Kate Van der Plank, National Grid’s Head of UK Community Investment, tells us more about an initiative that is encouraging young people to be more actively involved in their local communities.
Step up to serve
“National Grid welcomes the Campaign for Youth Social Action and sees this as a win/win for society, young people and businesses like ours."
Steve Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, National Grid
Our goal is to double the number of young people taking part in social action to over 50 per cent by 2020.
Source: National Grid
National Grid welcomes the Step Up 2 Serve initiative and, as I write this blog, I’m thinking about my trip to Buckingham Palace tomorrow, to take part in the launch of this campaign.
I am really excited and pleased to see this initiative come to fruition, having been part of its evolution over the last 12 months. We’re really proud to be one of the pioneer businesses on this campaign.
The aim of Step Up 2 Serve is to encourage young people to be more actively involved in their local communities, whether by helping those in need, such as the elderly or people with disabilities, or getting involved with youth organisations that have volunteering at the heart of what they do, such as the Scouts, City Year or Teach First.
Our goal is to double the number of young people taking part in social action to over 50 per cent by 2020. That would mean an additional 1.7 million young people involved in practical action in the service of others. Achieving this will need the involvement of us all.
So to make this happen, we are asking individuals and organisations to pledge their support through #iwill, at www.stepuptoserve.org.uk. Over 50 pledges have been made already from a range of partners across all sectors – helping to unlock the opportunities and encourage young people to take action in the service of others.
I am proud to have been involved in shaping and developing this campaign and I have also had a tremendous response and support from colleagues within National Grid, in developing our pledges to support this campaign. It’s not every day that you get to work on something with such unanimous appeal and rationale that it is a ‘no brainer’. But I really think that this campaign is it.
Whichever way you look at it, getting young people more involved in social action has to be a good thing for everyone.
They benefit from the opportunity to develop and gain skills, as employers we gain from having much more confident and ‘work ready’ new recruits and, as a society, we all gain from the time, energy and enthusiasm young people can give to the wealth of charity and community projects that really need their support.
The launch event is being hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales and includes senior party political leaders. We’re delighted that our Steve Holliday, our Chief Executive Officer, will be joined at the launch by one of our apprentices, Sam Smith, who is a great example of the contribution young people can make to our society.
Sam is currently a substation apprentice employed on a three-year scheme whereby he will achieve his City and Guilds in Electrical Transmission and distribution and qualify as a substation craftsman.
As well as working and studying, Sam is actively involved in social action. He joined the Scouts (one of our charity partners), at the age of five and was a member right up until 18, when he became a Scout leader, running his own troop. He also spent four years as a Special Constable for Essex Police Constabulary, volunteering to protect his community.
Sam has continued his volunteering having joined National Grid and we are delighted to have his support on our community programme. He has already volunteered at several careers events and is in the process of taking on a job ambassador role with The Prince’s Trust, so he can use his STEM skills to inspire and support other young people into careers in engineering.
National Grid pledges
1. Take a leadership role in inspiring young people to contribute to society, making this aim a key part of our community investment strategy and advocating the importance and value of youth social action at every opportunity
2. Use our recruitment processes to recognise and value the skills developed through social action by including a question about social action in our application and interview processes and advocating social action in our recruitment materials, website and job adverts
3. Encourage social action in every new starters induction programme and provide specific volunteering activities for new starters to help their integration into the business and enable them to meet and get to know other colleagues
4. Include social action as part of every graduate trainee programme or apprenticeship
5.Use volunteering as a recognised route for personal development to build business and leadership capability and make a positive impact in communities encouraging colleagues to get involved and allowing them time off to contribute
6. Work in partnership with voluntary organisations that have social action at the heart of what they do. Building on our existing partnership with City Year and our new partnership with Teach First, we will encourage our employees to support youth social action by coaching and mentoring young people.
Find out more
To find out more information about the Step Up To Serve campaign, click here.