Posts Tagged ‘life-changing volunteering’
Ahead of the Experience of a Lifetime programme (starting next week) one of our Summer of a Lifetime participants, Connor, explains what made the experience so special and why he’d recommend getting involved…
From the moment of inductions, I could tell I was going to have an amazing time – and my expectations certainly didn’t let me down. The first week of getting to know my team (Northwich) was amazing. I made some new friends and learnt about what the rest of the summer had in store for us.
After the first week, we spent a week in Northumberland where we bonded with other groups (Newcastle, Chester & Ellesmere Port), this again gave us the chance to meet new people, and was how I met my best friend Ian! He was from Chester group and it turned we were going to be spending half of the scheme together.
In Northumberland we took part in team experience activities like abseiling and rock climbing. This increased the bond between everyone, because we relied on each other in the activities.
Bringing out our real selves
The week brought out everyone’s real self, and we soon felt comfortable around each other and some life-long friendships were made.
The second week was our home residential in Chester. The groups (Chester, Ellesmere & Northwich) took part in activities like mountain biking, lazer quest and adventure trails. Whilst at Chester, I know that some amazing friendships were made, and I made a good few amazing friends myself (Ian, dean, Tasha, Ellie, Leonie, Hannah, Amber, Liam, Steph, Kyle & everyone else).
Looking forward to the future
The next two weeks, we spent raising money and putting in towards a good cause for charity. The Northwich team had a fun day, where we raised £177 as well as the money that O2 gave us.
We spent the money on toothbrushes, hygiene kits, shoes, socks and canned food. We put them into packages and gave to the homeless.
This was by far the best summer I have ever had and I look forward to spending many more with the new friends that Summer Of A Lifetime has introduced to me!
Fancy having fun, developing new skills and making a difference this autumn? Well here’s your chance: our Experience of a Lifetime programme is now recruiting.
The incredible spectacle and heroics of the Olympics and Paralympics blew the nation away this summer. And, at the same time, our very own super-humans were (quite literally) having the Summer of a Lifetime.
Below, our Summer of a Lifetime graduates explain why the programme was so worthwhile …
‘I would just like to say thank you to all the staff for putting together Summer of a Lifetime, it’s been a great experience. It has also been a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. I’ve enjoyed the whole experience. If I had the chance to do it again, I’d definitely do it, I loved every minute and I’m sad that it has ended. Thank you.’
NCS Participant, South Tyneside
‘Being involved in the project has been a great opportunity. I’ve really gained a lot from the experiences we’ve had from the Summer of a Lifetime. I’ve learnt so much about myself and how to achieve great things as part of a group. It’s a great opportunity not to be missed.’
NCS Participant, Hertfordshire
‘I am so glad you came to my school earlier in the year and continued to keep me informed over the months about Summer of a Lifetime as I don’t know what I would have done with my time over the summer. I have taken part in so many activities that I would never have been given the opportunity to do.’
NCS Participant, Newcastle upon Tyne
‘If I had not of been coming to Summer of a Lifetime, I would have been roaming around with my friends and partying. The best experience for me has been making new friends and increasing my confidence. I enjoyed going to the Nursery to volunteer as I saw the garden transform which will change the lives for the children involved.’
NCS Participant, East Durham
‘Thank you so much for the amazing experience and opportunities Summer of a Lifetime had to offer us.’
NCS Participant, South Tyneside
‘Summer of a Lifetime has given me more confidence and now I feel that I can do anything- I feel like I could rule the world!’
NCS Participant, Bradford
‘Thank you for the best few weeks of my life! Had a really good time and experienced things that I might never do again.’
NCS Participant, South Tyneside
Like the sound of Summer of a Lifetime? Wish you’d had the chance to be involved? Well, if your school holidays need an injection of va-va-voom, good news: we’re doing it all over again. And you don’t have to wait until next summer …
This autumn half-term we’re running Experience of a Lifetime, following the exact same format as the summer’s programme.
So, come and check out where we’ll be, register your interest and sign up for Experience of a Lifetime now- and don’t forget to stay in the loop with hot off the press Experience of a Lifetime news by visiting our facebook page.
Wrapped up in our everyday routines, it often takes a chance event or an out-of-the-blue brush with tragedy to cause us to put the really important things in life into perspective…
It was chucking it down on Saturday 14 August 2010, but I wasn’t going to let the weather ruin my day. I drove my brother to the Midlands to try out a brand new experience: something I had been wanting to do for ages, after watching the Royal Caribbean TV Ads.
Bedford, I had discovered, has its own little piece of Caribbean paradise in the form of a Flow Rider surf simulator. Steve and I learned how to bodyboard, and every time we mastered a new skill the instructor encouraged us to show off in an ever more extrovert manner until we wiped out and joined the back of the queue to rejoin the fun. It was a brilliant experience, and we were having the perfect day.
On the return journey, just a mile from home, my car ran into a flash flood on a dual carriageway, slewed round, rolled twice and ended up in a blackberry bush. My SatNav flew out the window never to be seen again, and I was dead lucky not to lose my iPad and (the irony of it) my Blackberry.
