Young volunteers in Wales challenge stereotypes

250,000 hours of volunteering – Welsh young people challenge generational stereotypes

Young volunteers in Wales are challenging the ‘Generation Y’ stereotype having given over a quarter of a million hours of time to make Wales a better place.

Generation Y is often labelled as ‘entitled’ and even ‘selfish’. Yet between April 2013 and March 2014, youth volunteering initiative Millennium Volunteers awarded over 3,000 of its 50, 100 and 200 hours volunteering certificates, the largest number in its history. If added together, this totals more than 250,000 hours of volunteering – completely contradicting the stereotype of Generation Y.

Since 1998 the MV Award programme has recognised volunteering completed by 14 to 25 year olds through certificates for 50, 100 and 200 hours of volunteering. It has registered over 20,000 volunteers who have completed over two million hours of volunteering. There are also special awards for those volunteering in areas involving sport (MV50 Sport) and those volunteering overseas (MV50 Global).

David Heald, Millennium Volunteers Co-ordinator, said: ‘The last year has shown just how popular volunteering is among young people in Wales. These 3000 certificates cover volunteering in all sorts of organisations, from the largest charities to the smallest community projects and in cities and rural areas too.

‘The impact on Wales should not be underestimated – this represents more than a quarter of a million hours of volunteering.’

One young volunteer who has worked incredibly hard to make a huge impact on the people around her is 15-year-old Elan Mon Gilford from Anglesey. Elan is involved in coaching and is a Young Ambassador for Sport Wales as well as a Millennium Volunteer. This means assisting with various activities in lunchtime and after school as well as spending some of her weekends coaching and volunteering for local group Môn Active.

She has also competed for her school in a wide range of sports, including netball, football, badminton, cross country running, athletics and mountain biking. She said: ‘Volunteering is the best thing I have ever done, I love it. I have gained so much from it. If I can gain such skills, I think anyone can.

‘I have attended numerous sport courses run by the Urdd and these have most definitely proved their worth in the way they inspire and attract children who are not as sporty. The benefits could be a life changing experience for so many children and young people in Wales.’

Elan is deaf and recently attended the Disability Sport Wales Stakeholder Conference in April 2014 as a member of the ‘Athletes Panel’, where she found the other athletes ‘truly inspirational’. However, she also understands the importance of her own volunteering through coaching as an example of what can be achieved.

She added: ‘My ability to compete at a high level through mainstream sport has improved my confidence, and through coaching I can prove to others that having a disability doesn’t have to affect what you can do.’

Elan has achieved her 50 hour Millennium Volunteers certificate and is approaching 100 hours. She has already achieved her 100-hour Mon Active Certificate.

Young people can get involved in Millennium Volunteers by registering online at www.gwirvol.org.

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