We talk to Amy one of our Volunteer Youth Workers. Here, Amy tells us about her experience volunteering with Bolton Lads & Girls Club
Hi, what’s your name and what do you do at Bolton Lads & Girls Club?
My name is Amy and I have been volunteering at Bolton Lads & Girls Club for five years now. I started off as a Young Leader and am now a main volunteer in Junior Club, mainly in inclusion volunteering with young people with additional needs.
How did you get into volunteering?
I first heard about volunteering when I went on NCS for the summer and we went to BLGC where I became a Senior Club member. I was encouraged by staff to become a Young Leader and then progressed to become a volunteer when I left Senior Club. The main reason I wanted to volunteer was because I have always wanted to work with young people. I am autistic and hearing impaired and so I felt like I could relate to the young people who come to our inclusion group as well. I wanted to show them that they can do exciting things like volunteering as well.
What is a normal volunteering session like for you?
Each session is different. Depending on the day or what else is going on, it can be really busy or really quiet, but each is great for different reasons. We can do loads of different things, I change it depending on which young people come in that day and what they want to do but we will mainly try and do sensory activities like music, activities with textures and lights, and quiet activities. Seeing all the young people getting involved and enjoying themselves makes me happy.
What do you find most enjoyable about volunteering?
I enjoy absolutely everything, but what I find most enjoyable is just seeing all the young people smile, laugh and have fun.
What has been your best moment?
I’ve had a few over the years! One of my best moments was when I was a Young Leader and I was nominated for the Young Leader of the Year award across all the Onside Youth Zones. I ended up winning! It was absolutely fantastic, I had no idea I was going to win. Then more recently I was awarded January’s Volunteer of the Month award, which again was such a shock. I don’t think of myself doing anything special, I just come in and volunteer!
One of my favourite things I do as a volunteer is teaching young people sign language through learning song lyrics and putting on performances. It is amazing how fast they learn, and it makes me so happy that all these young people are interested in learning sign language, not just those that are hearing impaired, it makes me cry! I saw a young person in the crowd at the Christmas light switch on and one of the songs we had learnt came on and she was stood there signing it by herself. It was incredible.
Have you had any challenges?
I don’t think I would call them challenges. The young people I work with have additional needs, so there are some challenges that come with that, but they are manageable challenges and that is a part of my volunteer role and it is what I enjoy. I wouldn’t volunteer in inclusion if it was too much of a challenge!
What support have you had from BLGC?
I have had tons of support. When I first came to BLGC I had no confidence, I was scared to even speak, I would just sign. The staff have been amazing and have really encouraged me throughout my journey from Young Leader to now and it has really helped me to build my confidence. I have also learnt so much. When you first start volunteering you receive great training and learn about safeguarding and boundaries.
What would you say to anyone interested in volunteering?
I would absolutely recommend volunteering with Bolton Lads & Girls Club. If you are interested in volunteering it is great opportunity to use as a work placement as you learn so much about working with young people, how to manage different activities and gain loads of new experiences. There is so much to do and get involved in that you will never stop learning!
Thanks Amy, you are an incredible volunteer and such an integral part of our Junior Club team!