What is the festival?
For the past two years students have been fortunate enough to take part in a volunteering project organised by Essex County Council at Danbury outdoor centre working as an IML Facilitator with children and young people who are currently in care at the 'It's My Life' Festival.
All of these children are currently looked after by the Local Authority and therefore should be listened to and encouraged to be actively involved in decisions that have an impact on their lives along with the services they access and receive. The 'It's My Life' Festival is a week long where each day involves a different age group partaking in a range of outdoor activity. This is where the volunteers came in.
"This experience helped me devlop skills that can be transferred into the workplace"
Each day began with the facilitators (volunteers) leading the focus groups that had approximately 10 young people in them. A number of different questions were asked giving the young people the opportunity to talk and participate.
The young people were reminded by the volunteers that they did not know anything about them, they do not work with their social workers and they are there for no other reason than to listen to their views about the care they receive and their thoughts, wishes and feelings to try and improve things for them and other children in care.
"I really enjoyed having the time to build relationships with these children and join in with their fun"
Once these sessions were finished and the notes were written up the day did not end here! Volunteers stayed for the rest of the day and joined in with the activities the young people were taking part in. This included, rock climbing, ab sailing, free running, archery time round the zoo and football. This gave the volunteers the opportunity to be on the young people’s level, be involved in their interests, learn a little more about them and more importantly spend some time with them.
What this volunteering experience meant to us
I thoroughly enjoyed spending the week meeting fabulous young people and connecting with colleagues from all different areas of work. This experience helped me to develop skills that can be transferred into the workplace and gave me the opportunity to help these young people become more confident in trusting their own abilities
- Mary Carter, Volunteer and Social Work Society President
“What an experience! This week helped me understand the difficulty that young people in care can face, the issues that exist but also ways that they can be challenged. I really enjoyed having the time to build relationships with these children and join in with their fun"
- Chloe Booth, 2nd year Social Work Student
How you can help
If you would like to make a difference to a cause you are passionate about, whilst making yourself more employable and opening new doors for yourself, start your volunteering journey today:
1. Create your Volunteer Profile
2. Arrange to meet with a Volunteer Coordinator to discuss your options
3. Find and apply for a volunteering role here.
Are you an ARU student volunteer who has been on an inspiring volunteering journey? Get in contact with the Volunteer Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help to share your story.