We know that many schools struggle to provide authentic encounters with employers and employees in line with Gatsby Benchmark number five, and to provide genuine experiences of workplaces as recommended by benchmark six.

This can be even more difficult for Careers Leaders seeking to offer meaningful encounters for students in medical and health settings. However, this case study shows that great opportunities can be provided in these settings, particularly through volunteering.

The NHS employs over a million people in England, this means that in most communities, a large number of pupils could go on to be employed by the NHS.  Helping your pupils to understand the career options that the NHS offers should therefore be a priority for careers education. Youth Social Action (YSA) through volunteering in the NHS can be one way of doing this and, although as a careers leader in school you may not be able to set up volunteering experiences in the health sector yourself, there is lots of potential for you to work in partnership to do so.

The Pears Foundation, in partnership with the #iwill Fund, are working with the NHS to increase participation in Youth Social Action (YSA) within the healthcare sector.  This is in line with the NHS's plan to create more opportunities for young people.  As part of the programme, youth volunteer coordinators and managers are working across England to develop high quality, inclusive opportunities for young people to engage with the NHS whilst developing their employability and life skills.  Importantly, the programme hopes to improve patient and visitor experiences in the process.  You can find a list of trusts currently involved in the programme here but the longer term ambition is to spread youth volunteering opportunities in the NHS across the country so it is worth contacting your local hospital or trust to seek out the most relevant staff.

The purpose of this case study is to show how partnerships work in practice, and to offer guidance that should make it easier to collaborate. We have therefore included example resources and although we are not saying these are gold standard, vetted templates, they should help you build partnerships and to provide high quality youth social action that meets the Gatsby benchmarks.

We have based this case study on discussions with volunteer coordinators and managers in four different NHS Trusts and Charities in order to:

  • Help you understand what Youth Social Action (YSA) within the NHS and wider healthcare sector could look like;
  • Help you understand how you might work with relevant staff to organise opportunities for young people in your school; and,
  • What you should think about in order to make the experience a success