: A set of structured tasks involving visiting and helping the local community and developing skills, again the aim is that this would be completed in a residential setting away from home (one week);
- Phase 4: Participants to design a social action task in consultation with the local community (one week);
- Phase 5 onwards:
- A period of 30 hours of social action on a part time basis;
- A fair/event to encourage participants to get involved in ongoing social action or volunteering activities in their area (with a view to creating an NCS alumni scheme);
- A large celebration and graduation event for participants and their guests;
- An alumni programme, including training sessions and reunion events, to build on the enthusiasm and relationships generated by NCS;
- We hope to be able to offer outstanding NCS graduates the opportunity to take part in a programme of social action projects in developing countries.
GOOD PRINCIPLE, BAD TIMING?
121. The principles of National Citizen Service and the Government's
commitment to a personal and social development programme with
social mixing and a rite of passage as its central aims were welcomed
by young people and professionals alike. However, we heard concerns
about the cost of the programme and practical difficulties relating
to its implementation. Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of UK Youth,
welcomed the scheme, saying "it is brilliant that one of
the Government's flagship things is about non-formal learning".
Mohammed Ahmed, a V volunteer, told us that "it's a good
thing, because anything that keeps young people off the streets
and gets them involved in communities should be commended. I am
concerned, however, that it shouldn't be a replacement for volunteering.
Volunteering is a separate thing that should be encouraged".
Young people posting on our online forum were broadly keen on
the idea but said that it would depend on activities being fun.
Several thought that young people who already volunteered or participated
in programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh award might be more likely
to sign up for National Citizen Service. Some young people responded
positively, but thought it unlikely that they would give up post-exam
holidays to participate. Rebecca Salawu, a Salmon Centre Young
Leader, told us in evidence "I couldn't see myself willingly
giving up my summer holidays for that" and Meg Hudson, a
Beaver Scout Leader, agreed: "at the age of 16 I wouldn't
give up three weeks of my holiday, because you've just done GCSEs
and had full-on school". 
Similar sentiments were aired on our online forum (see Box 4).
|BOX 4: YOUNG PEOPLE'S VIEWS ON NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE
Sixteen postings were made in response to the question, "Would a summer programme for 16 year olds leaving school interest you?". Most were positive, provided the programme offered engaging activities. Postings included:
It would only really be attractive if it would lead to better job prospects and was more interesting ... personally I think that a fully-funded programme where people can volunteer abroad for the summer (like Platform2) would be better - unknownrebalz
I'd take part as long as the project didn't solely involve repainting some community centre! - Fandabidoze!
This would have greatly interested me when I was 16 - Ultimate_Geek
As my summer holidays are usually for relaxing and having a good time, it would really depend on the volunteering activities involved - doyoulikewaffles?
I think that, depending on which activities are available, this would be quite a good idea which would be well used - Lornskii
I would love to take part! - Beth
I think there will be some interest in this, though it will mainly be those who already participate in other volunteering schemes like Duke of Edinburgh, the Guides etc who will benefit - harriepoppy
122. Mostly, witnesses were concerned that the
introduction of National Citizen Service, whatever its individual
merits, was inappropriate at a time when other youth services
were being cut. Liam Preston, Young Chair of the British Youth
Council, told us that he had surveyed 1,000 young people across
the country and found that they broadly liked the idea of NCS:
some 53% were in favour, 20% against and 27% did not know. However,
he warned, they were "concerned that their own youth services
are being cut ... their worry is 'what's going to be left for
me afterwards if everything in my local area is being cut?'".
Jason Stacey, Head of Policy, Media and Research at YMCA England,
said that whilst he would support the NCS, "it's not a replacement
for sustained and regular youth services in a particular area
... the fear is that the focus would be placed so much on the
NCS that other youth services would suffer as a result".
This concern was reflected in written evidence.
COST TO PARTICIPANTS
123. It appears that young people's participation
in NCS will not necessarily be free. Paul Oginsky told us that
whether to charge a participation fee and at what level was up
to individual providers, but that some providers were making nominal
charges of between £25 and £100 to secure a commitment
from young people.
