Why do I keep volunteering year on year?

As we come together with charities across the country this National Volunteers’ week to celebrate the incredible contribution that volunteers make, we hear from Pam, one of our long-standing Mentoring Volunteers, about her experiences and what it is that keeps her returning to support our vulnerable young people, year after year. 

“When I heard about a new Mentoring Programme being set up by YAT in 2018, I was keen to get involved. I had always wanted to support vulnerable young people in some way, and having just signed up with YAT as a Programme Volunteer – and having had an amazing weekend away at their Coastal Camp – mentoring sounded like another great way to be involved. I wasn’t too sure how a fortnightly commitment would work out over a year, and as the programme was brand new at that time, it was a journey into the unknown for us as Mentoring Volunteers, and for the YAT team. The training package was well thought out, well delivered, and from the outset I have always felt well supported by the Mentoring Managers and other volunteers.

Looking back now, I never imagined that I would have had the privilege to meet and mentor such amazing young people, and that I would still be in the role 6 years on. Time and again I have been astounded by the courage and resilience of the young people involved, and by their willingness to throw themselves into the Mentoring Programme, building a unique relationship between mentor and mentee. One young person described having a mentor like ‘having an aunt’, someone who can be trusted, is reliable, who you can be yourself around and have fun with.

Why do I keep volunteering year on year? First of all, I have learnt an enormous amount about myself, and about working with young people. In that time I’ve changed careers, trained as a swim teacher, and learnt how to support young people facing challenges whilst helping them to recognise their achievements. Secondly, I am hugely inspired by all the young people I have met. I have seen fears being overcome, boundaries being pushed and confidence levels skyrocket. Each relationship has been unique, and young people have had their own aims for the time we’ve spent together. From one young person overcoming a fear of water, to another organising a session and working out the weekly budget. From one fulfilling a long-time dream of riding a horse, to another ordering for themselves in a restaurant. They all made the commitment to come out for the mentoring sessions week after week during our year together, no matter what was going on in their lives. The constants are growth, challenge, progress and a lot of smiles.

Finally, for me, being a mentor is immensely rewarding and great fun. It costs nothing but time, and a commitment to support to the best of your best ability for up to 12 months. Nothing in comparison to the immeasurable and potentially lifelong impact. I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough.”

If you have been inspired by Pam’s story and would like to know more about the mentoring role and how you could begin supporting a young person in September, please contact Becky Brotherton-Brown, Mentoring Programme Lead on 07592 664679, or email becky@youthadventuretrust.org.uk