Meet YVIE – Our First Youth Advisory Board

Posted on September 13, 2019

Introducing ProjectScotland’s Youth Advisory Board

We have recently formed our new Youth Advisory Board – Youth Volunteering Innovation and Engagement, known as YVIE! They will be working with the rest of the organisation to embed young people’s voices in decision making.

YVIE members Lizzie (27) and Davie (19) were in recently catching up with Raymond, the chair of the ProjectScotland Board, and we managed to sit down with them and hear about what they’ve been up to and their ideas about youth volunteering.

Pic: Lizzie (27), YVIE member

So what have YVIE been up to recently?

Lizzie: We had our first meeting in July and it was really about getting to know each other because we hadn’t met before and we all come from different parts of Scotland and different backgrounds.

Davie: We’ve been looking at how we’re going to work together with the main board at ProjectScotland and we’ve been looking at what kind of specific issues we want to tackle as a group, like accessibility and mental health.

Lizzie: We also discussed what our priorities would be for the upcoming year. I think we all thought it was important to look at connecting volunteers, having some sort of alumni network, and upskilling volunteers so that after their placements, even if they’re not going into work, they’re gaining skills.

Why do you think it’s important for ProjectScotland to include the voices of young people in its decision making?

Davie: It’s important that we’re involved because we’re the target that ProjectScotland is working to support. It only makes sense to have us involved in the decision making if it’s affecting us.

Lizzie: I think just because young people have that experience. They know what it’s like to be struggling to find a job, they know what it’s like to go on a volunteer placement. They know the challenges of that, they know the successes. […] ProjectScotland is a charity that is there to support young people so it seems kind of strange if there isn’t that input from young people.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young people, in terms of volunteering but also just more generally?

Lizzie: I would say lack of experience. You need to have experience to get a job but how do you get experience without having had a job in the first place? I think that’s something that ProjectScotland is really important for because volunteering gives you that little bit of experience which means you can then go on to a paid job.

Pic: YVIE group meeting

Davie: It’s challenging for young people to be taken seriously when they’re trying to get a volunteering role. If they’re under 16 it’s even harder to find a role that suits them because so many organisations say that you must be at least 18. Organisations should be looking at why these policies are in place and if there’s any way to get around them and change them.

What’s your vision for ProjectScotland in 10 years’ time?

Lizzie: Having more of a network between the volunteers, so for example maybe meetups between the volunteers […] maybe if it’s even a newsletter, or a buddy scheme so you meet up with another person who’s also volunteering.

Davie: I think in 10 years there will be a lot more involvement with young people in board decisions and it will very much be youth focused and youth-led.

Finally, what advice would you give young people who are looking for volunteering opportunities or are unsure about volunteering?

Lizzie: If there’s something you’re interested in, ask, ‘can I have a go at this?’ They can only say no, and they might say yes and you could find a new passion!

Davie: Definitely get involved! And make sure that you’re getting a role that is good for you and that you want to do, not just go to a cliché one because it looks good. It’s about you and doing something that you enjoy because that’s how you’re going to get the most out of it.

Lizzie: I would say try anything! If something sounds interesting to you, give it a go. It’s volunteering – it doesn’t need to be something that you need to do for the rest of your life. Be enthusiastic!

Stay tuned on ProjectScotland’s social media and follow along with #YVIE to see what the group get up to next!