He was himself sceptical about this, noting that "young people
make a commitment by signing up to a scheme that is meant to be
The Minister for Children and Families told us that, whilst "payment
should not be a barrier", he believed that "just offering
lots of free places, so that people sign up and perhaps do not
bother to turn up, is not an option". He emphasised, however,
that providers were looking at bursary schemes and that "the
charge is absolutely a technical matter; it is not a qualification".
we acknowledge that a nominal cost may ensure commitment on the
part of participants, we believe that the inevitable effect of
providers charging up to £100 for participation may well
be to deter young people from low income families.
FUNDING NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE
124. A total of £13 million has been set
aside by the Cabinet Office to fund NCS in 2011approximately
£1,182 per young person; and £37 million for 2012approximately
£1,233 per head. The Government has not set out how it intends
to fund NCS beyond the two pilot years of 2011 and 2012. We asked
the Minister to clarify the costs of National Citizen Service
post-2012, but he told us that those were as yet unclear, saying
that "it's very hard to be specific about that, because at
the moment we are testing models. For example, for the 11,000
places this year we deliberately didn't set a fixed price. We
wanted the market to come to us with a price. We had tremendous
The Government is, however, adamant that the programme is being
paid for by additional central funds, not from existing Department
for Education budgets. Paul Oginsky, Government Adviser on the
NCS, told the Committee that "the money has been secured
by the Cabinet Office from the Treasury, so it is additional money".
However, Mr Oginsky also said that "in future, the funding
will come to the Education Department, but only if we can show
the value of it",
and that "as part of the Government's philosophy they do
not want to fund this ad infinitum, indefinitely ... they have
said 'let's see everyone in society contribute'".
In a similar vein, the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP,
said that "we are also actively encouraging the local providers
to tap into local support, whether from businesses or other bodies
in the areas, and seek contributions in cash or in kind because
we want this to be a genuine partnership approach. But we have
the funding for the pilots".
125. Evidence from the Minister
for Civil Society and the Government Adviser on National Citizen
Service suggested to us that funding for the programme may not
continue to be ring-fenced beyond the pilots. Indeed, we found
it ominous that both spoke in terms of generating funds from elsewhere,
despite having emphasised that additional money was being made
available through the Cabinet Office. We are concerned that this
may mean, contrary to the Government's assurances, that National
Citizen Service might end up in direct competition with other
youth services for funds at local authority level.
126. Derek Twine, Chief Executive of the Scout
Association, noted that "for the same cost per head that
the NCS is anticipating spending in the first tranche of pilots
we could provide two or three years' worth of the experience,
week by week, for young people in the same age range".
External observers, such as Tony Travers of the London School
of Economics, have commented that the scheme would be "very,
very expensive" in the long term if there was a large uptake
by young people.
Although the funding source and break down of costs for the scheme
after 2012 is not yet clear, on the basis of a cost estimate of
£1,182 per head in 2011,
National Citizen Service would cost £709 million per year
to roll out to all 600,000 16 year-olds. Even allowing for economies
of scale and the likelihood that many young people will not sign
up to participate, this is a huge sum: over twice as much as annual
spending on all local authority youth services, which was £350
million in 2009-10. By way of further comparison, the German federal
government pays £1,228 per young person£43 million
in totalfor a whole year's participation in one of its
two voluntary programmes.
127. On the other hand, the point was made that
NCS offered an opportunity to youth organisations to access money
which would not otherwise be available. Terry Ryall explained
that it formed another funding stream for organisations which,
like V, had previously been funded to support youth volunteering.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families,
Tim Loughton MP, said that "NCS is about a lot of money going
into youth organisations. A lot of the people from voluntary organisations
... who are doing, or will no longer be doing, stuff with local
authorities can also be part of NCS schemes. This is a huge investment
not in NCS, but in the youth sector".
Indeed, Paul Oginsky warned that "I stress that if we take
NCS at this point and say 'let's not do it. Let's put it in the
bin' we will still face all the cuts that we're getting at the
moment. This is an opportunity to show Government ... what personal
and social development programmes can do".
128. The cost of National Citizen
Service in 2011 is around £1,182 per young person. By contrast,
the German federal Government spends £1,228 per young person
for a whole year's work-based volunteering programme, which we
heard enhanced young people's skills and future careers. We do
not see how the Government can justify spending the same amount
for only six weeks of National Citizen Service.
