Volunteer Stories (Feb 2020)

Trevor

My story began when I retired. At last it was a “forever holiday” or so I thought! After the “honeymoon period “faded panic reared its head. What am I going to do with my now empty life? 

My wife encouraged me to train for a voluntary role for “Friends of Young Carers” as it was known then.  It is now “Wigan and Leigh Young Carers” (WALYC).

I was invited to attend a training course which I nearly opted out of as I was the only man on it. However, deep down, I knew it was the right thing to stick with it and I completed the course. I have now been volunteering for WALYC for well over 10 years.

Why you may ask, do I love volunteering? The answer is quite simple. Over the years I have seen the on-going positive difference our support makes to the lives of the children and their families. The children can have great fun and at the same time have wonderful experiences and gain new skills. There are many things that the children can do. I could go on forever. They can get involved with groups, cook clubs, trips to pantomimes, the cinema and park outings. WALYC also provide some great activity weekends. There’s a befriending service and the opportunity for short holidays in the WALYC lodge at Marton Mere.

What’s in it for me, you may ask? Volunteering for WALYC has given me a sense of purpose in life. I feel a great sense of pride and joy. It keeps me active and busy. I love to see the children’s happy faces and to see them gain confidence and self-esteem. WALYC certainly makes a positive difference and I don’t intend to give up my volunteering role any time soon.

Joanne

Hi, my name is Joanne and I have been a volunteer for Wigan and Leigh Young Carers for the last five years. I have also been a group leader for the last two years. In my day job I work as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.

I started out as a volunteer for two of the groups, Parkside and Sunshine, which I found very rewarding. The group leader for Parkside Group moved on two years ago and I offered to take on the role.

The main reason I volunteer for WALYC is for the satisfaction of seeing the young people have lots of fun and enjoyment. To see them develop into well rounded young people is a joy.  At the same time, we give them a much needed and well-deserved break from their caring responsibilities. From starting volunteering with just two groups I now run one and help with three others. This makes the rewards and satisfaction even greater. 

John

I first started volunteering with WALYC in July 2016. My background consisted of working in the Armed Forces, Corporate IT Management, and at the start of my volunteering as a self-employed counsellor. 

Having just moved back to the North West after many years working away, I wanted to become involved in something that supported the local community.  I also felt that I needed experience of working with young people as all of my counselling training and
experience was with adults .

What I hadn’t realised was just how rewarding an experience it would be. Since starting the volunteering I have got to know some amazing young people who are an incredible peer support network for each other. It is a privilege to spend time with them on a fortnightly basis.

The experience I have gained has also helped me within my work life and led me to work with young people and children on a full-time basis.  Within six months of starting volunteering I started to work on an employed basis as a young person’s mentor at a charity and I now work at a local primary school in a pastoral role. I would definitely recommend WALYC to anyone considering a voluntary role.

Amanda

I’m Amanda and I am group leader for Turtle Juniors group ages 5-11 years in Leigh. I have volunteered with this group for 6 years and I have to say I have loved every minute. The adventures we have been on! 

The first day I volunteered we did bell boating on Scotsman flash. We have been to Hinning House for the week to do ghyll scrambling and orienteering. We have been to Farmageddon for Halloween scares. We go to the roller rink for a skating disco and hotdogs. We have trips to the cinema and visits to the park. So many more trips, too many to mention. 

So why do I do this? Well the first time I came I met a young person who amazed and inspired me. That young person took on the caring responsibilities for his family because there was no one else to do it!  I asked him why and he replied because you love them and there is what to do for those you love. That moment I realised that me giving three hours a fortnight is nothing compared to what this young person gives to their family. From that day I never looked back.

All it takes to give a little fun and respite to a group of young carers is three hours a fortnight of my time. Not only have I met some amazing young people I have made some amazing friends along the way!