On International Volunteers Day the Caritas Schools’ Service are exploring ideas to support children and young people (CYP) to engage in volunteering.
Volunteering is beneficial to all people as looking at the five ways to wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give) we can see that different types of volunteering can help us to engage in numerous mood raising activities.
The five ways to wellbeing initiative is endorsed by the NHS and we are all encouraged to engage – to raise our mood and support positive mental health. COVID-19 has had a detrimental influence on mental health and we are still not sure what impact it will have. There are changes to some of the volunteering opportunities available to CYP due to the pandemic so we will be looking at things CYP can do with support from their school or family. Take a look at how these different volunteering ideas can support CYP to boost their emotional wellbeing whilst benefiting others, communities and their future prospects.
During a time when many people are having to self-isolate and the elderly are vulnerable to COVID-19 CYP can engage with elderly relatives through phone calls, video calls and letters. Engaging with people within different generations may help CYP to learn, increase their knowledge, and practice empathy for others. Some care homes have schemes in place to support pen pals with residents – younger children could also get involved by sending a beautiful picture that they have made.
In schools CYP could be given volunteering opportunities through connecting with younger peers as ‘buddies’. At home we can connect with each other in a range of ways – help CYP to think about how they could volunteer to help out with extra chores, or hold the door for someone. Being helpful is a form of volunteering as we are giving our time and skills to others.
Maintaining activity is important for emotional wellbeing and our physical health. CYP could volunteer and be active by raising money for charity through sport. Examples of activities CYP could complete with their schools or families are walking/running, doing something unusual such as hopping for the day, cycling, or swimming.
We can also be active by volunteering our time to someone to complete chores for them. This may be going to the shop to get a neighbour some essentials or shovelling snow from a driveway.
Raising money for a charity helps CYP to take notice as they will be able to think about what charity they would like to support and why. This helps CYP to think about what is important to them and actively engage in promoting change.
CYP can also take notice to support the planet, there are a number of initiatives to spot wildlife that they could get involved with. Take a look online to find out more about supporting the environment where you live.
Taking notice is sometimes referred to as being mindful – we can be mindful of our own impact on others and the world and by volunteering CYP are taking time to notice the needs of other people around them. Engage in activities that will improve your local areas, such as a supervised litter pick or supporting local vegetable gardens.
Many volunteering opportunities give us an opportunity to learn whether this is about people, charities, our environment, or a new skill. This may be increased knowledge or something completely new.
Some ideas for learning activities that CYP could engage in at home and school are to, build habitats for wildlife in their local park or garden, create something that could be used to raise money such as a cake sale or masks, learn a new skill such as knitting so that they can make hats for maternity units or share their knowledge and skills with others to help them with their learning.
Learning provides a great sense of achievement and is a great activity to complete with family at home or with class mates in school.
To volunteer is to give, as we are supporting others in a range of ways. We can give our time, money, skills or ideas to others whilst receiving nothing in return, but to embrace kindness and promote love to others.
International Volunteers Day is near to Christmas time and there are often a number of initiatives families, schools and CYP can engage in to give to others such as donating toys, food to local food banks or warm clothing to hostels and homeless charities.
Many of the suggestions are dependent on the age and ability of children and young people and it is important that schools and parents are involved in any volunteering ideas that CYP pursue to ensure that this is done safely and with the correct measures during COVID-19.
Involving CYP in charitable acts helps them to enhance their self-esteem, increase their mood and encourage pro social behaviour towards others. It is important to encourage CYP to follow their interests and give back, to enable them to contribute to society and the things that are important to them.