Steve and I were incredibly lucky to walk away from the accident. The car was destroyed, but it protected us amazingly well. The accident may have cost me an arm and a leg (no, not literally) … but that pales into insignificance when I think of what could have happened. What if … what if … what if?
We don’t often think about death unless someone close to us dies or we have a close shave ourselves. You’re forced to acknowledge that life can be unpredictable, change quickly, or even be snatched away in an instant.
I am full of admiration for Michelle Cadman, one of our Junction49ers, who has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of knife crime after a close friend was murdered after a night out. Through her KnivesCostLives programme, Michelle carries out talks in local schools to raise awareness of knife crime and show them that there is an alternative to getting involved in gangs.
Has an unexpected life-event ever catalysed you to make the decision to put something extra back into your community? I’d love to hear about your experiences below. For my part I am determined, more than ever, to grasp life’s challenges and to appreciate my friends and family.
Are you up for putting aside a little spare time to improve the lives of others? If so, you may find a challenge worthy of you over on vInspired.
Here, Joanna shares her powerful and inspirational story….
Have you ever felt so alone that it hurt? Thought about the future and wanted to harm yourself? Felt the pain that you are causing to other people was too much and that they would be better without you? I have.
Four years ago, after a traumatic experience, I was sitting in an isolation room at school crying, feeling worthless and unable to see a future with me in it.
I was being bullied, wasn’t doing well in lessons, self- harming and completely and utterly lost. Every time I thought I had hit rock bottom – I would fall further.
How volunteering changed everything
There have been three pivotal events since then that have helped me turn my life around.
Firstly, through volunteering as a football coach I was given the opportunity to represent Bedfordshire at the FA National leadership and volunteer camp. It was my first time away from home. The 99 other young people that I met that week accepted me for who I was as they didn’t know about my past.
I realised that I maybe wouldn’t be able to rebuild my school life – but there was a whole other life to be had. I could change things and I found that I could be liked for who I was outside of school.
I started doing a lot of volunteering. Next thing I knew I had applied and was accepted to be part of the UK Youth Healthy Young Adults Transitions Project (HYAT). It meant that I would have to travel up to Chester for a weekend residential. I had not been on a train on my own before. I was going to a place I had never been before to meet people I have never seen before; and not only that I had to use the tube!
But I managed it. This project carried on for another two and a half years. It allowed me to grow in confidence. I found acceptance from people who knew and understood my situation.
Most recently I was lucky enough to be able to go on the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. What a hard week! But something positive changed in me that week and I haven’t looked back since.
Gaining something money can’t buy
I could write pages and pages about what volunteering has done for me.
People ask me why I volunteer when I don’t get paid, but for me I gained something that cannot ever be valued by money.
It wasn’t an overnight thing. Some days I really did feel like I didn’t want to get out of bed, and there were times when I question why I do it. But I stick with it.
I will never be able to put into words just how thankful I am to the people who helped me along the way.
I just hope that the fact that I won the 2012 National vInspired Award for Bringing Communities Together and have done over 5000 hours of voluntary work can go some way to saying, in my own way: “thank you”.
Discover the power of volunteering for yourself on vinspired.com.
Visit YoungMinds for further information and support on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Last year, a group of young people from across the country came together to have one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of their lives.
Summer of a Lifetime is an amazing programme that gives year 11 and 12 students who’ve finished their school studies the chance to enjoy a summer jam-packed full of fun activities – trying new things, setting up community projects, learning new skills and making friends for life.
The young people who took part in last year’s Summer of a Lifetime recently paid a visit to our office in London and I decided to take the opportunity to ask them: why was Summer of a Lifetime such a life-changing experience?
Here are the inspiring thoughts of one of the participants, Linda….
This might sound dramatic or whatever but before last summer, if someone had asked me: “can volunteering change lives?” I would probably have said “no”, but this programme has allowed me to witness first-hand the difference that volunteering can make to others – and yourself.
I remember the first day that I met the people in my NCS team. We were all so different, coming from various backgrounds and I couldn’t really picture what type of team we’d be. But by the end of the second week we already felt like a kind of family (sorry for the cheesiness)!
The Summer of a Lifetime experience has changed all of our lives in a positive way – especially for one guy from my group whose life was completely transformed by the programme.
He told me about how he was at the edge of a gang, mixing with people he shouldn’t have. He felt he had nowhere to turn, so when a youth worker approached him about the Summer of a Lifetime programme he knew that this might be a chance to turn things around. He was pretty sceptical and a bit scared, but decided to join anyway – a decision that proved to be one of the best he ever made.
Now, when I think of all the people that I met during the Summer of a Lifetime experience, I can’t help but smile. And now whenever anyone asks, I say: “Yes, volunteering can definitely change lives – and it can change yours too.
Have a summer to remember this year. If you’re currently in year 11, sign up to Summer of a Lifetime now!