We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

We’ve made our member-only resources free to everyone because of the current situation. We think it’s important people have the guidance they need to run their organisations during this time.

If you want to find out more about how you can volunteer to help deal with coronavirus, see our volunteering and coronavirus page.

If you are looking for advice on coronavirus and your charity, please see our dedicated coronavirus page.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

Engaging younger volunteers

This page is free to all
Voluntary Action Oldham on how it engaged younger volunteers to develop a recruitment process that improved retention.


Through our brokerage service at the Volunteer Centre we received a number of enquiries from young people aged 14 – 18 who were looking to volunteer in a care home environment. We felt a need to respond to this and looked to recruit young volunteers as part of the project.

We approached the care home managers with the possibility of integrating young volunteers into the home. It was imperative to ensure that activities conducted by young people were chosen by residents, so we held a meeting with residents, care home managers and young people. After the consultation it was decided that young volunteers would organise a series of creative and interactive taster sessions that involved diverse activities including arts and crafts and playing various games.

The issues we faced

Initially, there were a number of barriers that we needed to overcome to ensure the young people were able to volunteer. The first barrier was the uncertainty of staff about whether young people had the skills and qualities to volunteer with older people.

Care home managers were concerned that young people may not have enough support to confidently volunteer with older residents. They were also unsure about whether young people would be reliable and committed.

The second barrier was training so we supported the young people through the volunteer induction training and conducted follow up sessions where they were able to develop ideas for activities with residents.

We conducted a one hour training session covering the most important aspects to consider when volunteering in a home. We also offered longer training sessions to young people who wanted to volunteer long term. A member of staff from the volunteer centre attended to support young volunteers.

The actions we took

As part of the application process young people were encouraged to identify their skills and abilities. We then put volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds into peer support groups to support each other.

Before any activity took place we introduced our young volunteers to the care homes to speak to residents about what activities they would like to do. The volunteers were shown around the home and introduced to staff members. This was an opportunity for volunteers to engage with staff to alleviate any concerns on either side.

The young volunteers were supported to conduct activities in groups by both volunteer centre staff and care home staff, so they didn’t have to go through the usual formal volunteer recruitment processes.

Positive outcomes

The key elements that have gone particularly well include the development of clearly defined roles for the volunteers. During the consultation process a great rapport between residents, care home staff and young people developed as the activities were identified and everyone was clear on the volunteer roles.

We were able to provide a personalised activity that was identified by the resident as something of interest and individually supported by young volunteers to maximise residents' involvement.

Through working with Oldham College and Oldham sixth form, as well as schools across the borough, we were able to recruit young volunteers and informally interview them in groups to ensure they were right for the role. This enabled us to offer an application process suitable for this group of volunteers.

Our recruitment processes have been most successful. Through cutting the red tape we have enabled the young people to develop their confidence and decide if this is an area of longer term volunteering for them.

Negative outcomes

We could have initially offered long term volunteer opportunities to young people who were sure they wanted to volunteer on a long term basis without requiring them to complete the group activity sessions with residents.

We could also have worked with some of our older, long term volunteers to equip them with the skills to support the groups of young volunteers so the volunteer centre staff did not have to devote so much time and dedication to supporting group volunteer activity sessions.

Lessons learnt

The outcomes have been fantastic for residents as they have benefitted and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with young people who they may not have ordinarily had the chance to engage with. There has been a report of care home staff noting changes to residents, and care home energy levels.

Another positive impact has been the opportunity for relatives to get involved in activities with residents and young people. This has enabled relatives to feel more confident, assured and involved in the care of residents.

The volunteer activity has had an added value and impact on young people, helping them to develop their confidence and gain additional skills. As a result of the taster sessions six young people have decided to come back to continue volunteering.

A case study is being included in Community Service Volunteers (CSV) Youth Volunteering Toolkit. This was featured in NCVO’s update on Step up to Serve.


Page last edited Mar 16, 2016

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.