In their September 2016 report, The Volunteer Network conducted a two-step consultation with the young people across Somerset with whom they are currently in contact, or supporting. The first step – a questionnaire was circulated to all of the young people, which was followed by a second-stage series of consultations and meetings designed to expand on the collected questionnaire data. These studies were also conducted in addition to five focus groups.
Demographic profiles were generated from the respondents’ data as well as important information about which elements of the #Focus5 programme would be most welcomed (a fairly even spread across all five elements). Transport was raised as a major barrier to engagement, alongside cost and time constraints. With regards to marketing for the programme, a direct recommendation from a peer or trusted key worker were highlighted as the most effective, followed by social media –although not in the form of an unsolicited message from a company or a general advertisement. A significant number reported that they would not even open emails or answer phone calls from unknown sources, but that Facebook messenger and Snapchat were the best ways to maintain communication with mentors.
Using this valuable information, we now have a better understanding of the vital role that word-of-mouth reviews and endorsements from trusted peers has when marketing the projects, particularly when some participants may not have access to social media. We have been able to use this research to tailor our marketing approach and build in strategies to reach young people in an effective and efficient way, not only to inform them about the projects, but also to showcase their achievements and build engagement.