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Youth Volunteering

Youth Volunteering

Sport England has launched a £3m package of funding to create more volunteering opportunities for young people.

Sport England will be running the Potential Fund with the charity Step Up to Serve’s #iwillcampaign. Picture: Sport England

The money will be handed out next year through the newly created Potential Fund, which forms part of the funding body's Volunteering in an Active Nation strategy. The strategy, published on Friday, also includes a commitment to support volunteering projects in areas of high deprivation. 

Those bidding for the Potential Fund will be asked to provide volunteering roles for 10- to 20-year-olds. Sport England said that seven out of 10 people in this age group are so-called "potentials" who are keen to get involved in social action in the next year.

Full details of the fund will be published in January 2017, with bids accepted from the following month. Money will then be awarded in June next year. 

Sport England will be running the Potential Fund with the charity Step Up to Serve's #iwillcampaign. This received £40m in funding in September for the next four years from the government and Big Lottery Fund to boost social action opportunities among young people.

In announcing the Potential Fund, Sport England said: "We'll be looking for projects that connect with the lives and aspirations of 10- to 20-year-olds."

The organisation added that while sport and physical activity should be involved in the projects they do not "have to be the sole focus". 

The Potential Fund has been welcomed by Jane Ashworth, chief executive of sports charity Street Games, which specialises in sporting opportunities for young people in disadvantaged areas. 

She said: "We know from working with thousands of young people from disadvantaged communities, volunteering can be a life-changing experience, especially if they have had difficulties at home or at school. 

"Many have few prospects as young adults and by volunteering with a community project in their neighbourhood, they have the opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills, whilst also learning to coach sessions for typically under-active people. 

"The positive experience not only widens their horizons but gives them the skills they need to set them on the pathway to employment."

Through its Volunteering in an Active Nation strategy, Sport England has also created a £3m Opportunity Fund to specifically fund volunteering projects in areas blighted by poor health, high unemployment and crime.