YouthNet blogs are written by YouthNet staff and volunteers. We write about anything and everything related to our services and interests. We’re a varied bunch, so our blogs are too. Enjoy.

Panic attacks are a monster of a problem for young people, but you don’t have to be under X-Factor pressure to experience them, says YouthNet

PRESS RELEASE – 13 October 2014

YouthNet, the online charity for young people, is today (13 October) launching The Panic Attack Monster – an online awareness campaign aiming to de-stigmatise and de-mystify panic attacks among young people.

In the past week alone, it’s been reported that X-Factor contestant Helen Fulthorpe has had a suspected panic attack, while schoolboy Charlie has bravely spoken out

about his panic attacks on Channel 4’s Educating the East End. Fashion blogger Zoella has also revealed she has them. Yet despite the headlines, panic attacks are commonly misunderstood. The reality is they can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and you don’t have to be under X-Factor type pressure to experience them.

YouthNet, which is the charity behind digital life-line TheSite, has created a series of 30 second videos starring The Panic Attack Monster – a fictional character who represents how it feels to have a panic attack.

Panic attacks are experienced by a third of young women and one in ten young men in the UK.* Despite this, panic attacks are widely misunderstood. Many young people who have panic attacks don’t fully understand what they are experiencing or where to get advice on how to cope with them. They can often feel they aren’t being taken seriously and feel stigmatised.

Panic attacks are severe attacks of anxiety and fear that often come on without warning and can last up to 20 minutes.  They cause a number of symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, shaking, elevated pulse, and an intense feeling of needing to catch a breath.  Panic attacks can even make you think you’re about to die, though you’re not actually in any danger.

The Panic Attack Monster character in the campaign is an unpleasant character in a green furry suit with demonic horns.  He can attack any time, but everyday scenarios depicted in the campaign, include: being in a contained space such as a lift, being at the cinema, and social situations like approaching someone you don’t know in a bar.

YouthNet Chief Executive, Emma Thomas, says: “You don’t have to be under X-Factor pressure to experience a panic attack, they are commonly experienced in ordinary, everyday situations. Yet young people who come to TheSite seeking support, often tell us they don’t want to admit they experience panic attacks for fear they’ll be misunderstood by their family and friends. Many say they are worried they are ‘going crazy’ and feel very isolated as a result. We know that young men in particular, are less likely to open up about having panic attacks.

“We hope that through using humour in our Panic Attack Monster campaign, we can get more young people talking about panic attacks and begin to reduce the stigma surrounding them. We can’t stop young people from experiencing the terror of panic attacks, but we want them to understand them better, so they can seek the support and advice they need.

The Panic Attack Monster campaign is at home on YouTube. There are four thirty second adverts being released over the next three weeks.

To visit The Panic Attack Monster, please go to: www.TheSite.org/PanicAttackMonster

You can further support the campaign by signing up to our social Thunderclap – to help young people tame the Panic Attack Monster – and break down the taboos surrounding him:

Ends

* Source: Prince’s Trust. January 2014

Notes to editor:

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year.

The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.

YouthNet has developed a range of complementary digital services to support young people:

  • TheSite – the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds, with 2,000 articles/videos/blogs about job seeking, housing, sexual health,
    mental wellbeing, drugs and more
  • StepFinder – Local help, easily found. An app that pin-points the nearest local support service and shows young people how to get there and what to expect.
  • Madly In Love- A digital service where young people can share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.
  • Makewav.es – YouthNet contributes to this social learning environment, which provides social media for education.
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Junior PHP Developer (1 year contract)

YouthNet is looking for a Junior PHP Developer to work aside our existing technical team.
The role offers opportunity to grow your skills under the mentorship of our Lead Developer. You will have an opportunity to work on varies projects, including our core flagship service, TheSite.org.

You will work alongside our Lead Developer and Front-End Developer to develop digital solutions. Working in a small team will give you the opportunity to learn different elements of software development, being involved from scoping through to implementation and release. It is essential that you have the ability to communicate and exchange ideas with technical and non-technical team members.

