1,042 Foróige volunteers participated in the Foróige Volunteer Survey. According to the survey, volunteers feel that the key things that young people benefit from are as follows: time to relax and have fun, friendship, a chance to work with other young people and support from caring adults. This is reflected in what young people say they are looking for from Foróige. One young person interviewed as part of research on the value of Foróige Clubs made the following statement which we believe perfectly describes the role of a Foróige volunteer: "Help us with our ideas, Communicate with us. Ask us how we are. Ask us what to do for the year. Get to know us or something”.
This is broadly what young people want from adults in Foróige. It is really great that our volunteers believe that the most important things they do with young people are to encourage them, chat with them, get to know them and join in with them. This has been fed back via the survey.
Relationships are fundamental to Foróige and to all youth work. If the young people feel that they know you, can trust you, will not be judged by you, that you respect them and have time for them, then they are likely to thrive in the club. They will be more likely to tell you if they are having a problem and more likely to listen to you too. They can only do this if you are in regular contact with them which means being at the club/group or meeting as part of your Big Brother Big Sister match on a very regular basis. According to the survey, 70% of volunteers (and 88% of club leaders) attend three or more times a month.
The difference you make is not only about the relationship you have with young people, it is also about what you help them to do. The survey indicates that you believe young people learn most from these activities: Interclub events with other young people, fundraising activities, the formal meeting in club settings, TAB ('tea and biscuits' or Take A Break' time) or relaxation time and games of various kinds. You notice too that even though Citizenship and Leadership programmes do not take much club time, the learning from them is much greater than the time they take. On the other hand, volunteers suggest that while young people spend a lot of time playing soccer, they learn little from it. The challenge for all of us is to support young people to have a variety of activity in their group or club, based on their interests and needs, so they can all enjoy, learn and explore.