Many library services have found that working with young volunteers has really helped relieve pressure on staff during the busy summer period. Meanwhile volunteers get some fantastic new skills and experience for their CVs. Last year 8,126 volunteers aged 12-24 make the Challenge a roaring success. An Impact Study conducted by OPM in 2014 suggests that volunteering impacts positively on young people, enables them to make a positive difference to their local area and places young people at the centre of the volunteering offer in libraries, places an 'emphasis on developing certain sets of skills that improve employability and are known to help prepare young people for the realities of work.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteer roles can vary but certain tasks are commonly undertaken. These are:
Helping staff to administer the Challenge
Talking to children about the books they've been reading
Helping children to choose new books
Helping with summer activities
Helping to create in-library displays
Volunteers from Westminster has this to say about their 2012 Summer Reading Challenge volunteering experience:
Benefits for libraries
Support with the time-consuming work involved in the Summer Reading Challenge
A more youthful image
The enthusiasm and fresh perspective of young people
A link with local communities
Help to deliver activities
Staff confidence in working positively with young people
Listen to Nathan Davies of Callington Library discuss his experiences of working with Summer Reading Challenge Activists below.
Benefits for volunteers
Valuable work experience
A reference for employment
The opportunity to develop confidence, social skills, employment opportunities and literacy skills
The opportunity to make a positive contribution to their communities
This year, young volunteers will be part of the Reading Hack programme, that see's young people getting involved with reading inspired activities, reading volunteering and inspiring their peers to read.The summer website will feature competitions and an ideas bank where volunteers can add their own hack activity ideas for things to do with other volunteers, with children or alone at quiet moments in the library.
If you're a young person hoping to volunteer with the Summer Reading Challenge this year get in touch with your local library and take a look at what previous volunteers say about their experience.