About YouthNet

YouthNet is the UK’s first exclusively online charity providing trusted, non-judgemental emotional support and guidance to thousands of young people across the UK every day about the issues that affect their lives. Whether it’s emergency help in times of crisis, support with everyday issues, or getting involved in their community, YouthNet is always there for them 24/7.

Main tasks and responsibilities:

  • To work with team members to scope out possible solutions to requirements.
  • Maintain and develop code according to requirements.
  • Ensure developed work is delivered fully tested.
  • Participate in daily stand-up (update), bi-weekly planning and retrospective meetings.

Essential skills:

  • 1+ years’ experience of software development experience in PHP5
  • Experience building websites with WordPress (Portfolio required)
  • Good understanding of WordPress 3.x structure, plugins, themes and templates
  • PHP 5.3+ (OOP)
  • HTML/CSS
  • Experience of Javascript development
  • MySQL

Desirable skills:

  • Experience with version control systems, preferably GIT.
  • Experience with Agile methodologies, preferably Scrum.
  • Familiarity with design and architectural patterns such as Model-View-Controller (MVC)
  • Understanding of Test Driven Development (TDD)/Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD)

Personal skills:

  • Ability to deliver to tight deadlines
  • Delivery focused, self motivated and ability to plan workload
  • Good verbal and written communication and team player
  • Good analytical skills with attention to details
  • Willingness and ability to learn

Reporting to: Lead Developer
Location: The organisation’s head office, in Old Street, London

Terms and Conditions
Salary: £24k per annum.
Contact type: 1 year fixed contract
Annual Leave: 33 days per your pro rata which includes the 8 bank holidays
Hours: 9.30 – 5.30, Monday to Friday (with some out of hours and weekend work) YouthNet offers flexible working where appropriate.
Start date: As soon as possible

Closing date: 11th Nov
Interview dates: 13th and 14th Nov

To apply, please send your CV and a short letter explaining why you are interested in the role and examples of your recent work to workforus@youthnet.org. (No agency please).

 

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YouthNet volunteer weekender

At the end of July, volunteers from across four different project groups met in London to share their knowledge and experiences of being a YouthNet volunteer.

During 2014, YouthNet has been running four project groups, each one relating to an area of our work. The groups are composed of a team of young volunteers who are acting as our consultants and every month we launch a set of activities for them to get involved in. To date we’ve had an anxiety and depression project group (DA Warriors), a youth employability project group (Job Squad), an app creation project group (Project Magenta) and TheSite.org’s community redevelopment project group (Community Champions).

After a fantastic weekend, three of our volunteers, Jack, Becki and Claire wrote individual blogs about the weekend and I’m going to try my best to do them justice by featuring parts of their blogs to paint a full picture.

The agenda for the weekend

The focus of the weekend was giving volunteers the tools, confidence and language to speak about their volunteering with YouthNet to friends, family and potential employers. To bring that to life, we organised for a representative from Speakers Trust to join us Saturday afternoon, but first the volunteers from the different project groups got together to reflect on their experience.

Jack – “Our workshop leader made us confident to speak on what we’re passionate about.”

“As there was such a diverse blend, the initial activity got us to reflect, or anticipate, on the emotions, successes and challenges we’ve faced in our individual groups. Some of the benefits of taking part were unsurprisingly similar – writing blogs, contributing to the work of the organisation and receiving great opportunities as a result of our volunteering.

Following that, a special visit from the Speakers Trust came to get us up on our feet and more able when speaking to an audience. Focusing on some of our initial anxieties about this activity, our workshop leader sought to debunk some of these inhibiting fears and make us confident enough to speak on what we’re most passionate about. The exercises tested our ability to think on the spot when being just given a topic, or even an object, to speak on.”

Becki – “Despite being scared of public speaking, I spoke from the heart and made everyone cry.”

“I hate talking in front of people and never in a million years thought I’d be able to do it… But I did! Whilst I was standing in front of everyone every inch of me was shaking. But I knew that if I didn’t push myself, I’d never be able to do it. My final speech was quite an emotional one. We had to talk about why we volunteered for YouthNet. I spun it around a bit and spoke about the weekend mostly and the things I felt I achieved. Helen said to speak from the heart and that’s exactly what I did. But I made all the staff cry, including myself. Sorry guys!”

