Opinion Former Video

Keep calm, volunteer.

The British Safety Council is supporting the #iwill campaign that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 years olds as possible by the year 2020. 

Social action is any practical action in the service of others that creates positive change. It could be fundraising to build a community centre, or an organised litter pick. Most volunteering falls into this category.

The campaign aims to make the most of the energy, talent and commitment of young people and has the support of the main political parties. HRH Prince Charles is a patron.

With stories in the media about authority figures such as volunteers, officials, parents and schools stopping people from taking risks because they fear legal liability or being tied up in red-tape, there is a perception that health and safety has become a barrier to our lives. This video aims to change that perception.

Visit Speak Up Stay Safe or #iwill to find out more.

Video script

From sponsored runs to taking part in a community event, young people are often enthusiastic about making a difference, working together and taking on responsibility.

And taking part in social action – things like campaigning, fund-raising and volunteering in health and social care - means young people benefit at the same time as improving the lives of others.

They are likely to achieve more at school, gain experience and learn skills for the future, like problem-solving, empathy and co-operation.

That is why the #iwill campaign is aiming to support an additional 1.5 million 10-20 year-olds to get involved in social action by 2020.

But we need your help to achieve this.

One barrier to helping young people volunteer is the perceived burden of health and safety.

You may have fears that young people are more prone to danger. Or fears of drowning in paperwork.

These fears are exaggerated.

And we’re here to help dispel these myths and support you through the process.

First, the facts.

Great Britain enjoys a comparatively low incidence of injury and ill-health caused by work - the rate of deaths at work is lower than Germany and almost four times lower than France!

When it comes to youth social action, most activities are low risk. Your efforts to control these risks should be proportionate. It’s all about taking reasonable steps, not avoiding doing things because there is a small risk. 

It has been said that a young person would break an arm only once every 114 years if they were on a permanent field trip. It’s that rare.

So what should you do?

Assessing risk is a basic instinct for all of us, at all ages. Planning, discussion and demonstration can educate this instinct.

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a young person. What can you see? Does the task involve any significant risks? Any lifting or trip hazards? Does it involve sitting for long periods, include the public or is it influenced by the weather?

Think about how can you sensibly control these factors. 

The British Safety Council has a dedicated website to help you; with fact sheets on assessing risks, how the law applies to you, and advice on working with young volunteers.

So, trust young people to be responsible, make yourself aware of any significant risks, and be proportionate in controlling them. That way young people can get on with helping communities. 

Please get involved and promote youth social action.

Don’t let the myth get in the way of the facts. 

#iwill is working to encourage more young people to take part in social action by 2020.

Will you?

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