Work experience for under 16

I’ve had a request from the care organisation for a 15-year-old in their care to have work experience with us as he’s a keen mechanical repairer.
I recently attended a repair café conference organised by Farnham repair café and this was discussed, but I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention!
We don’t have DBS checks from volunteers at Repair Cafe Hayling

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Hi Judy,
You state that you’ve been asked to provide work experience for this person but you don’t state what the purpose of your message is…

Are you asking for advice, encouragement, discouragement, …?

If it’s advice, I’d personally counsel caution for multiple reasons:

  1. the safeguarding issues you allude to,
  2. the amount of work required, e.g. generating a curriculum, reporting, etc.
  3. the liability issues: does your insurance cover this?

A final thought: they’re looking for “Work Experience” which may have a very specific interpretation which you may not be able to fulfill, for example, they may not really understand what a Repair Café is & they may be assuming that you’re a commercial operation.

Sorry to be a pessimist but I wouldn’t like to see a Repair Café run into problems through trying to be too helpful.

A first step would be to talk to them, explain who you are, then ask them what exactly they want, then ask them what they are willing to provide, e.g. would they be willing to provide a carer to accompany him, which would avoid the safeguarding issue?

Thanks Dave - I suspect they don’t want work experience but just for him to be a volunteer. Thanks for all those points to consider. I know some Repair cafes regularly have under 16s for example for Duke of Edinburgh

Historically we’ve had under 18s volunteer but only if their responsible adult is with them (and they’ve visited a few times so we’ve vetted them).

But the important thing is to link it to your safeguarding policy. We’re currently investigating how we want to do this going forward and are putting some processes in place to allow it, such as DBS checks and procedures. We’ve also confirmed with our insurers that they’re covered under our policy. So quite a few things to consider. We’re doing that as we want to encourage youngsters to learn more about volunteering, but it’s not for everyone.