Claire – “Volunteering has changed me as a person.”

“The speeches were very inspiring, some of the lovely speeches about how much volunteering with YouthNet has helped them. I for one also agree how much volunteering with YouthNet has changed me as a person. I love every minute of it, and I love helping.”

Introducing our latest volunteer project group – community champions

In honour of our recently launched community champions group, on the Sunday we changed gears slightly and as a team we put our heads together to think of ways on how we could further engage TheSite.org’s online community. Community Champion volunteers are injecting their innovative and brilliant ideas into all aspects of TheSite.org’s online community: live chats, discussion board, layout and even content, to ensure that TheSite.org’s community continues to be fresh and a place where young people feel safe and comfortable. In order to help them kick start the project, we all contributed our ideas on TheSite.org as we know it and how we want to know it.

Jack – “Sharing ideas on how to improve TheSite.org.”

“Today’s focus would be put onto their online service, TheSite, and to share ideas on how improvements or changes can be made. The activity for this included how the group would imagine the website as a political party or a music festival! As odd as those similarities may sound, there were various aspects which we found TheSite could benefit from, like VIP benefits and meetings among website volunteers. From that, we then stuck our own post-it notes on what next steps we would like to see TheSite take to improve its services.”

Becki – “Until next time.”

“Before I knew it, it was time to go home. I was a bit disappointed actually because I had such an amazing weekend I didn’t want it to end! So thank you to everyone that helped me have an enjoyable weekend and hopefully I will see you all soon.”

I’d like to echo Becki’s final words and say thank you to everyone who was involved in such a brilliant weekender. Until the next one in October!

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Digital charity YouthNet announces the appointment of a new Chair

Luke Taylor, Global Chief Executive of the world’s leading marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi will become the new Chair of YouthNet, following the decision to step down by current Chair and Founder, Martyn Lewis.Lewis has been Chair of YouthNet, which provides digital support for 16 to 25 year-olds, since creating the charity in 1994.

A well-known television journalist, Lewis has been involved in the charity sector for more than 30 years, holding several trustee and Chair posts.Speaking about his decision to step down, Lewis said:

“As Chair, I have a clear duty of care to the charity I founded to ensure it is fully equipped to take advantage of the rapid changes in the digital revolution to deliver the support young people need. A key part of that is choosing the time to hand over the baton to a successor with a formidable track record in digital innovation. Luke fits the bill perfectly. I couldn’t be more delighted that he is taking the helm, and am confident that he will work extremely well with our inspired Chief Executive, Emma Thomas, to further develop YouthNet’s digital support for the benefit for young people in the UK today.

“It is 20 years since I founded YouthNet. It is embedded in my DNA, and I would like to thank the many wonderful people and organisations who have given the charity so much help and support along the way. I am honoured that Luke and the Board have asked me to remain involved and become YouthNet’s ‘Founder At Large’, so that I can still be available to help in whatever way I can.”

Incoming Chair, Taylor, has been Global Chief Executive of marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi since 2013. Prior to this he was Global Chief Executive of public-listed LBi, where he implemented a series of successful strategic transformations to ensure that the agency thrived in the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.

Talking about his new role with YouthNet, Taylor said: “YouthNet’s innovative approach to developing digital support for young people is truly inspiring. It’s hard to think of another charity so in tune with young people’s needs and so entrepreneurial in spirit.

“I feel privileged to be taking over the position of Chair from such an esteemed founder and look forward to helping YouthNet achieve its ambition of reaching even more young people with its unique brand of support and advice.”

YouthNet supports 1 million young people each year through a range of digital support, primarily through its flagship service, TheSite.org, which helps them to develop the social and emotional skills, resilience and determination to cope with life’s challenges.

Chief Executive, Emma Thomas said: “Martyn has worked tirelessly to champion the needs of young people, the powerful role of digital, and YouthNet’s continued delivery of services which make a difference.  It has been a real pleasure to work with him.  Whilst he is stepping down, I am pleased that he will stay connected and grateful for his continued support.

