We speak to Maureen Hoyle and Therese Powell, who together make up our Inclusion team in our Youth Club!
What is your volunteering role within Bolton Lads & Girls Club?Therese: We both work in Inclusion. We formed the independence group about 30 years ago with about 20 young people who had different disabilities, who didn’t go anywhere, were very lost and lonely, and they started coming to the old BLGC on Bark Street. We did a 6 week programme, to see if they liked it and they loved it, and it took off from there. At one point we had 60 or 70 young people just in our Independence group. We did all kind of things, we used to go on holiday, to the theatre, out for meals, nightclubs, because it was all part of independence. It was out of this world to see these young people who just wanted so much to be a part of everything. It just kind of transpired from there, and now it’s the Inclusion group, which means everybody can join, so it has changed in that respect, opening it up wider, which I think is good.
How did you first hear of Bolton Lads & Girls Club? Maureen: I have a son who has Autism and he went to a special school, and some of the team came down and talked about BLGC at the school and recommended I bring my son down. I met Therese and we have been friends ever since, and it ended up with me volunteering! We have worked together for 19 years now.
Why do you volunteer your time?
Maureen: I just loved it straight away, it’s a great team. It became my second home. When we walk through that door, no matter what has happened that day, we leave it all behind, and when we come in its all about the young people.
Therese: When you are working with young people you give a lot of yourself, but you get it back tenfold.
What is your normal volunteering session like?
Therese: Every week is a new activity and the ideas are what the young people have asked to do, it’s all centred on what they will enjoy and want to do.
Maureen: We do a monthly agenda of activities. So tonight we are doing Pilates, which is a nice calming activity, and then we are doing karaoke and boxing. We then start a ‘brew and a chat’ service for the whole club, we must make about 80 a night! It’s all about taking the time to talk to someone. Then we sit in the rec area and its chill time, having a bit of one on one talking time with young people who need someone to listen.
What do you specifically enjoy about volunteering with BLGC?
Therese: We don’t see the disability, we see the young person, who is just like any other young person. They have the same aspirations, the same wants and needs, they physically may not be able to do everything, but they still have that want to be everything that every other young person is, and here allows them to do that. That’s what I enjoy the most, being a part of allowing that to happen.
Maureen: Seeing the young people smile.
How does volunteering fit into your life?
Maureen: I only do two evenings, so it’s very easy for me and it’s just always fitted in. My family love that I get so much out of it. Our husbands couldn’t believe our commitment, but it’s that passion that kept us coming down every time, and we still have that passion 19 years later.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
Therese: One of my most rewarding experiences was when I did residential a few years back and taking young people away who have never made a cup of tea or been away from home, and allowing them to do things and to try these things that may be scary. They got to be kids, make mistakes, and enjoy themselves. That’s what we try and do every session. We aren’t schools, or parents, we are here to let them be young people.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Therese: We’ve had some challenges, but we got through it. We don’t stop working and keep going.
Would you recommend volunteering with BLGC?
Maureen: Yes definitely, volunteering always has its place!
Thank you Maureen and Therese, you are both incredible, and such a huge part of what makes BLGC great!