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Isobel shines light on netball's young volunteers.

The importance of volunteers in sport can never be under-estimated. Without volunteers, sport simply wouldn’t function.

To celebrate International Youth Day, England Netball are shining a light on some of the wonderful young volunteers who have been making a huge difference in netball.

Izzy Cottrell (England Netball’s National Youth Sport Trust Young Representative and member of a Cross Sport Youth Leadership Team) shares a bit more on England Netball’s Pilot Youth Panel/informal working group that has been evolving this year.

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The journey so far…

We hear you’ve been very busy throughout the last year, tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing?

Thank you so much for asking me! A year ago, during the first lockdown, I was given an amazing opportunity to be interviewed for the Coaching Netfix Series with Head of Volunteering Imo Greatbatch.

I remember mentioning that I would love to be involved in a project with EN, helping to increase the youth voice within our sport, and it all went from there really!

A year on and I have been working with the wonderful Ellie, Issy and Lucy as part of an informal Youth Leadership Group; the four of us have received invaluable mentoring from Imo, Joan Mills and Ian Poynton.

We have also been lucky enough to start conversations and collaboration with Netball New Zealand, learning about how they operate their Youth Panel and discussing all things youth volunteering.

Both groups ‘zoomed in’ across the globe to say hi/Kia Ora. Georgia Trent (NNZ Youth Panel Chair) created a fun and full agenda, chaired the meeting and created this short video of their meeting.

We shared the roles we do, our journeys and reasons as to why we volunteer. We moved into breakout rooms to explore, all things netball, through our youth lens; the buds (new things that are exciting) roses (things going really well) and thorns (things that are challenging).

The group agreed this is a really valuable connection and will be continuing to collaborate.

Why was the Youth Leadership Working Group established?

We decided to establish our informal working group after speaking with Imo about the importance of youth volunteering and the youth voice. The publication of the EN Volunteering Strategy shows why and how important this is.

Within the strategy there is an emphasis on youth volunteering and engagement, therefore, this coupled with our passion for all things volunteering led to the creation of our group. We all bring different levels of experience and valuable insight with us.

Ellie is the England Netball National Young Volunteer of the Year for 2020 and Chair of the Yorkshire and Humberside Youth Advisory Group; Issy is the Southwest Young Regional Rep; Lucy is the London and South East Youth Regional Rep, and I am the England Netball National Young Volunteer of the Year for 2019 and The National Youth Sport Trust Young Representative on behalf of England Netball.

We have a vast knowledge base between us and most importantly we are super passionate about youth involvement in netball and helping to raise the profile of the youth voice.

What has been the focus within your group and what changes, if any, have been implemented from the work that you have done?

As a group we have created a mission statement which encapsulates exactly who we are and what we are aiming to do:

“A collective group of committed and experienced young people motivated to the growth of youth volunteering across netball”.

Over the last nine months, we have been meeting regularly to discuss ideas and plans and have been particularly influential in the evaluation of the Pass On Your Passion (POYP), England Netball’s Young Volunteer, Rewards and Recognition scheme.

POYP aims to recognise anyone aged between 12-25 who volunteers in netball, in any capacity.

During the evaluation of POYP, we ran a pilot call with over 25 young volunteers from around the country gathering their thoughts and feelings about the scheme, shaping where we went from there and how we were going to ensure that POYP was valuable for our youth members.

We have looked at developing specific social media content for the youth audience, alongside the development of a formalised Youth Advisory Panel come 2022.

What are your groups hopes for the future?

One of the fundamental hopes that we all share is to get as many young people involved in netball as possible whether that be through playing, coaching, officiating or helping out here and there.

Now more than ever it is so important that our young people feel valued and are able to recognise their worth and influence within society.

It’s been a tough 18-months for everybody and involvement in sport and physical activity will be paramount in people’s wellbeing and recovery coming out of the pandemic.

As a group we hope to continue supporting EN in their efforts to increase the focus and support needed to develop the Youth Volunteer landscape, whilst growing the number of young volunteers, ensuring that they have access to a world class experience with modernised and engaging opportunities and learning offers.

For anyone thinking about volunteering or getting involved what advice would you give them?

First and foremost, go for it, you will not regret it! Volunteering is such a special thing to be part of, not only do you get to be influential in other people’s sporting journeys and part of the volunteering community, you also learn invaluable skills such as leadership and teamwork. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my volunteering!

Join the movement of young volunteers enriching lives through netball

If you are interested in getting involved, visit the EN Young Volunteers webpage.

You can express interest in registering for Pass on Your Passion which will re-open for registrations from 1st September 2021.

Email volunteering@englandnetball.co.uk if you would like to explore being more involved in your Region or this national youth leadership working group.

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