“We are delighted to welcome Luke to the Board and know he will be a great addition to the organisation as we develop further innovative new digital services to impact on young people’s lives and look to support 1.6m young people a year by 2016.”

-ends-
Notes to editorsAll media enquiries: Zoe Bailie, YouthNet, 020 7250 5713Email: zoe.bailie@youthnet.orgNote that Martyn will be continuing as Chair of NCVO, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Families of the Fallen.

About YouthNet

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year.

The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.YouthNet has developed a range of complementary digital services to support young people:

  • TheSite – the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds, with 2,000 articles/videos/blogs about job seeking, housing, sexual health,mental wellbeing, drugs and more
  • StepFinder – Local help, easily found. An app that pin-points the nearest local support service and shows young people how to get there and what to expect.
  • Madly In Love- A digital service where young people can share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.
  • Makewav.es – YouthNet contributes to this social learning environment, which provides social media for education.

About DigitasLBi

DigitasLBi is a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age. We help companies of all shapes and sizes decide what’s next… and then we take them there. In 25 countries around the world, across 40 offices, there are more than 6,700 digital experts working to enrich people’s lives via our unique blend of strategy, creativity, media and technology.

Our skills span insight, brand building, content creation and distribution, as well as the ability to help clients organise themselves for the consequences of the change. We act as strategic partner to some of the world’s most exciting brands across travel, financial services, FMCG, publishing, telecoms and retail.

There are many things that make DigitasLBi unique but if we had to choose one it would be our ability to connect data with storytelling to help make brands special, shareable and more ultimately valuable wherever, whenever and however people choose to engage with them.

 

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YouthNet Live – London Technology Week

Yesterday, amidst the buzz of London Technology Week, YouthNet gathered with over thirty corporate organisations for the fifth of our Cycle of Innovation events at the wonderful Think Big Hub in Shoreditch.

It was a chance to immerse guests in how YouthNet uses technology to support thousands with their employability through our digital lifeline TheSite.org.

It included hands-on demonstrations of our services alongside the Job Squad – a group of young volunteers who’ve been integral to shaping our work into employability.

Indeed, by working with our Job Squad to look at young people’s employability needs and the gaps digital could look to fill, YouthNet has identified four key areas that together offer comprehensive support into employability which were shared with guests.

These are that young people require:

  • Emotional support to keep young people motivated and resilient
  • Better able to benefit from practical support
  • To realise the skills and experience they have to offer
  • To plot a path into suitable employment by understanding their options and what employers are looking for

It was a fantastic opportunity to show guests that by creating the right support at the start of a young person’s journey and throughout, we can help deliver to these needs and in turn, support young people toward becoming more resilient, more motivated and to understand their strengths so they can make the most of the practical support on offer to get them into work.

Staff and young people from YoutNet’s Job squad were able to demonstrate the power of YouthNet’s emotional support, which is so crucial for young people to be able to access in parallel to practical support, being delivered via our content, the peer to peer community boards and our Live chat services on TheSite.org.

Indeed, Juliet one of our young keynote speakers today, said that without support around resilience and self-knowledge, practical support can be hard to use to its full potential.

“When you keep getting rejected from jobs it can dampen your confidence. It’s hard to pick yourself up.”

Guests were also treated to an insight into Goal Guru, a new digital product developed by YouthNet, our young volunteers and O2 Think Big – that uses push notifications to keep a young person motivated and has just gone into production –  exactly the kind of employability support that digital could look to fill.

Some of us might have forgotten just what a key transition into adulthood this is – a transition that sees a young person move from the structured, supported environment of school to increased independence and getting by on their own.

Not surprisingly, this challenge can be daunting and the rejection it sometimes entails demoralising. Young people can feel unprepared and unsupported so we need to work together to develop solutions that will help them on this complex journey.

For me, it was inspiring to be in a room with so many others who share a passion for supporting young people to achieve their potential and the belief that digital can provide new, truly innovative solutions to improving young people’s employability.

