We catch up with Hollie Marsden, one of our amazing Youth Club Volunteers. Hollie has been volunteering with Bolton Lads & Girls Club since September 2018 as part of her University Placement and has been coming every Wednesday and Friday to join our Junior Club!

Hi Hollie! So how did you first get involved in Volunteering with Bolton Lads & Girls Club?

I’m in my third year at University and as part of my course we have to complete a placement in something that is related to our course but also that we are interested in. I was looking through through Do-it (an online volunteering platform) and I was looking at few different places but BLGC was the only one that really stood out to me as being somewhere interesting. So I got in contact and came in for an informal chat with Saz (Volunteer Coordinator) to find out more and then went to the training and got started from there!

How did you find your first session volunteering?

To be honest when I was coming down to the Youth Club that first day I was feeling nervous because it was a new experience and new people. I was actually more worried about meeting the staff rather than the kids! But Saz was there to get me settled in and was very welcoming and all the other staff and volunteers in each of the different areas of the youth club were also so welcoming so I soon felt comfortable. Throughout the session everyone was great and prepared to help you if I needed it, I was never just on left on my own so I had that support I needed on the first night.

That’s great to hear! How have you found the support as you’ve carried on volunteering?

I don’t think I could have asked for better support and it is such a great team! Now I come in and know everyone so well and everyone is friendly saying hi. The first couple of times I was a bit nervous still and so spent most of the time around the pool table where there were not too any other staff members or volunteers. Even then the other staff members would make an effort to come over and talk to me and check if I was doing OK and ask if I wanted to engage in a different activity they were doing. This was really good for me as it really encouraged me to get involved with the team and now I go in every session and it is so easy to talk to everyone and we all get along really well.

Which has been your favourite area to get involved in?

I think the rec and the art. I spend most of my time in the rec area as there is loads to do and its really fun, but I also really enjoy the art area every now and again as it is quieter area and is a great way of talking to the young people. Ruben (Arts Coordinator) who runs the art area is really nice and I get on with him really well.

Is there one experience that really stand out to you that was really rewarding?

It wasn’t that long after I had started volunteering. Louis (Youth Worker) was in the rec area and he had set up an obstacle course and he asked if I could give him a hand with it and after a few minutes he asked if I was OK running it by myself! It was the first experience I had had of running an activity by myself and it was a bit daunting to start with. It was really rewarding that Louis trusted me and thought that I was ready to take responsibility and his confidence in me made me feel more confident in myself as well.

Have you found anything particularly challenging?

One of the biggest challenges I have come across was when I was playing ping pong game with a couple of young people and another came over and said that a fight was about to start. It was the first situation like that I had been in so I went over not really knowing what to expect but assuming it wouldn’t be a big deal. The two boys were getting quite aggressive with each other and so I tried to diffuse the situation like we had been taught in training and then called one of the team to come over and help. It was a challenge but I felt confident in trying to resolve it knowing I had support.

How have you seen yourself develop?

When I started I had some objectives I really wanted to achieve. I mainly wanted to improve my confidence in engaging with activities and the team. This was actually really easy as the team are so nice so we have built really good relationships and they have encouraged me and given me opportunities to get involved with activities. Having people believing in you makes you feel like you can do it. The other one was I wanted to try a variety of activities. Trying all the activities on the first session gives you a great idea of which area you want to be in. I’ve been able to do so many different activities such as art, rec, picks ups, tuckshop, inclusion, girls engagement, literally everything!

What are you going to take away from this experience?

I always wanted to work with children but the only previous experience I had had was with much younger children in nursery’s. Volunteering here has made me realise that I can and really enjoy working with older children. The experience has reaffirmed what I want to do and provided great experience for the future such as how to handle challenging situations. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m still coming in even though I’ve completed all my hours for my placement and am going to continue volunteering.

How did you find the training?

I think the training was good. I had had a little bit of safeguarding training before but BLGC provided a lot more in-depth knowledge. There was some really good practical elements to the training which helped when I came across situations in the club, such as if a young person hugs you or the fight.

Would you recommend volunteering to other people?

Definitely! Everyone is so welcoming and it’s a great experience. There is literally no reason not to!

Thanks Hollie! It’s been great to see how involved you’ve got in the youth club engaging with our young people and grown into such an integral part of the Junior Club team.