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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

Last update: 26 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 28/06/2020

On this page
  1. National Programme for Youth Volunteering
  2. Funding
  3. Characteristics of youth volunteering
  4. Support to young volunteers
  5. Quality Assurance (QA)
  6. Target groups


National Programme for Youth Volunteering

There are a number of national programmes for youth volunteering in Wales, as listed below.

Volunteering Wales

Volunteering Wales, formerly known asGwirVol is a Welsh youth volunteering initiative aimed at encouraging more young people, aged 16-25 years, to volunteer and to help more organisations develop opportunities for young people to get involved. Its main strands of work are providing advice, recognition, information and funding (as described below).  It does not provide volunteer placements, but is a general programme organised, funded and monitored by the state, and therefore fulfils the EU Youth Wiki Definition. 

There are 22 part-timeVolunteering Wales Youth Volunteering Advisors (YVAs) based in volunteer centres - called County Voluntary Councils - around Wales. The YVAs are there to offer advice and information to young people about how to become a volunteer, by providing them with advice and support about the available opportunities.

Millennium Volunteers (MV) is an award programme which supports young people to make a commitment to volunteer for 50 to 200 hours in their community. See the article on 'Skills Recognition' for further information.


Wales Council for Voluntary Action has developed a number of information resources to support young people in volunteering, and also runs a number of grant funding schemesto support the delivery of a wide range of new volunteering opportunities in Wales and overseas that support the step change in access to volunteering for young people aged 14-25 and especially for disadvantaged young people.  These opportunities are encompassed in the Volunteering Wales Grants. 

In addition, in each Welsh county, Youth Volunteering Advisors have supported the setting up ofLocal Youth Led Grant Panels. These are groups of young people from the local area who are allocated up to £4,000 to distribute through grants to local youth-led volunteering activities. Every area is led by the ideas and needs of young people and the panels themselves decide on the criteria for the grants, the priority groups and the application process, but they are all aimed at developing youth volunteering and all seek applications from projects lead by young people themselves.

Welsh Baccalaureate

TheWelsh Baccalaureate qualification is an overarching school / college qualification which combines general and/or vocational education with the development of key skills that young people need after leaving school. It incorporates existing qualifications (supporting qualifications) and a common core (the skills challenge certificate). It is available at three different levels of difficulty for young people aged 14-19. 

The Skills challenge certificate, delivered as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate, consists of four components including a 'community challenge'. It requires learners to identify, develop and participate in opportunities that will benefit the local community. Some of the activities carried out as part of the community challenge could be considered as volunteering.

UK-wide programmes

#iwillis the national campaign for youth social action. It is supported by HRH The Prince of Wales and aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20-year-olds as possible by 2020. It will be coordinated by the charityStep Up to Serve until December 2020 when this time-limited charity will close as planned.

Through collaboration and partnership,#iwillis spreading the word about the benefits of youth social action, working to embed social action in young people’s transition to adulthood and creating fresh opportunities for their participation.  #iwill asks for pledges of support from education providers, employers and business leaders, the voluntary sector and public bodies in this work.  Details of this are set out in its pledgeguidance document.

The Cabinet Office has commissioned research to track the progress of the #iwill and to provide evidence on the enablers and barriers to taking part in social action. Further details are provided in the section on 'Characteristics of Youth Volunteering'.

Step Up To Serve is funded through a blend of businesses, philanthropists, trusts and foundations and Central Government. Currently, its core funding comes from:

The campaign also receives support from 7 Business Pioneers who either contribute financially or in-kind.

At the beginning of 2016, the Welsh Government agreed to join toSchools' Cadet Expansion Programme, which is run by theMinistry of Defence. The programme enables schools to establish a cadet unit, offering the following to their pupils and staff:

  • access to a range of activities for personal development
  • structured experiences which support wider curriculum goals and engagement found in the Curriculum for Life and the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework.

Pupils are also given the opportunity to develop a range of skills, including resilience; self-discipline; team-working; problem solving; and leadership.

Note:  Following a pilot for the National Citizen Service (see this section in the England description of the Youth Wiki for full details) took place in Wales from 2011-2014, no further programmes have taken place in Wales.  


The Welsh Government provides grant funding for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and Volunteering Wales. WCVA reports and provides administrative support to the Volunteering Wales partnership board. WCVA also supports the (national) grants assessment panel and various working groups which have been set up to take forward the key strategic and operational issues. Both of these groups and the grants assessment panel consist of Partnership Board members. 

Characteristics of youth volunteering

The Cabinet commissions Ipsos MORI to carry out the annual Youth Social Action survey to measure the proportion of 10-20 year olds taking part in social action across the UK.

Results of the 2018 survey published in March 2019 show a gradual decrease over the timespan of the research in the proportion of young people taking part in social action frequently and a shift in the duration of time spent on social action activities, from longer acts of social action to shorter ones.  Rates of participation in specific types of social action in 2018 are as follows:

  • Fundraising / sponsored event - 43 per cent
  • Gave time to charity / cause - 26 per cent
  • Supported people -  23 per cent
  • Tutored, coached, mentored someone – 17 per cent
  • Helped improve local areas – 16 per cent
  • Campaigned for something - 8 per cent. 

WCVA research states that 34% of people aged 16-24 years old volunteered in 2017-2018. 

Support to young volunteers

Other than the support by the Volunteering Wales youth advisors to help young people find opportunities, there are no specific provisions to support young volunteers. 

Young volunteers are not entitled to any special social security provisions. Benefits may still be payable to individuals whilst they volunteer, for example, where the only form of payment received by the individual is in the form of travel expenses. More detail on volunteers’ entitlements is available from theGOV.UK website.

Quality Assurance (QA) 

There is no systematic, overarching system for the evaluation of youth volunteering programmes. However, there are a number of initiatives which look at the quality of what is available. 

The Welsh Government maintains, uses and promotes a Code of Practice for Funding the Third Sector (in an Annex to theThird Sector Scheme), which sets out the key principles that underpin Welsh Government funding for the Third Sector as well as what the Government expects from the Third Sector in return. The Code covers value for money; monitoring; evaluation; and audit. It applies to providers of volunteering opportunities who receive public funds. 


Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for all organisations which involve volunteers in their work. IiV is owned by the UK Volunteering Forum, which consists of the chief executives of the National Volunteering Development Agencies (independent charities), namely Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland); WCVA (Wales); Volunteer Scotland and the Executive Director of Volunteering and Development at NCVO. Over 1,000 organisations have achieved this quality award throughout the UK. 


WCVA has a number of quality assurance systems in place including Trusted Charity and Living Wage, but again these are not specifically for the evaluation of youth volunteering. 


Target groups

No specific details are provided in reference to this.