It takes strong partnerships to deliver the right support for young people and we look forward to continuing the many conversations that were started .

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank our Job squad – all of whom are at different stages in their employment journey and who have played a vital role in sharing their personal experiences and creativity to seek to help more young people by working alongside YouthNet.

Also to the brilliant AJ King from Kiss FM who took the time out  to share his experience with us, Ben Plain from O2, the staff at O2’s Think Big Hub and of course each and every one of our guests for coming along.

 

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Volunteers’ Week: Sharing our stories- Jack

To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 to 7 June) we asked some of amazing YouthNet volunteers to share their thoughts on why they volunteer.

Here’s Jack’s blog…Jack Welch

Having known YouthNet through a number of the youth projects in volunteering across a number of local and national organisations, I finally discovered a way to be involved in March this year as they recruited for their new ‘Job Squad’ through the social media networks I often use to discover opportunities and events going on beyond my local area. But what exactly was ‘Job Squad’, I asked myself? As it turned out, finding this new project through social media turned out to be very appropriate for the occasion, as YouthNet are going through a period of research (known as the ‘Cycle of Innovation’) where they are essentially looking into the digital tools that supported young people into finding employment. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a young person who would help the charity support their findings into some of the challenges our generation faces at the moment and inputting into their ideas for a creation of a new digital source which may just help more young people become ‘job ready’ and prepared for the wider world.

I’m very excited to see the results from our research with the charity, as each session has offered an inventive and stimulating formula in looking at the various needs young people have in finding a job in different areas of the country. As a university student that has now finished my degree, it will be great to see if any new effective tools for job searching will help people such as myself pursue an ideal place for employment.

The project’s been a great way to practice my team-work and communication skills, as well as using my own initiative when it came to creating my own ideas for some of the exercises involved. I very much hope to stay involved with future YouthNet activities and support their work for getting a wide array of young people in the country in putting their digital skills for good use.

Our thanks to Jack for his blog and continued support. YouthNet works with 263 volunteers who support us in all areas of our services. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, take a look at our current opportunities
or get in touch via volunteer@youthnet.org

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Volunteers’ Week: Sharing our stories

To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 to 7 June) we asked some of amazing YouthNet volunteers to share their thoughts on why they volunteer.

Here’s Lauren’s blog…

My name’s Lauren, I’ve attended a weekender with YouthNet working on a mobile app for handling stress and I also help out on the boards on TheSite, something I began back in January however despite beginning 4 months back it hasn’t taken hours and hours of my life away. The boards are where topics are discussed and advice given, its similar to meeting a friend for coffee as you’re engaging with real people who perhaps want support or just a good movie recommendation. Where its all online there’s no pressure to contribute where you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the time.

I went for it because being a college student I feel now is the time to begin giving back, I’m at the stage I can look after myself but am not yet living alone and facing a mountain of responsibilities; I have the time and should give some up for others.

Skill-wise I’d say I’ve gained the ability to distance myself (not get too attached to those I’ve just met) while putting myself in their shoes at the same time therefore allowing me to compassionately provide advice where I can. I’ve not done any voluntary work before YouthNet and found it was a very nurturing place to start as I never felt alone or unable to do anything.

Our thanks to Lauren for her blog and continued support. YouthNet works with 263 volunteers who support us in all areas of our services. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, take a look at our current opportunities or get in touch via volunteer@youthnet.org

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Volunteers’ Week: Sharing our stories

To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 to 7 June) we asked some of amazing YouthNet volunteers to share their thoughts on why they volunteer.

Here, Gareth Milner tells us about his time as a volunteer…

I currently undertake moderation of the online ‘forum/message board’ at TheSite.org, an extremely valuable online resource for those aged 16-25, run by the charity YouthNet. I first started as a user of YouthNet’s services and subsequently developed into a volunteer.

My involvement with YouthNet began over 10 years ago. I’ve known and seen many staff come and go, yet there has always been dedication amongst them all – past and present – to provide sheer excellence in terms of supporting young people in a modern and fast moving society.

