Volunteer Tips & Hints
Volunteering with Local Village Network. How to make the most of your hour.
We know that some volunteers prefer to print out and read through our Volunteer Tips & Hints. You can download them as a pdf document here:
I loved my Power of an Hour. I’d never worked with young people before, and I was a bit nervous. But I was blown away by how engaged, bright and tenacious they were.
Lucy, May 2020
Having an impact in an hour
Everyone runs the race at a different pace. LVN’s flexible approach allows for this. If a young person is only going 1 stop, or if they’re on a longer journey, we’ll take them there. Some young people have a clear direction and need support in reaching their goals, others need time to explore their options and discover their interests.
One hour might not seem much but collectively they make a big difference. Our evidence is showing that just ten-interactions is enough to change a life path. Young people told us they want to feel in control and dip in and out of bite-sized support as and when they need it.
LVN The basics
- All our host centres are LVN validated, safe environments.
- All our youth practitioners are LVN trained and approved and have a minimum of 2 years’ experience working with young people
- A youth practitioner will be on hand throughout every Power of an Hour session. Volunteers are never left alone with a young person.
- Power of an Hour sessions last no longer than 1 hour.
- Sessions are either 1-2-1 or group. The number of attendees is unpredictable and can range from 2-20, although 8 participants is the most common. Numbers tend to be lower in the Summer months.
- Matches are made in response to a young person’s specific interests and needs which are identified in a personal development plan.
- Where required visitor information is provided in advance of your session, this includes named contact, what to do on arrival and an on the day contact numbers.
- Volunteers can give an hour per youth setting per year. Volunteers wanting to offer more hours at the same centre will need a full DBS check and to speak to LVN or the youth host centre to establish their exact requirements.
What will my Power of an Hour look like? Planning your hour
There is no prescribed format for the hour you give. Every session is different in terms of content, tone, youth cohort, levels of energy, participation and youth practitioner involvement. Select the approach you are most comfortable with – a more formal presentation or a round–table conversation, both work.
Young people want to learn from you and want to hear your story. You may wish to tell this chronologically or highlight key moments. Think about what might have helped had you known it sooner, what would you have liked to have learnt that school did not teach? The LVN Session plan can be used to help you plan your hour. You may wish to bring a presentation to help you with prompts, keeping on track and displaying content for interactive exercises.
Ideas for content to include:
- A clear explanation of your job title and what you do
- Explain your industry and the different jobs within it
- Show & tell – can you bring anything to explain your work?
- Outline your career journey and work history, touching on relevant schooling, further education and training when relevant
- How you got into your chosen field
- The technical and skills requirements of your job and how these can be acquired.
- The pros and cons of the job
- Any ups and downs along the way and pivotal points which had a significant impact
- Difficult choices you made
- Who or what influenced and inspired you?
- The “day in the life of … “
There is a perception that professional adults have got it all right first go. It’s good to share the difficulties, mistakes made and challenges you’ve faced over your career and provide examples of some highs and lows.
Where a young person has asked for a 1-2-1 and/or identified a specific ask such as help with writing a CV; filling in a job application; writing a personal statement; preparing for interview or tackling course work; needing homework support; practical help such as how to apply for a driver’s license, open a bank account; it would help to have relevant examples, useful templates, suggested website links etc.
Getting to know and handling your audience: interaction, icebreakers, AV, props and prompts
Everyone wonders how they’ll be received by young people and you hope they like you. Will you stumble, get caught out? Young people can be challenging, unpredictable, tricky – right? Speaking to a room full of them can be daunting. Dealing with unpredictable and difficult participants poses a challenge. A lot of volunteers experience first night nerves – stage fright. Remember what it was like at school when some teachers would be given a hard time?
A wide range of youth (aged 14-24) participate in LVN programmes. Some are very vulnerable and disadvantaged, others less so. Some have had limited engagement in formal education, whilst others are already on their path to securing meaningful employment. Many have experienced only negative interactions with adults through statutory services and educational or judicial institutions, for example, those in the care system, in pupil referral units, excluded youth or persistent truants. Others have chaotic home lives, lack positive role models and are unused to adults listening to them and taking a positive interest. There are also those who have completed degree courses and tertiary education but who may have lost direction or lack the knowledge, networks and confidence to progress their careers.
For all, a poverty of networks is a significant barrier to progression. The common factor is that they are all in need of your support. Remember underneath our young people are diverse, fun, curious and interesting. They can take time to warm up. Volunteers really enjoy meeting our young people. Take time for this.
Handling a young audience
Never underestimate how much you have to offer. But do manage your expectations. Be realistic, it’s unlikely that you’ll get and hold everyone’s attention for the whole hour. A group of 15-year olds differs greatly. You get shy with peers but not with adults, and vice versa, confident show-offs, clowns, the hangers on, the sheep. Youth practitioners will intervene and assist you if they think people are getting restless or losing interest. Here are a few ideas that can help:
- Acknowledge your nerves
- Engage and ask for contributions
- Be silent
- Use the youth practitioner. They’re there to help. Don’t be afraid to ask them to intervene – you can do this by asking them a direct question based on their own knowledge or experience.
- Ask them to finish this sentence, “I can …..” (this can be challenging for some young people, so it may be worth thinking of some basic examples in preparation to start them off)
- Think about splitting groups up and giving them interactive tasks, such as:
- Play networking games, guessing games and mini quizzes. E.g. Everyone finds out about the person to their left and presents it back leaving people to guess who it refers to
- Compile lists, e.g. top 3 movies or TV shows and why? Can you name and explain 4 different jobs in (…… insert sector)?
- Role play, e.g. telephone and interview techniques
- Pose leading questions, such as “How do you access content? Will it be the same in 5 years?
- Generate ideas, such as, in groups think about an idea for a TV show or new fast food. How would you pitch it? Who do you think would watch it, eat it?
- Ask them to make assessments and grade something like the design of different social media channels, for example, what marks out of 10 would you give TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, twitter, Tumblr etc.
- Set Imagineering and role play challenges. Imagine you are buying YouTube content, what would you look for for an audience of 14-16-year olds?
Further resources can be found on the Prince’s Trust website. What Am I Like, Getting a Job 1, Getting a job 2, Life Luggage are handy 1-page visuals that young people could fill in or simply discuss.
For 1-2-1 sessions aimed at helping a young person into employment – CV writing, interview preparation etc the Prince’s Trust Accenture Get Hired Booklet is excellent. If you want to work on goal setting and barriers to success How to Eat an Elephant and Little Things Big Things and Climbing the Ladder to Success can help focus discussion.
Open questions are a good starting point
It’s useful to have some icebreakers to fall back on if the session is slow to get going or stalls.
Props to show and/or hand around can help change the pace of a session. Think about having your CV, some job ads and role profiles to hand. Images such as photos of your place of work, the reception, work you have produced, designs, products, trade magazines and props will help bring your story and/industry sector to life.
Delivering your Power of an Hour
We ask volunteers to arrive, or log–in, 10 minutes in advance of their session. This gives you the opportunity to meet the youth practitioner and learn a little about their youth cohort.
If online, check your backdrop, IT connection and ensure any personal emails or identifiers are hidden. We recommend using the generic LVN Power of an Hour backdrop, this helps avoid the risk of showing anything private or inappropriate (that some might find offensive).
Volunteers are asked to refrain from smoking, vaping, drinking alcohol or using any banned substances during the session and to wear appropriate clothing. The host will ensure young people use appropriate language and conduct. If at any point you feel that some individuals are not, please pause the session. Use the pause as a positive – a useful break to check in to see if you have lost the audience and / or if there is anything specific that they’d like you to cover.
Commonly asked questions from our young people
Be ready to ask and answer questions. These are the top three most asked:
How do I get a job in ______?”
Useful to outline how your own organisation recruits. If you can, come armed with some basic information such as details of:
- the top 5 recruiters / sites / trade press used in the industry
- Relevant trade bodies and professional institutes
- Recommended reading and events to attend
“What types of jobs are there in your organisation?”
Role–splain – try to help translate the jargon that young people might encounter and outline what different jobs entail in practice.
“How much do you earn?”
Expect to be asked about your salary. It’s useful to know average entry level salaries and approximate salary scales by role and per day or hourly rates for freelance work. You might want to include details of rewards packages such as holidays, pension contributions, healthcare, fitness benefits.
What if a session does not go as planned?
If any issues arise, please speak openly and freely to the session host and/or LVN direct. The volunteer experience is very important to us. If you have any safeguarding concerns, ideas or issues you’d like to raise please contact email@example.com
Keeping everyone safe is a priority for us so all communication between young people and volunteers must take place through a youth practitioner. Volunteers are asked to familiarise themselves with LVN’s safeguarding rules and sign our volunteer agreement. Volunteers are forbidden from passing any personal contact information directly to young people. Do not encourage contact beyond the formal sessions, this includes via LinkedIn. It’s fine to offer further support and information but this must come through LVN–trained staff.
The difference you make. How young people benefit from your hour:
- Positive networks: young people keep a record of who they meet and their impact.
- Ideas and insight into different industries, jobs, employment and training opportunities that they may never have previously been aware of or have considered.
- First-hand understanding and expectations of the real world of work from the people doing the jobs: the skills needed; how companies work; earning potential; terms and conditions; long-term prospects; pitfalls to be alert to; advice on entry requirements; the best way to access opportunities.
- The workplace demystified. Volunteers can help “role-splain” the jobs that exist and the titles and terminology used, enabling young people to search the jobs market and target potential employers more efficiently.
- Life ready skills; in particular communications skills – questioning and active listening; peer to peer networking; critical thinking; and organisational skills such as time management.
- Inspiration and encouragement: volunteers make great role models and help expand a young person’s horizons. It is important for young people to hear that everyone has encountered barriers, overcome hurdles, and failed.
- Help combat fears. The ability to interact with professional adults can improve interview prospects and preparedness for employment. Meeting similar people to those they might encounter at interview or work reduces fear and changes the perception that “this job is not for people like me”. You help foster the belief that everyone has an equal right to access meaningful employment opportunities.
- Confidence and self-belief and a sense of being supported, welcomed and accepted.
Promoting your Power of an Hour
LVN will promote your session on social media. Please provide any social media handles you use and remember to tag LVN on your posts.
You can send your social media handles to firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested post copy:
- I gave the Power of my Hour
- I enjoyed these aspects
- I think you should volunteer too
- Sign up on the LVN app
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