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We believe that all communities across Merseyside have the right to be free from violence in order to provide the best life chances for all.

Guest Blog - Why Is Volunteering Interest Waning?



The creator of the British Education Awards Amin Babor Chowdhury reflects on disturbing news that the number of young people volunteering has declined to just 6%.

“It has been pitched as another symptom of COVID, the Lockdown breaking down community ties and seeing the cancellation of hundreds of fun fundraising events.

But volunteering isn’t just about coming together to raise money. It can provide valuable experience and skills for young people to gain work, and though they may feel disadvantage acutely, to learn that there are others less fortunate than themselves.

Boosting their CV

This is something that both the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership and the British Education Awards recognise. That is why when our winners are created, we value impact on the community to be as important as academic excellence.

Young people are not all born with the confidence to communicate with others. If they have ACEs or other trauma, their self-esteem may well be shattered. Some young people have not even travelled into a city centre from their homes, which may be merely ten minutes away from the metropolis. And then there are those who sadly have no significant mentor. Volunteering – for anyone from the NHS to the local church – puts them in touch with people from all backgrounds, including those who can inspire.

Not faring well

I see the sticking point for some in Merseyside, namely poverty. It is considerably easier to volunteer when you have a parent to ferry you to and from, and don’t have to somehow muster up the bus fare. At times of economic crisis, we might also ask, “Why should I do it for free?” and even though the DWP is positive about the plus points of volunteering, there is always a concern about how it will affect your benefits.

I do feel that those expecting young people to work for free should demonstrate clarity, never take advantage, and do any placement legally. We may need to help young people understand the sad truth that a few, very few, people will try and exploit. That is why I only support placements, “by the book.”

My other observation about Merseyside is the strength of community and the desire to help those less fortunate.

So, my message to all of you is to take a positive view of volunteering. If there are opportunities, don’t immediately write them off. Yes, there are sadly employers who take advantage, but the vast majority could be helping young people to get ahead – and that opportunity may well to full-time employment, should they prove themselves capable.”

Amin Babor Chowdhury is the founder of the British Education Awards, which are unique in that they honour individual students. They have proved particularly popular in areas of economic disadvantage, including Belfast, South Wales and the Northwest. Visit their website   


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