Posts Tagged ‘Teamv’
There are volunteers out there who travel the world to help others. They may not be paid to give that time, but they make a huge difference.
One anonymous vInspired volunteer knows just how important that work is. A team of international volunteers brought him from a refugee camp in war-torn Darfur to London. It was the chance to start again, to live in a peaceful community and build a future.
Team v’s Routes to Roots campaign shares stories of survival brought about through volunteering. From fleeing warfare to making lifelong friends, volunteering has been central to building lifelines.
Here’s our volunteer’s story.
Volunteers risked their lives to help me
I arrived in London as a refugee from Darfur in 2007 aged 16 and was placed into care. As a child living in a Darfur refugee camp, I was offered life-changing support from a group of British students working with the Red Cross.
I was amazed that the students had travelled hundreds of miles and put their lives at risk to help me and my family. They inspired my passion for volunteering.
After speaking to my social worker about what it meant to receive support from those volunteers in Darfur, she introduced me to Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA), where I started my volunteering career.
How I helped my new community
Since joining CVA, I have:
- Run a pop-in centre for elderly Croydon residents
- Served as a member of the Croydon Youth Action Team to recruit other young volunteers
- Led a Green Hope environmental campaign at my college. I applied for funding to run an awareness raising campaign with students, which changed the attitudes of many of the other students, and lead to the implementation of a college environmental policy.
What I got from volunteering
Volunteering gave me the confidence and motivation to complete my school exams and gain a place at university.
Five years ago I could barely speak English. Volunteering completely changed my life. It helped me develop language skills and confidence, and to settle into a new and intimidating culture.
Most importantly, I’ve learnt to understand other people. When I first came to London the cultural barrier was huge. But volunteering offered me the chance to be part of a community.
I still work with CVA and at my university volunteering society (where I also study international relations) as well as holding down a part time job. For me, it’s not about building skills or my CV. It’s just about helping others.
When I tell people I volunteer they are sometimes surprised. They don’t know why I would spend my time doing it. But I tell them that I wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t helped me. So I want to help other people too. You don’t know how great it is to help someone else unless you try it.
Help your community retrace their roots. Volunteer on the Routes to Roots campaign.
Facing a room full of people you don’t know can be nerve-wracking. What’s the best way to approach someone? What do you say when you get there? What should you do with your face?!
Put down the smelling salts and stop that nervous twitch. There’s no need to be worried about meeting new people when team v are holding your hand.
“Smile (like you mean it)”
Lucy Dean, Team v Midlands
‘I really like chatting with someone who has a face like a slapped arse’ said no one ever.
Swallow your nerves and approach new people with a smile. You’ll fall into conversations easily if you look like a happy person.
“Ask them about their hometown”
Danielle Falcus, Team v North London
Follow up your first “Hello, my name is…” by asking where they’ve travelled in from. Everyone knows the answer to this question. You can’t go wrong.
Danielle says, “I find it starts conversations with something I know how to talk about confidently. For example, everyone will complain about living in London or about train commutes, then once the rapport is built you can ask a question like ‘What do you do there’?”
“Find out what makes them tick”
Alex Quang, Team v South London
When you’ve found out what your new acquaintance loves, take the opportunity to learn more about it. Perhaps it’s an interest you share – in which case, rave about it with them. New friend = made.
“Find out what motivates them to do what they do. Ask all about it. Your interest leaves you with a better understanding of them. That helps build a stronger relationship.”
“Let them get a word in edgeways”
John Morris, Team v Midlands
We all love to talk about ourselves. It’s great for filling awkward silences. But do make sure you’re not hogging the spotlight the whole time. If ten minutes goes by and you haven’t learnt their name, where they’re from or what they do, it’s time to share the stage.
“Make sure you actually talk to the person rather than over-selling yourself or commanding the conversation. Having a general chat (though by all means talk about the reason you’ve come together to network) with someone will often help build that relationship quicker. A one way conversation can feel like a sales pitch.”
“Keep in touch”
Glenn Gridley, Team v North London
What’s the point in meeting all these interesting people if you forget about them as soon as you leave your event?
“Once you’ve got something you want out of someone, keep them up to date with how you’re doing and stay in touch. Then they know you value them.”
Unless you’ve made arrangements to meet up or are really firm friends, asking for phone numbers might be a bit forward. If that doesn’t feel appropriate, see if they’re heading to any other events that you may go to. You could even ask for their Twitter handle or blog address if they have one. If all else fails, ask how you can keep up to date with their work or projects, and see what they offer you.
Ready to get stuck in? Volunteer with your local Team v leader.
