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City Year UK welcomes new approaches to national community service

Group of volunteer mentors in red jackets

As an organisation that has seen first-hand the power of a year of service for young people and their communities, City Year UK welcomes new approaches to national community service. Our experience offers a proof point for the power of national service to engage young people to make a tangible difference in their communities.

Through our work with over 1,750 young adults, we have seen how purposeful and driven they can be in giving back to their communities when they are given meaningful and accessible opportunities to do so. We have long advocated for greater recognition of the value in young people doing a national community service year, supporting charities to tackle our nation’s most pressing challenges and for 15 years, we have served as an ‘action tank’ for how it can work in the education sector.

For the last three years, City Year UK has been part of and helped to shape the UK Year of Service pilot, along with the NCS Trust and 13 other national charities. Our collective mission is to unlock the power of the next generation to help solve some of our toughest post-pandemic challenges, putting them into positions of paid work, while helping communities where the needs are the greatest. To date, more than 300 young people have benefitted from the experience and progressed into further education, employment or training after their service.



As we see it, the key ingredients of a successful national service scheme are:

  • Long-term, full-time opportunities, so that young people can immerse themselves in community service, see their impact day-to-day and longer-term, grow professionally themselves, and develop as our leaders of tomorrow.
  • Clear focus on the triple bottom line, where the impact on those who serve, the communities they serve, and society are measured.
  • Paying a living wage rather than just volunteer expenses in order to ensure the opportunities are accessible to all, not only to those who can afford them.
  • Finding innovative ways of funding this critical work, such as giving businesses a bit more flexibility in how they use their un-utilised Apprenticeship Levy funds to enable a programme of national community service to be delivered without any extra public cost and give businesses a stake in helping to up-skill the UK’s future workforce.

We know that our young people have the drive, determination and desire to make a big difference in the world, if they are given the right opportunities to do so. We believe that a successful approach will offer a framework which provides meaningful and purposeful chances to give-back, and accessibility for every young person to participate.

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