What inspired you to get involved?
I began volunteering six years ago through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme but I have always had a passion for helping children with special needs. I found out about Junior Gateway through my church and immediately wanted to get involved. I volunteer there weekly and achieved my 200 Hours Award of Excellence in April. I love every minute of it, the kids are fabulous and itís more rewarding than any other volunteering organization Iíve worked with.
What does your volunteering involve?
My volunteering involves organizing, supervising and helping with activities and projects each week. I also help with the childrenís trip to the shop for snacks and with arts and crafts sessions. I have had the pleasure of helping organize fundraising events recently also.
What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role?
I believe enthusiasm is a must have and being keen encourages the children to get involved. As Gateway is a club for special needs children, volunteers need to be adaptable and have the ability to change activities to suit each age and ability present. Volunteering also requires you to really care for the kids and want to help them achieve their full potential.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering and what has been your highlight?
I love getting to know the children and building relationships with them. I constantly see a huge development in them, especially socially. It is very rewarding when you see the little things you do building up over time and helping the children. The highlight for me was when I was working with a young girl who was a selective mute, after a few months she began speaking, this was really rare for her so the time and effort I had put in had paid off.
Why would you encourage others to become a Millennium Volunteer and what advice would you give them?
I would encourage others to volunteer as it is a fabulous experience getting to know other people with the same passions as you. Itís really rewarding and the benefits from volunteering are immense! The time, energy and effort you put into the people you are working with is so important to them and it is a pleasure to do.