We speak to Marina Lungenyi, 24, who volunteers as a Volunteer Youth Worker as part of her Student placement.
How did you first hear of Bolton Lads & Girls Club?
I’d heard of BLGC before, but I didn’t realise the amount of different activities that went on. One of the volunteer coordinators came into my university and gave a presentation and I realised all the different opportunities you can get involved in, and I was like I need to do that!
Why did you decide to volunteer your time?
I wanted to experience working with young people, especially teenagers, as I know it’s a tough age for young people and in this role you get real hands on experience.
What is your normal volunteering session like?
It’s always different! My supervisor asks me which area I like best, or which I want to improve on, so it was very much based around what I find interesting and developing my skills. I’m mainly in the rec area, setting up activities, or joining in the games in the sports hall. I also enjoy talking to the young people, particularly at the end of the session when things have quietened down a bit, just talking about their day.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at BLGC?
I really enjoy supporting the Youth Workers with the activities, and seeing how much the young people enjoy them and engage with everything we put on for them. I also really enjoy just talking to the young people. Every young person is different, so I really like engaging with young people from different backgrounds and cultures and sharing our different experiences.
What support do you get from the club?
Before I started we all attended training which is great as I’d never done anything about safeguarding or how to work with young people before. Whilst volunteering, we get a lot of feedback on how we are doing, and my supervisor is always asking me which areas I want to improve. The other staff members are always asking me if things are ok as well. The staff and volunteers are like a family and they really look out for each other.
How does volunteering fit into your life?
It’s really easy, you can come what time you prefer, which fits around university and my part time job. It’s actually not even that much time that you give when you think about it, just two hours a week. When you’re in the Club the time flies, so I actually wanted to do more, and ended up coming for way more hours than I needed to for my placement!
What has been your most rewarding experience whilst volunteering?
There’s a been a lot so far. When I’m on the rec area leading a game, some of the young people start out really nervous and unsure about joining in. I start by giving just a little encouragement, but that little encouragement is actually a big thing for that young person. When they join in, you can see their whole mood change. The reward you get out of it is huge.
What has been your biggest challenge?
When I first started I was really nervous, I thought I had to be perfect or that only a certain type of person who be suited to this role. I thought I would struggle with confidence and engaging with young people, as I wasn’t very good at communicating, but I found that my quirkiness actually is a strength here and that it encourages young people to engage with me and has made me feel more confident about myself.
How has your experiences helped your future career?
I’ve got tons of insight into how young people, particularly teenagers, behave and the challenges they face and how I can help them overcome it. I want to work with young people in the future so this has been invaluable providing me with hands on experience.
Would you recommend volunteering with BLGC?
It’s a great experience, like no other. I’ve never done something like it before. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, what your good at, and you leave each session knowing that you are making a real difference in young people’s lives.
Why should other people get involved with the club?
It’s a different experience from anything else. You’re really a big part of making a difference in young people’s lives. You really are having an impact that will carry on for years to come.
Thanks Marina, we have loved having you as a Volunteer, and are so excited that you have now joined BLGC as a member of staff!