Dionne with HRH Prince Charles, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and young volunteers.

Dionne (holding the ‘up’ sign) at the campaign launch with Nick Clegg, David Cameron, HRH Prince Charles, Ed Miliband and young volunteers.

Dionne Burns saved a man’s life as a Red Cross first aid volunteer when she was 17 years old. Here she explains why volunteering still gives her such a buzz – and why she is encouraging other young people to take part in a brand new campaign.

Being a Red Cross first aider is always interesting – you never know what you are going to be dealing with. When I joined as a young 16-year-old girl, I never expected that in a few years’ time I’d be chatting with Prince Charles in Buckingham Palace!

‘Step Up To Serve’
I was invited to the palace to launch a new campaign called Step Up To Serve. The campaign aims to get over 50% of 10- to 20-year-olds in the UK involved in social action by 2020. But what exactly is social action?

Well, it could be anything from formal volunteering with an organisation like the British Red Cross, to campaigning on a local issue or raising funds for a worthy cause. It could also mean learning skills that would help your local community – such as first aid or how to respond in a crisis.

Over the next few years many organisations will be making a pledge to support young people to step up to serve. The Red Cross has already pledged to:

• offer crisis education in communities at the greatest risk of emergencies, stigmatising behaviour and conflict
• promote the benefits of volunteering and offer new volunteering opportunities to young people
• celebrate and recognise the amazing things that young people do through their annual Humanitarian Citizen Award.

Teen lifesaver
I am proud to say I was part of launching this fantastic scheme, which will help so many people. I’ve seen first-hand what volunteering do – as a young volunteer I helped save a man’s life when I was 17 years old.

After that moment I knew for sure I would always work in healthcare and will soon qualify as a nurse. By joining the Red Cross I not only saved someone else’s life, I helped change my life, too – and it’s the best feeling in the world!

Get involved
I’d recommend that any young person get involved in the campaign and take social action. As well as developing new skills, meeting interesting people and having amazing experiences, it can influence the choices you make for the future.

For more information on the campaign, visit the Step Up To Serve website.