Volunteering is a great way to stretch yourself and gain the confidence to try out new things.
MYT’s Student Support Adviser, Sarah, talks about her time volunteering with charity ‘Over The Wall’.
'A friend told me about an organisation called “Over The Wall” which is a charity that works with children and young people that are affected by life limiting illness. It provides fun activities and gives opportunities for children to try things they never thought they could and in turn builds confidence, and gives the opportunity to make friends who are in similar situations. They provide a week of amazing experiences in a safe and medically sound environment.
Each summer I attended 2-3 residential camps and was involved in so many activities. As part of a team I helped support the young people try new and challenging things from canoeing, abseiling, archery and swimming to arts and crafts and talent shows. The medical needs were mainly addressed by the medical team (who were also volunteers) so the focus for my role was on the young people and helping them to achieve things they didn’t think possible - concentrating on them rather than their illnesses. The sense of achievement they felt when doing these activities was amazing as was the determination they had to push their own limits despite their illness.
Initially I wanted to volunteer to gain new experiences working with children and felt that as I had time in the summer that I wanted to do something worthwhile. What I actually gained was so much more. I did gain so many valuable experiences that I would go on to use in different job roles but I also met some incredible people, and probably found out a lot about myself! I pushed myself out of my own comfort zone and that in turn improved my own confidence. Once I had volunteered a couple of times I was able to try different roles such as team leader so found I was given the opportunity to use different skills in a supportive environment. Working with young people that are going through such a tough time is truly humbling. It made me realize how lucky I am and made me more determined to go back many times to help support the organisation with the work they do.
I would say to anybody thinking about volunteering to find something that you are interested in and think about why you want to do this. But, don’t limit yourself - you might be surprised at what you can achieve. Volunteering led me to new life experiences and eventually new job roles that I may not have even considered. Go for it!'