I live in Switzerland, but was on a working-holiday with my partner. Whilst I was in the UK, I wanted to take the chance to spend my time wisely and in a different way.
Volunteering on Sense’s Holiday Club seemed to be exactly what I was looking for; working with children, enhancing my personal skills, but also giving me the chance to become part of the London community, and give something back.
New ways of communicating helped me develop stronger bonds with the children
A typical day volunteering started with us preparing rooms before the arrival of the children, and a briefing with the other volunteers and leaders.
Then my day would be spent giving one-to-one support with activities, preparing food for the person I supported and generally supporting the children with all the practical realities of the day.
I think communication was the biggest challenge I faced. However, overcoming was my greatest achievement. Listening carefully, being patient and trying new ways of communication helped me to understand the young boy I was supporting, and it created a stronger bond with him over time.
You can make a huge difference
We had lots of great experiences with all the young people, but my favourite moment was when they were all smiling whilst playing parachute games. In such moments you instantly knew we were doing something good.
This volunteering opportunity opened my eyes. These children and young people face massive challenges every day – much bigger ones then I ever did in my life! It’s just incredible to see how happy and positive they were when supported on the Holiday Club.
With today’s technology, it’s easy to stay in contact with the other volunteers, even across the different countries we’re living in. All the volunteers were so kind, fun, professional and dedicated. It made the experience so warm and welcoming and I’d definitely do it again if I return to the UK.
I’d definitely recommend volunteering. With only a little bit of your time, you can make a huge difference.
I’d say that a good volunteer is probably someone who is open minded, able to respect everyone’s differences, caring, patient, and a a good sense of humour helps!