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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions we’re often asked. Can’t find what you’re looking for or would like to know more? Please get in touch.

What is City Year UK?
We are a registered charity, established in 2010, which challenges young people to tackle educational inequality through a year of full-time social action in schools. As volunteer mentors, they become tutors and role models to children from disadvantaged communities, helping with academic attainment, behaviour, attendance and well-being.

Our volunteers have an impact on children’s lives, but we also have an impact on our volunteers – helping develop their own personal and professional skills for their future careers. In its first ten years, around 1,300 young people have taken part in a City Year in the UK.

Why choose City Year UK?
City Year UK not only gives young people the opportunity to be part of a team tackling educational inequality in this country; as a structured, year-long social action programme, it develops stand out skills. Real world experience is underpinned by training, coaching and networking in a professional environment.

Our leadership development programme is specially designed to help our volunteer mentors secure employment or progress to higher education.

What employability skills does City Year UK develop?
City Year UK has undertaken its own research into the skills and attributes that employers are most looking for when recruiting young people. They reported that communication, confidence, negotiation and influencing skills are among the most difficult to acquire, while other highly desired skills include teamwork, self-awareness and problem solving. A year of structured social action, like City Year UK, is uniquely positioned to develop these skills (alongside many others); through frontline experience in school and our concurrent training and coaching.

All our volunteer mentors have access to their own mentor. Typically a business professional from one of our partner organisations, they act as a sounding board throughout the programme and support our volunteers as they take their next step after City Year. We also offer the opportunity to access an accredited course focused on team management.

What financial and associated support does City Year UK offer?
Volunteer mentors receive:

  • Living expenses up to £4,400 a year in London and £3,960 in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester.
  • Reimbursement for any travel expenses incurred as a result of City Year activities.
  • Support with financial management through training, workshops and online tools.
  • Access to the City Year Hardship fund, if eligible.
  • Free uniform.

They may also be eligible to claim certain forms of benefit from the Government, such as Housing Benefits or Council Tax Reduction. More information is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Those completing City Year as a university placement year are still able to claim student finance and should contact their university or Student Finance for more information.

Other useful resources can be found at Volunteer England and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

What support do volunteer mentors receive?
City Year UK is a shared experience, with volunteer mentors contributing to and benefitting from the support of their team members. Each team also has a dedicated member of City Year UK staff overseeing them in school. Known as an impact officer, they are there to provide management, training and pastoral care.

In addition, each volunteer mentor has access to their own mentor, typically a business professional from one of our partner organisations, and receives their own personal development plan to support their leadership development.

How do universities view a year out?
Universities generally see the advantages of deferred entry and welcome the maturity and motivation, as well as the additional experience, that an applicant who has taken a year out can bring to their degree. Relevant experience will support university applications and make personal statements stand out.

How far are volunteer mentors expected to travel?
Our partner schools are based in London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester so we ask that our volunteer mentors live in these regions or are able to travel to their respective school in under 90 minutes.

When assigning volunteer mentors to schools we always consider their geographical location and travel time and try and match them with a school in a convenient location.

Can volunteer mentors choose which school they are assigned to?
While volunteer mentors can’t choose which school they are based in, they can give a preference of being placed in a primary or secondary school. Although not guaranteed, preferences are taken into consideration, alongside a volunteer mentor’s location and the skill sets they’ve shown through the assessment process.

How to apply and when:
City Year UK recruits on an ongoing basis for an August start and we advise that applications are made early to secure a place. Register your interest here.

Will City Year UK allow applicants to defer for a year?
City Year UK recruits on an ongoing basis and we welcome applications for next year’s programme. Register your interest here.

Is there anyone to speak to before applying?
We have a dedicated recruitment team who are happy to answer any questions. Please contact: recruitment@cityyear.org.uk.

Do volunteer mentors need a degree?
No. We accept applications from young people who are studying for, or who have completed, A-Levels or a level 3 qualification.

How does City Year UK support applicants with a disability?
We welcome applications from candidates with disabilities and will work with applicants to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate needs in the assessment process. If the applicant is successful, we will discuss reasonable adjustments that need to be made throughout the programme.

What is a DBS check?
All applicants must complete an enhanced DBS check which helps us make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with children. All successful applicants are supported through the DBS process and City Year UK pays for each application. More information about what ID documents are used to process DBS checks can be found here.

Will City Year UK consider applications from those with a previous offence (caution, reprimand, or formal warning) or previous disciplinary matter?
All applicants must satisfactorily complete the enhanced DBS check. We ask that all applicants disclose any details on their self-declaration form and if successful, we will contact them to set up a safeguarding panel meeting where their situation will be reviewed. Please contact recruitment@cityyear.org.uk with any questions.

Will City Year UK sponsor visas for international students?
As part of our entry requirements we ask that all applicants have the right to live and work in the UK. We do not sponsor visas for international applicants.

Do you give feedback on application forms or assessment centre performance?
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive, we are unable to give feedback at the application stage, but we do give feedback after you’ve been to an assessment centre.

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