We catch up with Ian Lindsay, one of our amazing Youth Club Volunteers, as he talks about why he volunteers with Bolton Lads & Girls Club.
Hi Ian, how did you first hear of Bolton lads & Girls Club?
The Club stands out in Bolton, it’s just always been here, and I actually came here as a kid myself, so it’s always been something I knew existed. I had been looking after my son for the last 4 years now, and as I was looking to what was going to happen next and getting back to work I realised I didn’t want to go back to what I used to do. I started looking for volunteering opportunities so I could get some experience for my new career change and saw an advert for Bolton Lads & Girls Club on a shop’s notice board. Originally the mentoring role really appealed to me, but after talking to the Volunteer Coordinator I realised that the youth club was more suited to me with its flexibility, and I’ve been here a while now!
What is your normal volunteering session like?
I just come in when I can on a Friday, usually for the start of the session. I support the team and other volunteers set up the games and support the activities. No two sessions are the same, whilst I would say I tend to gravitate towards the sports hall, you can actually find yourself in lots of different activities such as the games, art, tuck shop, or in a small group work session. It’s surprising what you can find yourself doing!
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
The most enjoyable part is when you have a big game going, like dodgeball, and everyone is running around and laughing and you’re not looking at the clock, you’re just in the moment having fun. The young people are in school all day having to sit down and be quiet, and then they come here and it’s the opposite – we encourage them to not sit down, get up and run around, and have as much fun as possible! It’s very enjoyable for the team members. I think that’s the most important part, if you’re having fun, you can see the young people having fun too. On the flip side you can also go and do smaller group work and that’s really rewarding.
What support do you get from the club?
In the beginning it can be nerve wracking and there is a lot going on. However, from the very first time I walked in to the Club I was meeting friendly people, and the training we had before we started really helped. You’re also never alone as there is a lot of experienced staff around and the Junior team leader, Deb, is great. I’m here to learn and she makes sure I get involved. You might not know how to handle a situation initially but if you watch how the team handle the situation then next time it comes up you know how to handle it. The kids themselves have lessons to teach you, so you are learning all the time.
Why do you volunteer your time?
The main reason I wanted to volunteer was to get some experience for a career change, but what has really made me stay is the team and how much fun it is.
How does volunteering fit into your life?
By committing to a certain day a week (I do Friday evenings) then it just becomes a part of your weekly schedule. However, there are times when I can’t come in, but I just let the team know and it’s never a problem. The flexibility is great.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
I’ve been here a while now and I would say the most rewarding time is when a young person feels comfortable enough around you and trusts you enough to feel like they can open up to you about their day and share a part of themselves. Seeing a new young person who is initially really nervous and to see them make friends two weeks later and running around and to be a part of that is really rewarding.
Why should other people get involved with the club?
They are so many different reasons why people come here; there are no two reasons the same. If you are worried about anything just talk to the team, explain the situation and they give you some great advice. You do your little bit, but really you are part of something a lot bigger and extraordinary. There are so many ways you can help, and whether you have tons of skills or no skills, if you are willing and you want to help, there is a place for you here, and you grow. If you’ve got a few spare hours and you’re bored of watching the same old TV programmes, you really haven’t got anything to lose! You’ll be joining a brilliant team of passionate people and have a ton of fun whilst making a difference.
Thanks for sharing your experiences Ian!