The Good Childhood Report 2012 published earlier this month by The Children’s Society, gives us rich food for thought. Perhaps not surprisingly it found that family is the most important factor in children’s well-being, particularly its harmony and stability. Having friends and the quality of peer relationships feature highly too, though to a lesser degree than relationships within the family.
Feeling safe both at home and at school are important to children’s well-being but around 7% reported not feeling safe at school. In fact those reporting regular and recent bullying by peers are six times as likely to have low well-being as those not bullied at all. On the issue of feeling safe, girls feel safer in rural areas than in urban ones.
Changes to household income were found to affect well-being, particularly in the poorest 20% of households. I welcome the news that most children are happy with their health and place importance on doing well at school. However, one must be concerned by the link between poverty and lower educational aspirations and expectations.
A real fascination of mine is body image in adolescence, so I was particularly struck by the results pertaining to children’s feelings about their appearance. No surprises really: negative feelings about appearance increase with age and more so for girls than boys.
As an advocate of youth-led activity and active listening to the young, the most striking, fundamental issue in the report for children’s quality of life is that related to choice, freedom and autonomy. A substantial minority (23%) feel they have very little choice, with 23% feeling that their views are not listened to locally. This also worsens with age. For those of us who work with the young: take heed and do more!
The Good Childhood Report set out what children need and how they can get it and I believe that volunteering can play a significant part in many respects. Especially on issues of self-esteem and confidence, relationships with others, opportunities for free play, access to the outdoors, feeling safe, experiencing care and caring and having plenty to do in the local area. Volunteers can provide opportunities for children to experience all of the above – and volunteering itself enables young people to experience these things for themselves.
Here at vInspired, opportunities for young people to be heard occur through programmes like vcashpoint and Team v; and we also link young people to many wider opportunities in the charity sector through our website, vinspired.com.
Of course there is little that can replace the fundamental of a stable and harmonious family. But we can most certainly supplement it and fill some of the gaps to give children the best possible present and future.
Well 2012 is up and running and I’ve been reflecting on my hopes and fears for the year ahead.
2011 was supposed to be the year of UK and global action for young people. It was a year in which I got a degree – but unfortunately, like so many other young people struggling to find work, have not been able to use it.
Worrying youth unemployment figures dominated the news and were a real talking point at last month’s Youth Advisory Board meeting. So many young people are struggling as I am, to get long-term work and facing the prospect of being among the first generations not able to afford housing and have the financial freedoms of our parents’ generation.
Looking at the bleak unemployment figures, combined with the bad press received over the summer’s riots, you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2011 wasn’t a great year for young people – and 2012 doesn’t hold much promise either.
But I’d like for a moment, to focus on the positive contributions that young people have made to society in the past year and will continue to make in 2012, in spite of the challenges they face.
For instance, the work that our Teamv projects carry out across the country, shows that plenty of young people really do care about helping others, are passionate about society and are contributing something positive to their community and themselves.
One of last year’s national award winners, Kirsty Ashton, has gone on to receive an MBE in the New Year’s honours list – showing that young people who challenge themselves and work hard enough really can get the positive public recognition they deserve.
For young people, the act of volunteering is a brilliant way to do some good for others – but also in the current climate, it’s a great opportunity for self-development and building recognition to strengthen your CV. A look over the inspiring stories of this year’s regional award winners is evidence of this.
Looking back, 2011 had plenty of bad news. We are in hard times. But I sit here knowing that our spirit and determination to do good through volunteering is as strong as ever. I don’t think we should focus on the fact that 2011 was supposedly the “year of action” for young people – because every year should be seen as a year for young people to flourish and take action.
In 2012, we should continue to fight negative public perceptions and show that we care, through doing good and bringing about positive change.
David agreed to support the campaign after Team v London leader Luke Harris spotted him on a Tube train and seized the opportunity to tell the MP (and the rest of the tube carriage) all about Team v.
He met Luke and his team at the Houses of Parliament yesterday (December 8) to hear more about their campaign to tackle food poverty. Team v leaders are setting up food hubs in community centres, offices and disused shops across the country. They have teamed up with local charities to ensure the food donated gets to the families who need it most before Christmas.
Luke says: “Christmas is a time of year when we all hope to enjoy those extra treats – huge dinners, mince pies, chocolates – but around seven per cent of all families in the UK can’t afford to celebrate Christmas at all . And with around one in five families in the UK living below the poverty line , many more will face a struggle to put Christmas dinner on the table. We’ve had a great response from lots of businesses and members of the public in central London already. But I’m grateful for Mr Miliband’s support in highlighting our campaign to make Christmas a little happier for some of our neighbours.”