In the past I have used holiday time from work – I’m a soon to be former soldier – to help out at YouthNet’s office in central London, in addition to volunteering in a virtual online capacity. During my volunteering I’ve assisted with various working groups and projects to improve and develop services provided by YouthNet.

During a quiet period of downtime in 2012, I was even able to moderate the community message boards from a laptop in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

YouthNet and its services helped me when I needed support, the peer based support element is invaluable. TheSite isn’t just about solving problems or issues people feel they have, there are also several fact sheets and information pages.

I continue helping as a volunteer to improve and advance the work that YouthNet undertake with TheSite, primarily because I recognise the value that YouthNet and TheSite provides young people.

In an increasingly interconnected world, online peer support and advice is paramount to enable young people to find the help they need and want. The commitment of YouthNet’s core staff combined with the enthusiasm of its army of volunteers provides something akin to magic.

Whilst I can only speak with authority about my own experiences, volunteering with YouthNet – to me – is about giving something back to help that magic continue. For volunteers within this fine organisation, it’s hard to feel anything other than a sense of selfless commitment towards a charity investing so heavily in the future of a generation.

Our thanks to Gareth for his blog and continued support. YouthNet works with 263 volunteers who support us in all areas of our services. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, take a look at our current opportunities or get in touch via volunteer@youthnet.org

 

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Volunteers’ Week: Sharing our stories- Cheryl

To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 to 7 June) we asked some of amazing YouthNet volunteers to share their thoughts on why they volunteer.

Here’s Cheryl’s blog…

Hey, my name is Cheryl and my role within YouthNet is a relationship advisor (in training). I give people between the ages of 16-25 advice on their relationships which they are having issues with. They can ask questions freely on Ask a Question and I will reply back to them within three working days. I can also write on the discussion boards and start topics of conversation between users. I started this role in March of this year. I study Psychology at the moment and thought this would be a great opportunity to get involved with helping people in their day to day lives. I felt it would be really great experience to reflect on further down the line. I have learnt to be very impartial with certain types of situation and try to see both sides when you only have half of the story in front of you. It has really enhanced my listening skills and writing skills also.

At the beginning of this year I had started volunteering with Kids Company – a charity which helps vulnerable children. I have been working in a school for a few months now voluntarily helping the children with school work in class and also running the girls football club at lunch time, I have also started a befriending role with Mind, a mental health organisation.

Our thanks to Cheryl for her blog and continued support. YouthNet works with 263 volunteers who support us in all areas of our services. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, take a look at our current opportunities or get in touch via volunteer@youthnet.org

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Volunteers’ Week: Thank You!

YouthNet’s volunteers offer their time, energy and brains to so many different and challenging roles within YouthNet – without our volunteers we couldn’t reach and support as many young people as we do.

We ask a lot of our volunteers and they never fail to deliver. One week, they could be running an online live chat session giving advice and support to other young people – the next, asked to pitch their ideas to senior members of YouthNet and O2 – the next, responding to a bespoke relationship question.

With our opportunities ranging from app co-creation to relationship advice and support, our volunteers are versatile and unique. Some complete all their volunteering and training online from home, such as our roving photographers, which means we can recruit and involve young people from across the UK.

YouthNet offer a variety of different volunteering  roles. These are sometimes medium term projects, with a commitment of up to six months, like our Employability Project Group volunteers and our Relationship Advisors (we have a couple of blogs from our Relationship Advisors coming up later this week).  Some are longer term ongoing commitments, such as our Live Chat and Board Moderator roles. Alongside our roles we offer online training and accreditation options, supporting our volunteers to develop and gain skills.

We currently involve over 200 volunteers from across the UK. Our volunteers, like the people we support, are mostly aged 16-25 and without them we wouldn’t be able to offer the peer support that is so vital. Without our volunteers we wouldn’t understand young people like we do, or create the products and content that we do. Without our volunteers our services wouldn’t matter to as many young people as they currently do.

Volunteers Week is about celebrating and recognising the contribution of our volunteers. At YouthNet we aim to do that every day, but want to take this opportunity to say thank you and give them the public recognition and thanks that they deserve.

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, take a look at our current opportunities or get in touch via volunteer@youthnet.org

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