A young family of adventurers living by the sea

Monday, 24 September 2018

Volunteer Of The Year: My Story

 For the past three year I have volunteered with the Young Women's Trust. I'm the first to say that I fell into volunteering and really didn't know what to expect. After facing multiple accounts of discrimination for being a young parent from all avenues such as work and university, I wanted an outlet where I could speak about my experiences and try and challenge the stereotype that young parents face.

Through my time with the Young Women's Trust I realised that there were more problems that young women faced beyond being a parent. With everything from the gender pay gap, to job discrimination, to apprentices being paid an unfair wage. I wanted to talk about these issues and put myself forward for every and any opportunity that I had experience of and I could talk about. But I honestly didn't think that anyone would listen. For I was a young mum that had been shunned by some of the places that were supposed to support her. Why would the public and MP's listen to what I had to say.

Third Sector Awards - VOlunteer Of the year
Joining the Young Women's Trust's advisory panel really gave me the confidence to speak out. I received media training, learnt about public speaking and had campaign training so I knew how to evolve something from an idea into an end result. It also gave me a fantastic group of friends who stood behind me whenever I did something with the charity. It left me feeling empowered and like my voice mattered to make a difference. I realised that I had the strength and the power to make noise and I had given myself the pep talk to get stuck in and get involved as much as possible.  

From working with the Young Women's Trust I have gone on tv, spoken on the radio and been featured in newspapers to talk about various issues that young women face. I've jumped on trains and spoken in parliament to MP's about what needs to change in legislations. I've been and spoken at conferences about my experiences and how that led me down the volunteering path and challenged people that had opposing views. According to the Young Women's Trust, I've done over 70 pieces of individual voluntary opportunities for them. It's crazy to see it all written down. 

I even teamed up with other charities and organisations to spread the message even further. Including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Pregnant Then Screwed. I honestly just wanted to share my story and make sure that no other young woman felt the way that I and so many others I know had felt. Each piece of volunteering gave not only my confidence a boost, but also filled my heart with pride that I was on the right path in life.

I found a voice inside me that I never realised I had. But I also realised that volunteering was the part of my life that I loved the most (after my family of course!). I loved each and every thing that I did as I felt that I was making a difference. It was a selfless act that was all about stirring a change in people. Something that I never expected recognition for, as I was just doing something that needed to be done. I needed to speak out and speak loud, I didn't need any thanks for it, I was just enjoying every minute of the journey. 


Third Sector Awards - VOlunteer Of the year

So when the email came through that I had been shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year at one of the biggest charity awards I was a bit shocked. For what I do doesn't feel like it needs to be recognised or congratulated most of the time. I just tell my story and hope that it makes a difference in any little way possible. I just give those that feel like they are voiceless a voice and platform to share their story. I just campaign for the next generation to not experience what I have been through. Yet somehow the judging panel not only shortlisted me. They gave me the award. I won.

I remember sitting in the awards ceremony, surrounded by fantastic people that had done brilliant things for the charity sector and just being happy I was around them. Never in a million years did I expect my name to be called. And to be honest, I'm still in a bit of shock that it was called. According to everyone sat with us, the audience erupted and I had a standing ovation. Something that I don't remember as I was in such a haze and state of shock. I don't even recall what was said in the winner's video, so I can't tell you why they even picked me. But with people rushing up to me to congratulate me and everyone wanting to talk to me, I realised that I did deserve this award as much as any other winner.

It's strange to think that I've won an award for helping others. But that pride in my heart isn't just for the work that I do, it's for all that I have achieved. I've gone from being a young mum that everyone shunned and stereotyped. The one that was told to be a benefit scrounger and give up a dream career, to now being an award winning volunteer that's aspiring to work in the charity sector at some point in her career. I am a young woman that wants to help the next young woman that needs a voice.

Volunteering is something that I try and encourage everyone to do once in their life. From helping out at a litter pick, to helping out at the school, or even helping someone in the local community. It doesn't have to be on the scale of raising hundreds of pounds for charity, or doing things that I've done. It takes a moment to help, but you'll remember it forever.

Whilst volunteering was something that I fell into, I think volunteering is always going to be a part of my life now. I may have won an award, but this is only the beginning of my campaigning and volunteering journey. It's been some of the best years of my life and given me everything that I never expected. From friends, to experiences and confidence, I know that I can take on anything in life because I know that my story matters.

Third Sector Awards - VOlunteer Of the year

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1 comment

  1. Congratulations, you have achieved so much for so many people. I think volunteering is really important too and the UK doesn’t make it as easy as other countries or make regular volunteering part of people’s lives. I lived in New York a few years ago and there was an organisation called New York Cares, essentially it matched volunteers with causes. You signed in and set the date and time you had available and a list of projects came up. Thought you might find this an interesting concept to get more people volunteering x

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