David said: “Luke and the rest of Team v London are doing an inspirational job of tackling the problem of food poverty. They are a wonderful example of the positive contribution that dedicated young volunteers make to their communities and I wish them the best of luck with this important campaign.”
The Finance Director is thinking on his feet
Monday. I attend a brainstorming session with colleagues and vinspired’s Youth Advisory Board – 12 young volunteers who are at the heart of our decision-making process. Today, we’re looking at ways of framing “asks” within our fundraising strategy. With a million young people out of work, and substantially reduced government funding available for youth volunteering, private sector fundraising is becoming a major focus. We are running programmes funded by OCS, DfE, Coca Cola and BP, but need to continue to diversify our sources of income.
Tuesday. My role encompasses IT as well as finance, and today we need to switch a few phone extensions around. A few small glitches emerge. The phone system isn’t quite in sync with Greenwich Mean Time (about 2½ minutes out) and a “five minute job” to fix it ends up taking rather longer. I really want everything sorted as Remembrance Day is looming and it will be disrespectful if we’re not all observing the minute’s silence the same time.
Wednesday. I am guest of our auditors, Crowe Clark Whitehill, at the CFDG’s Annual Fundraising Dinner. This year, CFDG Chief Executive Caron Bradshaw has decided to add a big sense of fun to the event, and has booked a live band and Couch Impro … an improvisation group in which I perform. We do a thirty minute set (a shortened version of our Edinburgh Fringe show) entirely based on suggestions from the audience, immediately after Nick Hurd’s speech. The audience of 600 is about the size of our entire Edinburgh run, and Nick Hurd announces he is to be followed by Britain’s Funniest Accountant (I won a competition a couple of years ago). So no pressure!
Thursday. I attend the “An Enterprising Future” conference. The speakers at the opening plenary are most engaging, and very fired up. I attend a particularly good afternoon session where we debate why some government departments seem to accept that commercial organisations may make a profit for their shareholders, but find it difficult to allow charities to make a surplus to fund their charitable activities.
Friday. I am working on revised costings for Teamv, a programme we’re running in partnership with Rank Foundation, CAF and NIACE. Several of my colleagues are off-site, inducting the new intake of Young Leaders, who will be running a series of activations during the next twelve months. Their first activation will be complemented by a terrific short film about Food Poverty. Received a call from the auditors – the Couch Impro show is the talk of the office, and they loved our naughty reference to last minute changes to the accounts.
Sitting on the train en route to the Team v interviews I saw a front page stating the level of Youth unemployment. That made me think; how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd when you’re 17 and living at a time when everyone is money conscious. There is a need for innovative opportunities that aren’t focused around money.
I’m looking at starting life with £27,000 minimum student debt with not the best prospects of gaining immediate employment. So the question of the worth of university comes up? Is it worth the money to complete a degree to go into a job that doesn’t need one? Or can the value of experience outweigh the need for qualification?
In all professions, skills like team work, communication and commitment are all key to successful employment. The chance to develop such skills can come in the form of volunteering opportunities however more opportunities are still needed. Projects that promote youth experience and development are in high demand. Projects like Teamv and the many that exist on vinspired.com. Without volunteering I would be a completely different person so why not do what I and so many others have done.
Do something for others and observe the change within yourself.
I begin with considering a quote from Alan See, Vice President of the Berry Network. “Great customer experiences start with listening to the customer to learn, instead of talking to the customer to sell.”
Well this is right, particularly when we our customers are young people, and what we are selling is a service for young people. This is why we have a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) here at v so that we can listen, and so we can learn.
v believes that young people contribute in a valuable and positive way to our society, and wants to provide them with more opportunities to do so. We believe that by working in a participatory way, new and innovative solutions can be found, young people can develop their skills, and our organisation can be more effective in engaging other young people. By keeping young people involved at all levels or our management and delivery, we will stay attuned and responsive to the needs, passions, and aspirations of young people, and can make a larger impact.
v’s Youth Advisory Board, (The transition team and later our brand new recruits) are young people, who we have been listening to, as they work alongside staff to develop and implement ideas and plans for our brand new programme Teamv.
Over the past two weeks, YAB members have been heading out to fresher’s fairs around the country and promoting the programme, not only that – next Saturday we have a meeting of the YAB to work on firming up the campaigns the Teamv leaders will take part in, and furthermore planning for interviewing and inducting the leaders.
All in all, it’s a really busy time for our YAB members, with plenty more coming soon.