Prince's Trust Volunteers aims to provide a personal development programme of the highest quality for as many young people (16-25) as possible. Our aim is to enable teams of young people, from diverse backgrounds, to work in the community and to give them the incentive to continue to make a contribution of lasting impact both on themselves and their communities. It is essential that each team is recruited from a cross section of the local community, drawn from both sides of the cultural divide encompassing employed and unemployed and from differing educational backgrounds including those disadvantaged socially and economically.
A prime objective of this programme is to challenge and change attitudes of young people by providing them with a safe and supportive environment in which to express themselves, to listen, to share, to respect and to co-operate with other young people with different beliefs and values to their own. It also challenges participants to explore the needs of their local communities on both sides of the cultural divide and look at ways in which they, as volunteers, can contribute to the welfare of the community as individuals and as a team. The programme is franchised out to voluntary and statutory organisations which are contracted to run three 12 week programmes per year, recruiting a team of 12-15 young people for each programme. Currently there are 8 programmes running at 7 locations throughout the province and WEF from September 1997 will have 10 programmes running at 8 locations. We also intend to provide a short modular option (20 Days) linking into the standard 12 week programme from September 1997, to provide access to the programme for those at present excluded from part-time participation.
The PSEPII funds have encouraged voluntary organisations to take
on the running of the programme, as the funding has been used
to ensure the franchises are able to meet the costs of the programme.
As a result of the grant, franchises can cover the cost of the
residentials in particular which enable and encourage the cross-community
element of the programme. Since receiving the funds (September
1995 to date) 504 young people have participated in the programme
including 390 unemployed. These disadvantaged young people have
been helped by preparation for work and a post-programme survey
indicates that 84% of unemployed volunteers have either found
work or have moved into further education or training. Other
benefits include volunteering in the community and value to the
community. Post-programme survey forms indicate that 61% of participants
continue to volunteer within their own communities and there were
504 successful placements in community based organisations, 41
minor projects and 41 major projects completed in the community
by teams of volunteers. Further details can be found in the latest
report of the Northern Ireland Management Committee.