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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 26/06/2020

On this page
  1. Existence of a National Strategy
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority
  4. Revisions/ Updates


Existence of a National Strategy

There is no national strategy specifically for youth volunteering. However there is a national framework for volunteering as a whole, which has a significant focus on young volunteers.

In April 2019 a national framework Volunteering For All”, a national outcomes framework for volunteering, was published by the Scottish Government. The framework recognises the contribution of volunteering to Scottish society and sets out broad purposes, values, visions and principles for volunteering in Scotland. It also recognises the under-representation of disadvantaged groups in volunteering and sets out to increase opportunities for volunteering, support the “civic core” of current volunteers and ensure stability and flexibility of funding for third sector organisations.

The framework has a significant focus on young volunteers. It recognises the key role volunteering places for young people to access opportunities and develop employability skills, outlining that in 2018 52% of young people volunteered in Scotland compared to 28% of adults. It also outlines numerous case studies which focus on youth volunteering as key examples of where the Scottish Government plays a critical role and can do more to foster the civic spirit of volunteering.


TheOur Ambitions for Improving the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland: National Youth Work Strategy 2014-2019 also mentions youth volunteering. It says that 'many young people are themselves volunteers in the youth work sector, supporting their peers and contributing to their communities and beyond’ and recognises volunteering as an important part of improving the lives of young people.

Other official documents containing guidelines on youth volunteering

Organisations involving volunteers must comply with theProtection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007. This serves to protect young people,  vulnerable adults and volunteers in their work, to protect them in their interactions with volunteers or staff.

The Act requires volunteers in contact with children or vulnerable adults to undergo a criminal record disclosure check. This is to ensure that the individuals concerned do not have any impediments or previous convictions that would make them unsuitable for working alongside children or vulnerable adults, or which could put them at risk.

A general guide to volunteers’ rights was produced by Volunteer Scotland in 2013, entitledVolunteering and the Law. The guide states that, since theEquality Act 2010 applies to employees and organisations providing a service, and since volunteering can be considered a service, organisations involving volunteers should take steps to protect volunteers from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

While health and safety legislation is designed to protect employed staff rather than volunteers, volunteers should be treated the same as paid workers. It is an organisation’s responsibility to ensure that a volunteer's workplace is safe; that effective health and safety policies and procedures are in place and understood; and that activities do not pose an unacceptable level of risk.

Many of the not-for-profit organisations involving volunteers are charities and so must comply with the relevant legislation. Information oncharity law in Scotland is available from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), established under theCharities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.


Scope and contents

The 2019 national framework for volunteering assesses the current volunteering context in Scotland and makes a case for change. The subsequent framework objectives are: 

  • Set out clearly and in one place a coherent and compelling narrative for volunteering; 
  • Define the key outcomes desired for volunteering in Scotland over the next ten years;
  • Identify the key data and evidence that will inform, indicate and drive performance at a national and local level; and 
  • Enable informed debate and decision about the optimal combination of programmes, investments and interventions.


The document outlines the responsibilities of the Scottish Government. They pledge to: 

Support action by communities and by those across the third, private and public sectors, championing the principles and values set out in the framework, and supporting its implementation across all policy areas. Progress our existing work to shape a prioritised Delivery Plan for this Framework, along with developing a performance framework with clear and measurable indicators so that we can understand progress and review interventions and approaches accordingly. 


As part of the new National Volunteering Framework, the Scottish Government commissioned ProjectScotland and Young Scot to work together to establish a national youth volunteering design team - a group of young volunteers from a variety of backgrounds living across Scotland. The team chose the name Youth Volunteering Innovation Project (YouthVIP), and met regularly to develop their knowledge of volunteering and the challenges faced by young people. The YouthVIP team were supported on their journey by an Advisory Board of key stakeholders, who provided invaluable insight and feedback to the group as they progressed. In early 2019, the team finalised 13 recommendations to pass to Scottish Government, and these were launched at a National Discussion today in March 2019. The ScottishGovernment responded to the Youth VIP report and accepted all of these recommendations in principle in January 2020. The Scottish Government will develop a delivery plan for the Outcomes Framework by Autumn 2020.


Responsible authority

The framework outlines the recommendations for implementation for the government, leadership bodies across the third sector including Volunteer Scotland, local authorities, businesses and NHS Boards. 


Revisions/ Updates

None at present.