I first got involved with BYHP while I was between jobs; I wanted to put my availability at the time to good use, and BYHP struck me as a good cause. In truth, I wasn't sure quite what to expect, or how I could be useful before joining. But the team here was incredibly welcoming, and I quickly discovered I had a lot more to offer than I thought. More than that I was able to see first hand the impact that BYHP was having on people's lives and knew that this was something important.
Initially, my role at BYHP involved supporting the admin staff with various day to day tasks. A tonne goes on behind the scenes in any organisation; there's always something fun happening and being able to support the processes that enable BYHP to achieve the things it does is very fulfilling. In time I also transitioned into supporting the Unlocking Potential program and Job Club; this involved working directly with the young people. It was here that I was most surprised with myself.
I had no formal training or prior experience in working with young people, but I found myself in the role of a teaching assistant of sorts for Unlocking Potential. I supported the logistics of the program and also assisted with the delivery of the course content. In the Job Club, I drew upon my experiences of job seeking to support the young people with finding work. I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was very able to engage with the young people and had something to offer them. It was incredibly rewarding to watch them grow and achieve their goals.
I am now working at the Warriner School as a result of my experiences at BYHP, which has changed my availability. Currently, I assist with BYHP's peer support group on Wednesday evenings. We create a nurturing environment for the young people to come and share their feelings, get advice, enjoy fellow volunteer Natalie's fantastic cooking, and socialise with each other. I also make myself available for fundraising events and still support the admin staff whenever I can. My role at BYHP has changed a lot over time, and that has allowed me to see that no matter your availability or skills you can always play a role in organisations like BYHP that rely on volunteers.
Volunteering with a charity is a fantastic experience that comes with a mutual benefit. No matter who you are, or what you can do, you do have something to offer. Volunteering will open the way to new skills and new experiences, and is incredibly rewarding; I never expected to be doing the things I am now, and hope that in sharing my experience I can encourage you to volunteer yourself.