STUDENTS at a Hampshire sixth-form college are being encouraged to volunteer at charities with the help of a new service.

Peter Symonds College in Winchester have teamed up with volunteering charity Community First, to offer a weekly brokering service for students - placing them with charity and community groups in the local area with volunteer positions that match students abilities, skills and interests.

The service has been introduced as part of a drive by Community First to get more young people people volunteering, and also to help students develop 'soft skills' such as communication and teamwork, which both employers and universities are increasingly interested in seeing from from applicants.

An award scheme is also set to be launched, with students able to receive either a silver or gold award depending on the amount of hours they have volunteered.

Community First offer support and advise to various community and charity groups across East Hampshire and Winchester, as well as help to recruit volunteers for various schemes including dial a ride and community transport services, shopmobility, and health and wellbeing services in Winchester.

Tim Houghton, chief executive, of Community First said: "Our partnership with Peter Symonds college is a fantastic way of encouraging and helping younger people to volunteer. Students have a real desire and commitment to help support their local community and this new innovative service will help them find and access the right opportunities quickly and easily. As a society we're increasingly reliant on more volunteers to help older and vulnerable people or to work with good causes; encouraging people to volunteer at a young age means they're more likely to continue this into adulthood. It's a great opportunity for youngsters to enhance their interpersonal and social skills and can give them a real head start when it comes to applying for jobs when they leave college."