Youth Engagement for a Better World

Michael Meyer
Head of International Law
British Red Cross


The British Red Cross reconfirmed our commitment to young volunteers meaningfully responding to community needs through the implementation of our youth engagement strategy, co-designed by young people with a direct line of sight from the IFRC youth engagement strategy. The strategy Safe, Heard and Developed, integrates young people across our general volunteering, staff, and supporter activity while ensuring young people’s specific needs are met and opportunities particularly attractive to younger people are offered.

Since January 2016 we have hosted over 300 Internships – usually 12 week unpaid part time placements delivering a specific project for the BRC; multiple work experience weeks targeting young people with additional needs such as learning difficulties; numerous educational placements where volunteering with the BRC contributes to a recognized health and social care qualification.

The British Red Cross hosted 76 European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteers in UK projects and sent 50 young people from the UK to European projects.

We implemented our intergenerational ‘Generation Digital’ project, where young volunteers with sound digital skills up-skilled volunteers with less digital confidence or experience.

The British Red Cross delivered the ‘Inspired Action’ programme in partnership with specialist mobility organization Whizz Kidz; identifying and removing the barriers that prevent young people from volunteering, with a special emphasis on young people who have disabilities. The toolkit is attached and can also be accessed at: http://www.redcross.org.uk/~/media/BritishRedCross/Documents/Get%20involved/Volunteering/Inspired%20Action%20toolkit.pdf .  This 3 year programme culminated in a sector-wide conference with participants from charities, education, crime prevention, health agencies, youth organisations and volunteering networks.

The British Red Cross supported our Youth Leadership Team, a group of geographically dispersed young volunteers who deliver an annual youth manifesto ensuring young people’s views are heard throughout the organisation.

We reviewed and re-designed our volunteer representation model to include dedicated seats for young volunteers in proportion to the percentage of young volunteers delivering a specific service. This will tackle the issue of young people being under-represented as elected representatives.

The British Red Cross continued to include a young volunteer in our delegation to the International Statutory Meetings and ensured participation in European youth networks.

We set up, along with the Netherlands Red Cross, the Irish Red Cross and the Belgian Red Cross the West European Youth Network as a sub network of the EURXYN.

The British Red Cross is planning our next national conference for young people, ReinspiRED; this is scheduled to be held in October 2017 (the previous conference was held in 2015).

We set up ‘Red Cross on Campus’ to create a student network supporting the British Red Cross throughout universities in the UK. Students support British Red Cross programmes, fundraise, advocate and promote volunteering on our behalf.

We developed an accreditation programme, ‘R(ecognise), E(mpower), D(evelop)’, to accredit young volunteers’ skills and development. On average, young people have assessed their improvement across all measures as 24%, due to their British Red Cross experience.

The BRC set key performance indicators (KPIs) for youth engagement work in 2015. The KPIs are as follows:

  • This organisation gives a high priority to volunteer/staff welfare and health & safety (safe)
  • My ideas and opinions are given serious consideration (heard)
  • This organisation provides opportunity for personal development and growth (developed).

The KPIs are tracked annually, and the results are discussed with a selection of young staff and volunteers, facilitated by a youth engagement worker.