Selecting young volunteers
As well as making sure that a young volunteer is the right fit for a role, you should consider whether your group or organisation is right for them. Check that the activities are suitable for a young person and you've assessed any risks.
You may need to adapt your usual volunteer recruitment processes to meet the needs of young people, for example, you may choose to hold a less formal interview.
Always carry out all the necessary checks such as references and vetting checks. If your club or group works with children, young people or adults at risk of harm, and your volunteers are aged 16 or older, you must find out if you need to undertake criminal record checks such as DBS, PVG or AccessNI.
> Find out more about vetting and barring checks
Consent and parental permission
You must get written agreement from young volunteers who want to be involved with your organisation. This should set out what they will be doing and the organisation's expectations of them. The young person should sign this document.
You should also get agreement from their parents, depending on the volunteer's age and the activities they will be doing.
Remember you may also need separate consent for specific activities, for example overnight trips.
You should get consent from parents or carers for volunteers aged under 16 and ask them to sign a written consent form. Make sure that parents or carers are aware of your safeguarding policy and procedures.
> See an example consent form
16- and 17-year-olds
In most cases parents have a legal responsibility for their child up to the age of 18. However for young people aged 16 and 17 you should consider whether it is appropriate to obtain parental consent depending on the volunteering activity and the young person's circumstances. If you decide you don't need consent then you should consider whether you should still inform parents that the young person is volunteering.
Although a young person may have agreed to their involvement, there may be specific activities that they feel uncomfortable taking part in and you should discuss with them what alternative arrangements would be appropriate.
Volunteers from other groups
There are lots of groups and organisations who help and encourage young people to find volunteering opportunities such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and National Citizen Service. Some schools and colleges also run volunteering schemes with their students. There can be benefits in working alongside groups like this that are experienced in working with young volunteers.
If you're working with another organisation, make sure you follow their policies and procedures as well as those of your own group or organisation. You should also find out what they expect of the young volunteer and your organisation. For example, do they require regular updates or will the young volunteer need to carry out certain activities?
Induction and training
All volunteers should be given an induction and regular training, including safeguarding training. If some of your volunteers are young people you should tailor your induction process so that it is accessible for them and covers any additional requirements or questions they may have. Make sure you include what a young person should do if they have a concern either about themselves or someone else. They will also need to know how to promote positive behaviour within the group and what to do if behaviour issues arise.