A ground-breaking new initiative to boost volunteering opportunities among young community members was announced this week.
eVOLve aims to help Jewish schools, youth groups and communities across Anglo-Jewry to prioritise volunteering and support charities to develop more age-appropriate social action activities.
New online volunteering profiles will help match young people with volunteering services, awards and qualifications and also highlight skills developed that could attract future employers, according to JLGB, which is leading the campaign with the help of funding from the Maurice Wohl Charitable Trust and the Pears Foundation.
According to JLGB Chief Executive Neil Martin, the organisation has seen a more than 500 percent increase in those undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh Award under its auspices over the past five years. Each year Jewish DofE participants have over 12,000 hours to give to society, but said that 67 percent of those said they struggled to find a placement to volunteer as part of the programme.
He said the aim was to double the number of young people taking part in accredited volunteering over the next three years from ages 8-22 adding: “It’s not about ticking boxes or charities having to babysit young people. It’s about embedding a sense of service from an early age inspiring young people to give back to the community by making a real impact with their time.”
The project, to be launched in the presence of a Royal guest in January, is Anglo-Jewry’s response to a national campaign Step Up to Serve, launched by Prince Charles and the main political party leaders at Buckingham Palace last week.
JLGB has been heavily involved in the build-up to the national initiative and its president Lord Levy, who attended the launch with Neil Martin and JLGB member Matthew Kemp, said: “I will step up and help all young people to have every opportunity to serve others by encouraging the Jewish community through its schools, synagogues, charities, communities and businesses to do even more to engage and support young volunteers to have a positive impact on society.”
Also backing the initiative, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “We are obliged, as a religious imperative, to take responsibility not only for ourselves and our own lives but for the lives of others – our families, our communities and the society in which we live. Through engaging young people in the altruistic service of society, we bring about social change in a most powerful way. We better society, and through stepping up to serve, we ourselves are bettered.”
Step Up To Serve was launched in conjunction with a national pledge initiative called #iwill which included personal commitments from the Prince of Wales and David Cameron as well as more than 60 organisations from business, education, faith, youth and voluntary sectors.