Our third Volunteers’ Week Spirit Story comes from Hannah – a volunteer with City Year UK.
City Year UK is a youth social action charity, challenging 18 - 25 year olds to give a year in their local community supporting students and schools in disadvantaged areas across Greater Manchester.
City Year volunteers give their time 4 days a week at a local school as tutors, mentors and role models, supporting students both in and outside the classroom.
Volunteers also undertake training one day a week to support the work they do in schools and to help them develop transferable and employability skills.
Jo Tripney, Recruitment Officer for Greater Manchester said:
"We involve volunteers as 'near-peer' mentors as (in terms of their age), they are closer to school age children and can empathise with what they are going through. Volunteers are involved in every aspect of school life; they go into the classroom and support with lessons, they run one to one support sessions with children that are struggling, they even get involved in break and lunchtime activities - and set up after school clubs!"
"We also invovle volunteers to offer them development opportunitites - to upskill the next generation that is coming through. Volunteers gain training through our leadership development programme (which is accredited). As the commitment to City Year is significant, we provide living and travel expenses - and a uniform. "
Jo Tripney: "Our Volunteers give over 1000 hours a year and work with 100's of children who without them would have less suport."
Hannah Affleck - Volunteer Mentor for City Year UK
How and why did you get into volunteering?
"I'm currently a Criminology and Psychology student, I wasn't planning on doing a placement year as part of my studies, but one day, City Year visited our university to talk about their work. I was capticated by what they had to say - it was something that I really wanted to do!"
"I've always wanted to work with children as well, and this looked like a really good opportunity to explore that."
Can you describe a typical day when you volunteer with your organisation?
"My day starts at around 8:15 am, we talk with fellow volunteers, teachers and school colleagues to ensure that the day starts on a positive note. I support in a classroom from 9 am until 11 am - this could be with behaviour or school work."
"At break time, we'll also help with behaviour management and organise games or activities. Prior to lunch we go back into lessons and help with maths, english or guided reading. At lunchtime we run things like 'behaviour clubs' to ensure that pupils with more challenging behaviour are ready to take part in lessons in the afternoon."
"We have a lunch break - which allows us some time to reflect and decompress, we then help out with more reading in the last hour of school - we really see the kids grow at this time!"
"We also run different after school clubs at the end of the day - I run a textiles club (which is the most chaotic!), we see the children safely on their way from school and tidy up."
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
"I enjoy seeing the difference I am making in children - I enjoy watching them grow as people."
"I remember working with a more challenging child (of 9 or 10 that I focus on), their behaviour was very poor and would often join me at lunchtime - in the behaviour club. One day, after spending a lot of time and effort building something from lego, they were so proud that they wanted to show others. Unfortunately, a fellow pupil knocked it from their hand and it smahsed into a thousand pieces - I recall thinking: 'oh no! we're going to have a real problem on our hands here'. Imagine my joy when they collected the pieces together and said: 'I had fun building it once, I'll have fun building it again' - this was later discovered to of been based on the behaviour I'd exhibited previously!"
Hannah Affleck: "I've grown so much as a person, I'm more confident in many aspects, especially with public speaking - which I used to fear!"
What advice would you give to other people that want to volunteer?
"It's going to be tough - depending on what you do! It is so worth it, if you stick it out, it'll be the most rewarding thing you'll ever do."
Jo on Hannah:
"Hannah has made a massive impact at the school she serves, she's been able to reach children that face challenges, and has helped them integrate more into school!"
City Year UK is keen to hear from people who would like to support them; you can read more about the organisation and ways to get involved via their website at: cityyear.org.uk/join.