You don’t need special skills or any qualifications. All you need is a willingness to commit to two to four hours a week and a non-judgemental attitude which enables teenagers to talk to you and feel you really listen to what they say.
That’s the experience of Joanna Knight. Having had some experience of working with disadvantaged children between the ages of eight and 12, and bringing up her now 25-year-old son, Joanna felt she could help Children’s Services to support children, young people and families and help them to avoid the need for extensive social care intervention.
Joanna is one of our ‘Innovations’ Volunteers, mentoring young people and helping families across Hampshire. Volunteers are not required to have previous experience of working with children, young people or families, as full training is given.
Since February, Joanna has been mentoring a teenage boy, meeting with him once a week. Commenting on the impact she thinks this has had, she said:
I think it has helped to bring some much needed stability to his life and help him to continue living in the family home rather than going in to care. I have really enjoyed helping to build his confidence and I am now very familiar with our local fast food restaurant and can recommend their frappes!
I think I have achieved some stability for this young man. At the very least, the work that we do with young people in difficult situations shows them that society does care and that people are willing to listen and try to help improve their lives.
While we are grateful to all the volunteers that we have on board, we are keen to encourage more men to step forward to become volunteer mentors as we have a real shortage. We also want to increase volunteer numbers in the north east of Hampshire to support families who are struggling to cope with every day life. Louise Francsics lives in north east Hampshire. She became an Innovations Volunteer as she felt that, as well as being able to help people, it would be a good step towards a career change in to social care.
Louise has been volunteering for a year now and says:
I have really enjoyed the experience. There have been highs and lows along the way but when you see a family making a change and that it’s working for them, it gives you a real boost.
It has been good working with a family and seeing them pulling together and trying to work together. I have helped them to put new, evening routines in to place for younger members of the family and these are being followed. There is still more to do but seeing them taking small steps and growing in confidence as a family is very rewarding.
For more information and to register your interest in becoming an Innovation Volunteer: