Volunteering: Equality, Equity and Fairness

13 February 2017

by Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive at Young Scot 

"Young people across Scotland are making huge differences to their communities and their lives through the power of volunteering"

Louise Young ScotLouise Macdonald is Chief Executive of Young Scot. Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity. They help young people, aged 11 - 26, to become confident, informed and active citizens.

Louise provides her views on youth volunteering drawing on the latest Young People in Scotland volunteering survey.

Making an impact

Young people across Scotland are making huge differences to their communities and their lives through the power of volunteering. It’s a great way for young people to try something new and not only provides an opportunity to develop skills and experience but also brings about wider wellbeing benefits.

It's so important for young people to see how they are making a difference for themselves and others – and there is certainly no shortage of inspirational young Scots who through their volunteering help make Scotland a stronger and better country. I never cease to be amazed by their passion and commitment to make things better for everyone – never more so than at our annual Sunday Mail Young Scot Awards, where over the years the number of young people being nominated in the volunteering category has got higher every time.

At Young Scot we are also proud to be working with the UK  #iwill campaign, empowering even more young people to get involved and make a positive difference in their communities. The Young Scot #iwill Rewards Programme celebrates the efforts of young people providing additional opportunities to give back and the chance to take part in unique experiences.

Tackling inequality

But there is no room for complacency. I recently visited the USA as part of the #iwill social action campaign looking at youth volunteerism and service. There was much to celebrate, but I also witnessed inequality I could barely comprehend. The gaps are wide, as they are here in the UK. The point I was left with was that it’s almost too easy to think the work you are doing is open to all – when in fact some of the structural barriers are so nuanced it’s hard to see them. It’s the difference between equality, equity and fairness.

It’s fantastic to see such a strong growth trend in youth volunteering from the recent survey results. However, the difference in volunteering rates in areas of deprivation should not be ignored. The challenge now is to tackle these inequalities making sure that the benefits of volunteering are shared by young people from all backgrounds around the country.

With young people at the centre, we must collaborate to reduce barriers and support young people to unleash their passion, creativity and sense of community.

Louise Macdonald OBE

Chief Executive | Young Scot | @Louisemac


Further information

If you would like to nominate a young volunteer for the Young Scot Awards, check here https://youngscotawards.com/.

And for more info about #iwill, here’s the link

Volunteer Scotland would welcome feedback on the research findings and engagement on youth volunteering more generally. Please contact Matthew Linning or Gemma Jackson (01786 479593)

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