Volunteer Stories

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Donna's Volunteer Story

After having my house broken into and cars stolen, I began to wonder why young people were roaming the streets in the middle of the night and why were they not at home tucked up in bed and why did they think it okay to steal?  After having the predictable reaction of anger, I wondered what I might be able to do to help, maybe even prevent something like this happening to somebody else.

No sooner had I thought this, I saw an advertisement for befriending volunteers to work with young people who are in the process of leaving the care system. The majority of young people come into care because of difficulties at home or family breakdown, not because they have done anything wrong and they just need some extra support.

I applied, met the co-ordinator and was soon attending the training course. The training was informal and fun but thorough and very enlightening and there were likeminded people who all had their own reasons for wanting to do voluntary work.

A short time later I was told about my young person and prepared to go to a match meeting. Thankfully, young people and volunteers are matched according to the young people’s needs. Interests, personalities and location are all carefully considered so I was feeling optimistic and looking forward to the experience, even though I was a little nervous.

The focus of the service is very much social. If a young person has little support, low self-esteem and limited self-confidence it is a great idea that a volunteer can come along, as a non-professional and spend some quality time with them.

My first impressions of this young person were of someone who was desperately trying to appear grown up and confident but she confided later that she was much more nervous than I was. We now meet up weekly, we have done a range of activities from eating Japanese food with chopsticks to learning to fly fish for trout – we have even caught some too! 

Some of our future plans involve a Black Cab Tour of Belfast and a manicure.

I have only been volunteering since May last year and even in this short time I have seen this young person grow in confidence. I find the experience of befriending rewarding and fun – giving me an opportunity to try new things and share good times with somebody else, somebody who may never have had the chance to try them.

I would recommend this to everyone; we all have something special to offer and you could make positive changes to a young person’s life.

“Experience is often what you get when you were expecting something else.”

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