By: V, the National Young Volunteers Service
Available on: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
What is it?
An app connecting charities and organisations with young people looking for volunteering placements. What better app could we have chosen this close to the season of goodwill!
Who is it by?
The National Young Volunteers Service is an independent charity dedicated to helping young people volunteer "in ways that matter to them". Its mission is to make volunteering opportunities diverse, compelling and easy to get involved with so that volunteering becomes, "a natural lifestyle choice for 16-25 year olds in England".
What does it promise?
The app essentially takes what's on Vinspired.com (over 6,000 volunteering opportunities at over 550 voluntary organisations) onto a mobile platform.
How does it work?
Launch the app and type in your postcode or allow the app to search for your current location. Results for nearby volunteering opportunities are displayed on a Google map via pins placed on office locations. Click on a pin and you are given further information about the organisation and the volunteering vacancies it has on offer.
Is it easy to use?
Yup, it's incredibly straightforward, with one exception. If you download the app without visiting the website, you'll suddenly find that you can't log-in to Vinspired to book your placement because you do not have an account. Frustratingly, there is no click-through option to do this via the app, so you're best off visiting the site first and registering before using the app.
Once I'd done this (having to fib about my age in order to see how the process worked), I searched for placements near Brighton, where I live. It threw up a charity in Hassocks, CCHF All About Kids, which organises residential trips to the countryside for disadvantaged children . The charity was looking for a residential activity volunteer. The volunteer would be living on-site, with meals and accommodation provided, working with children aged 7-12, with full training and support offered.
I clicked to register my interest and received an email from the V team with a message from CCHF asking me to apply via its website. I also received an email from CCHF almost immediately, asking me to apply.
So access to organisations is quick and geo-targeted, but more traditional forms of application are still required.
Is it fun?
It's certainly interesting to discover the sheer range and breadth of organisations that require young people to help them out, from small charities to cricket clubs. If younger people really do want something interesting to do in between studies or at evenings and/or weekends, it must be great fun to be able to find something quickly and easily.
Not only will it fill time, but volunteering for an organisation in need will no doubt look great on a young person's CV too.
Is it pretty?
It's certainly uncluttered. Maps are integrated well and Vinspired's modern logo mixed with a vibrant, purple-dominant colour scheme makes for an appealing app.
Should you download it?
The app essentially mimics an existing web service but by making it mobile Vinspired has made the process of volunteering much simpler – and as a result has tailored the service more directly to the young people it seeks to attract.
Some results lack specifics (a few of my results failed to offer a start date for placements, for example) but this is more of a quibble than anything that should prevent you from downloading the app.
If you're a young person, you'll be helping people out at an organisation close to home, while also getting something worthwhile to put on your CV. Parents might even want to download it too, to find something (anything!) that might get their offspring off the sofa and doing something worthwhile.