Engaging young people with the voluntary sector

Engaging young people with the voluntary sector

Having graduated from Cambridge, Bilal Harry Khan (OE 2003 – 2010) is now back in Barnet forging a career focused on engaging young people with voluntary service in their own communities.

Bilal left QE to take up a place at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to read Theology and Religious Studies. He then joined CommUNITY Barnet, previously Barnet’s Voluntary Service Council, where he is a Youth Engagement Officer.

At the age of just 22, he already has a track-record of initiating and promoting volunteering opportunities for young people in the Barnet area and is hoping his role will enable him to reconnect with the School and find volunteering opportunities for current pupils.

Notably, Bilal helped launch the recent Give & Get Given project, which successfully provided one-off opportunities for young people to undertake tasks such as gardening, painting and befriending in the communities in which they lived. ““The whole aim of the project was to show young people the benefits of volunteering and that it can be fun. It was great to see them recognising the value of their contribution to voluntary-sector organisations,” he says.

“We offered all the participants guidance through a briefing session into what voluntary work entailed and also gave them speakers or headphones and a special t-shirt as a reward for their efforts,” said Bilal.

Bilal oversees Youth Shield, Barnet’s safeguarding panel for those aged 14-25, which has won awards for its consultation work within the borough. The panel reports monthly to Barnet’s Safeguarding Children’s Board.

“We are currently working on the delivery of a peer-to-peer workshop on healthy relationships, which will cover topics such as recognising the signs of domestic abuse and violence in teenage relationships. We’re always looking for new members and the Youth Shield offers an exciting opportunity for young people to make a difference,” says Bilal.

Bilal’s responsibilities include working on the council’s Participation & Children’s Voice programme, which involves substantial consultation with primary, secondary and college-age children and young people. The aim is to develop child-centred services in the community; Bilal ensures that young people’s views are fed back to Barnet’s Youth Participation Strategy Group.

Following the award of funding from Public Health England (an executive agency of the Department of Health), Bilal is also now working to deliver a project looking at self-harm, including the role of social media in it.