As we are an organisation that’s powered by a team of fantastic volunteers, we understand just how much of a positive impact volunteering can have. So, we sat down with two Bolton Lads and Girls Club (BLGC) volunteers to talk about what volunteering means to them. Both have now gone on to get jobs at the club!
Why did you start volunteering at BLGC?
“I wanted to experience working with young people, especially teenagers, as I know it’s a tough age for young people and in this role, you get real hands-on experience.”
What’s your average volunteering session like?
“It’s always different! My supervisor asks me which area I like best, or which I want to improve on, so it was very much based around what I find interesting and developing my skills. I’m mainly in the recreational area, setting up activities, or joining in the games in the sports hall.”
What support do you get from the club?
“Before I started, we all attended training which is great as I’d never done anything about safeguarding or how to work with young people before. Whilst volunteering, we get a lot of feedback on how we are doing, and my supervisor is always asking me which areas I want to improve. The other staff members are always asking me if things are ok as well. The staff and volunteers are like a family, and they really look out for each other.”
What’s been your most rewarding experience?
“There’s been a lot so far. When I’m on the rec area leading a game, some of the young people start out really nervous and unsure about joining in. I start by giving just a little encouragement, but that little encouragement is actually a big thing for that young person. When they join in, you can see their whole mood change. The reward you get out of it is huge.”
Why should other people get involved with the club?
“It’s a different experience from anything else. You’re really a big part of making a difference in young people’s lives. You really are having an impact that will carry on for years to come.”
What do you enjoy the most about volunteering at the club?
“The whole role is really enjoyable which is why I’m still here. My favourite part of the role is kind of a double-edged sword. Sometimes you’re faced with some quite difficult situations where a young person might be crying, and that’s really disheartening to start with, but when you turn that around, and they leave the Club a lot happier than when they first came, because of the impact you’ve had, that’s the most enjoyable part for me.”
How does volunteering fit into your life?
“I also have two part-time jobs, so it fits well between the two, and also whilst I was at University.”
What’s been your biggest challenge?
“It has probably been around the mental health of the young people in the Club. My first session, I noticed a young person with cuts on his arms that he had self-inflicted and was trying to hide. It was obviously a shock and very serious, so I straight away knew it was my responsibility to let a member of staff know, and I knew the right procedure from the training we did before starting. There’s a lot of great stuff around mental health in the Club already, but I want to be a part of developing that further and supporting the young people as best as we can.”
How has volunteering helped your future career aspirations?
“From volunteering, I actually got a job in the Club, and I’m excited to get more involved especially around the mental health side and see where my career takes me in the Club!”
Would you recommend volunteering with BLGC?
“It’s definitely an experience, and it gives you a great opportunity to build your confidence and get a sense of reward out of it. You can see the effects of your work within minutes. Once you’ve spoken to a young person, they go away happy, and you go away happy too because you’ve just changed their day around, which can have a long-term effect, helping young people achieve their full potential.”
If like Marina and Josh, you’d like to make a difference to the lives of Bolton’s young people and volunteer at BLGC, you can find more information on their website or email the volunteering team at firstname.lastname@example.org.