Hi I’m Kelly, and I am a Lead Volunteer on Skills and Volunteering Cymru’s ‘Young Carers Club’ project. The role of a Lead Volunteer is to lead their project, support volunteers and beneficiaries, and liaise with staff and partners on the project. My specific role was to plan and prepare activities for our beneficiaries, for example, if our activity was baking, my role would be to contact families prior to the activity to see which beneficiaries would be attending the session and I would then arrange for the ingredients to be delivered to their home or chosen address. On the day of the session, I would set up a zoom meeting, ensure the details of the meeting were forward to families and volunteers and then attend and run the session itself.
As part of my training for this project I have attended various courses, such as safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, and managing challenging behaviour. I believe both courses are important when training to volunteer on this particular project and both prepared me for anything I may face as a lead volunteer. I also had informal training when my project supervisor with regard to policies and procedures of the charity, GDPR and confidentiality issues.
In 2018 I had to complete a placement as part of my university course. I found this project and knew instantly that it was the project for me. Prior to university I had completed a childcare and education qualification and growing up, I had been a young carer myself. Initially I had to complete 30 hours of placement hours and applied to be a general volunteer but after a meeting with a project supervisor I was offered the role as the lead volunteer for the project and I haven’t looked back since. Even though my placement ended that year, I have stayed on the project ever since because of how worthwhile it is. This year I decided to keep volunteering on the project, as I saw the need that was out there as a result of the pandemic, and decided I would do what I could to help volunteering has given me confidence to talk to new people, and massively helped me to get onto my master’s degree and my summer internship in America. Volunteering has challenged me when working in a team, working on my own initiative and managing difficult situations. Being a lead volunteer also led to the opportunity of being on the board of trustees for the charity learning about the daily running’s of the charity, funding, benefits and challenges.
I also believe my volunteering role has had a positive impact on others, for the previous 2 years I have been nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award, for my dedication to my work. I often receive feedback from the families regarding the positive impact this project has on their lives and how they cannot imagine living without it. The young carers often tell me how much they love the project and how nice it is to have friends that have a similar home life to them. I believe my volunteering has been especially helpful to the young carers during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the sessions I have helped to run have really helped them to combat boredom and isolation.
If I had to describe volunteering in one sentence I would say that volunteering is work not paid with money, but paid with smiles, laughter and change, the impact you can make on someone’s life is far greater than any financial gain.
Volunteering is work not paid with money, but paid with smiles, laughter and change