We speak to Georgina Murray, one of our new Independent Visitors 

What is your volunteering role in BLGC? 

I am an Independent Visitor, I meet with a young person in care every 2-3 weeks and provide practical and emotional support. By day, I am a teacher, and I enjoy the Mentoring side of that. I applied for both the Mentor and IV role, but was encouraged to go for the IV role as the service was just starting up. It sounded more up my street to be honest. Initially, I was very interested in children who have social and emotional behavioural difficulties, so I thought I wanted to get more experience working with young people, and was particularly interested in the Mentoring role and that type of relationship that you have with the young person.

How did you first hear of Bolton Lads & Girls Club? 

I got it into my head that I wanted to Mentor, so I literally just googled ‘mentor children Bolton’ and you were the first thing that came up!

What is your normal volunteering session like? 

My young person is only 9. She’s not the type of child that goes deep; when we go out we just have fun and spend time together. You can have fun with them, you’re not authoritarian, you’re a friend. We get on really well, she can be herself around me and I feel the same about her. I’ve been very welcomed. It’s been really smooth. We’ve done all sorts of things, I’ve taken her up Rivington Pike, she’s been to the cinema, we took my dog to Clifton Country Park, we had an ice cream.

It’s really nice. Every time I come away from our sessions I just think ‘this is so worthwhile’. I think every adult that has a spare hour should use it for this– what is an hour? You waste an hour watching TV – there is a young person out there who would benefit from spending time with you.

Do you enjoy volunteering with BLGC? 

I love it. I absolutely love it. No regrets. It’s such a wonderful thing to do. It makes you feel good about yourself, but it is a two way thing, my young person has said she loves it too. I don’t have children, so it’s great to get to do things that I wouldn’t usually do with my adult friends. It brings out my inner child. It’s brilliant!

What support do you get from the club? 

The support from the club is really great, we had a full day of training which was in depth, we did safeguarding and a really interesting evening on attachment theory which was fascinating. We had a little bit about counselling techniques too because sometimes the young people will open up about their past. The basic training was really good. After every visit I call Sarah (Head of Targeted Youth Services) and we have a chat about how it went, she’s really supportive and experienced and it made me feel better that I had reacted in the right way. You’re all great here.

Why did you decide to donate your time to the club? 

The more involved I’ve been in my training, I just think it’s really important, some young people have really challenging behaviour, but most of the time it’s because no adult has made them feel special, or hasn’t loved them. As a community I think it’s our responsibility to help them. As well as it being something I want to do, I feel like it’s a duty to invest in our young people as they are the future.

Do you feel like you had to give anything up to Volunteer?

I didn’t feel like I had to give anything up. It was about being organised. Once you’ve made the plan, you cannot let the young person down, that’s a lot of what keeps you going. Knowing that you’ve got that young person relying on you, and you’ve got a lot of responsibility -but I don’t think that should put anyone off. It’s a much better way to spend your time. It’s only an hour. Most people will go to the pub for an hour with their mates. I also don’t know if people are intimidated by young people, especially if they don’t have children of their own. I think being a teenager is really difficult. You’ve just got to have patience with them.

What has been your most rewarding experience? 

Her carer’s were worried that she didn’t play enough, so I bought a teddy and left it in my car, and the instant she got in there she spotted it and started to engage with it, the teddy would come on the visits and she would show everything to it. She’s a bit energetic, maybe she hasn’t found people who get her, because we always have a laugh. We were worried it was something she’d missed out on when she was little, but using the teddy seems to have really helped, and I got some really good feedback on this from the Club.

Why should other people get involved with the club? 

I’m excited to watch her grow up and to develop that relationship with her. That’s why it’s wonderful to become an IV because it is a longer relationship, and you get matched with the younger person than with most Mentoring schemes. In the IV role, they know they have that consistent person for a long while.

Would you recommend volunteering with BLGC? 

Yes, definitely. I also think it develops your skills in other areas. If I want to help other young people with more challenging behaviour, it’s hard to do it through my job, so this really gives me an outlet to develop those skills. You can volunteer what you want to do – it’s worthwhile volunteering to pursue passions and develop skills.

Thanks Georgina, it was a pleasure interviewing you and hearing such positive things about your experiences!