Having had personal experiences of the impact volunteers make during a six month spell in and out of hospital, I was inspired to give back to my local community. Many young people may find it difficult to find volunteering positions that are flexible around their studies and other commitments or available for their age group. However, with research and patience, voluntary work can have a lasting impact on your life and outlook.
My first real volunteering position was through an amazing charity called the Lions Club, which has groups globally and, whether in Birmingham or Brazil, there is always a Lion willing to help. On a local scale, I was thrilled to help run the Lions’ “Talking Newspaper”, which is a recording of volunteers reading key stories from local newspapers so that the visually impaired can feel more connected to their town events. Although I am the youngest volunteer in my unit by a couple of decades, the knowledge and confidence that I have gained through working alongside other passionate individuals was a brilliant experience and I have learnt immensely from their wisdom and generosity. Whether through being an elf on the Christmas markets or realising that we were giving away rare Beanie Boos on a raffle, the Lions have offered me an insight into how a collective goal can result in real change on such a dramatic level, not only assisting personal cases within a local community but also working towards improving eyesight in children globally and diabetes care.
Volunteering through an amazing tutoring organisation called MentorJr has allowed me to build a long term connection with younger pupils and watch them flourish and begin to revel in learning. Initially established by sixth form students from Godolphin and Latymer School in London, MentorJr aims to bridge the educational gap and offer free weekly tutoring sessions online with older students. The young people who volunteer their time each week are truly remarkable and their expertise and joy at helping their younger peers is palpable. My personal experience of tutoring twin seven year old boys has not only taught me very important patience skills but also how to adapt complex information for different audiences and ensure that they understand the lessons. Aside from the satisfaction of watching them begin to understand topics they previously struggled with, the bond I created with the boys is amazing and I began to look forward to seeing their huge smiles every week and hearing about how well they were doing in school. Even if it was only for one hour a week, I felt that I was part of a larger movement and taking small steps to help younger pupils achieve their educational dreams without the need for payment or travelling.
Another amazing charity that young people are encouraged to get involved with is “Kissing it Better”, an organisation aiming to reduce loneliness within the older population through weekly Zoom calls with young people from all over the world. “Kissing it Better” offers the amazing chance to learn about different generations’ experiences through adversities such as war, pandemics and things as simple as their schooling experience. Learning about the experiences of older people allows young people to become more aware of different generations’ needs and promotes sensitivity. Not only does it help older people feel connected to today’s youth and learn about things such as social media and the modern school system’s pressure of GCSEs, it also offers young people a fascinating insight into history and encourages them to use their listening skills with older people in their own lives.
Brownies, Rainbows and Girlguiding also allow anyone over the age of fourteen to get involved with helping their younger members through assisting sessions. My personal experience of volunteering with my local Brownies allowed me to take part in fun activities such as sparklers, making smores, and arts and crafts. The relationships I created with the girls made me excited to return every week and help to provide joyful memories and lots of laughs that they will remember into the future.
Volunteering as a young person requires regular commitment and passion for helping. The beauty of volunteering is that it does not require any particular skills, just willingness to help and dedication. I would encourage any young person to get involved with some of the amazing opportunities available to them, both locally and nationally as many have become more accessible due to becoming online in the pandemic.