129. Although the Government has made clear
that, subject to the success of the pilots, it wishes to make
National Citizen Service a universal offer to all 600,000 16-year
olds, it has given no indication of what percentage it calculates
would actually participate. Based on the cost per
head of the 2011 pilots, it would cost a total of £355 million
each year to provide a universal offer of National Citizen Service
assuming, for example, a 50%take up. Even allowing for economies
of scale, the costs may well outstrip entire annual spending
by local authorities on youth services, which totalled £350
million in 2009-10.
130. Several witnesses suggested to us that,
rather than inventing another new programme, the Government could
introduce NCS as a form of accreditation or badging of existing
organisations and programmes. Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of
the National Youth Agency, said "if you could do your D of
E [Duke of Edinburgh] gold award and that would also be your NCS
when you were 16, wouldn't that be great?"
Susanne Rauprich, Chief Executive of the National Council for
Voluntary Youth Services, considered that:
creating one stand-alone programme that builds on
the principles and work of many organisations is fine but, in
parallel, there is a range of other programmes that would deliver
the same desired outcomes ... it would be much easier and logistically
better if such programmes could be given an opportunity to continue
what they do under the mantle of the National Citizen Service,
which would reach an ever larger number of young people.
She added that "several organisations, and the
cadet forces, have proposed on several occasions that their programmes
might be badged "National Citizen Service". That might
help the Government to resolve a fairly logistical problem about
how to go about offering the range of opportunities that must
be in place to cater for the whole cohort".
Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of UK Youth, agreed.
131. Overall, we applaud the
Government's aspiration to make a universal offer to all young
people, and for the emphasis placed by National Citizen Service
on social mixing, skills building, community engagement and young
people's positive participation in society. In a world of less
scarce resources we agree that introduction of the scheme would
be a positive development. However, given the degree to which
youth services are being cut, and in light of our concerns about
the scheme's cost and practical implementation, we cannot support
the continued development of National Citizen Service in its current
form. Consequently, we recommend that the core idea of National
Citizen Service be retained, but that it be significantly amended
to become a form of accreditation for existing programmes which
can prove that they meet the Government's aims of social mixing,
personal and social development, and the component parts of National
Citizen Service, such as a residential experience and a social
action task. We acknowledge that this may further reduce the overall
resources available to the youth sector, and thus recommend that
Government protects those additional funds currently earmarked
for National Citizen Service and divert them into year-round youth
222 Q 12 Back
Q 16 Back
Other projects included: 'v cashpoint', a youth fund which gave
money to young people to develop community projects; 'v inspired.com',
a website where young people could find information about volunteering
and join an online community of 100,000 members; 'v Match Fund',
which partnered each £1 from private sector companies with
£1 from the Treasury to invest in youth volunteering programmes.
Data taken from V, Impacts of vtalent year 2010. Available
at: http://vinspired.com/about-us/vtalent-year Back
Q 379 Back
V (2010), Vtalent year evaluation, pp.5-7 Back
Q 393 and Ev 180 Back
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Figures provided by the BMFSFJ (German Federal Ministry for Family,
Senior Citizens, Women and Youth). See Annex [Note of Berlin visit] Back
Annex [Note of Berlin visit] Back
Ev 118 Back
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See, for instance, The Coalition: our Programme for Government,
May 2010, p.29 Back
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Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Article on No 10 Website: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/latest-news/2011/02/pioneering-teenagers-to-help-build-the-big-society-national-citizen-service-now-recruiting-60635 Back
Cabinet Office website. Available at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/100722-citizenservice/national-citizen-service.aspx#note1.
Accessed on 15 January 2011 Back
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For instance, Rick Bowler [Ev w10]; Steve Davies [Ev w60]; John
Paxton, Head of Integrated Youth Support Services, Leeds City
Council [Ev w69]; the Federation of Detached Youth Workers [Ev
w136]; Integrated Youth Services, Luton Borough Council [Ev w153];
Railway Children [Ev w184]; The Scout Association [Ev w385] Back
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Quoted in article and video on Public Finance magazine and website:
The total cost of £13 million in 2011, divided by the 11,000
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