Meet Richard! Richard has been a volunteer for over 16 years and an incredible role model to many young people in the area. After many years with us we are sad to see him go but can't thank him enough for all he has done for the charity. We spoke to him about his experience of volunteering in the hope it can inspire others to get involved.
In your own words how would you describe your time volunteering with us?
I started volunteering to try and give something back to the community, but I also learned a lot about the challenges facing young people in Hartlepool over the last 16 years. Although many of the young people I met had anger issues, which is why they were referred to the service, I found the majority of them to be funny, engaging and great team players who often looked after each other. That was also true with the volunteer mentors, and I’m delighted to say that I’m still in touch with a lot of the mentors that I’ve worked with over the years, and count them as my friends.
Which did you prefer, the Mentor or IV role and why?
These roles were like chalk and cheese, so it’s difficult to compare the two. As a mentor, I was part of a small group of people who met every week to help our young people meet their individual targets, and to encourage them to work together in our group activities. It was a great time, we had lots of laughs in the group which often carried on with the mentors bonding together in the pub afterwards. The young people that we were matched with stayed with the service for about a year or so, until they achieved their own targets. After they left, we were matched with another young person, and the cycle started over again.
As an IV, I was matched with a young boy who I had previously mentored. Instead of attending group sessions, we were given a budget of £500 per year to go and spend time together doing activities that we both agreed to do. So we would go trampolining, tenpin bowling, see the latest blockbuster movie at the cinema, go for a meal together, visit the Sunderland Illuminations, walk up Roseberry Topping, go for a stroll around Summerhill, the Headland, Seaton Carew, Crimdon, etc. Over the 8 years that I was his IV, I saw a shy young boy develop into a confident young adult.
What is one thing the young people you've helped has taught you?
That I should never give up. Sometimes it was hard work being a volunteer, and I thought that I wasn’t getting through to my young person, but perseverance usually won through, and I was finally able to celebrate their successes with them. here are too many fond memories to pick a favourite one. You just had to be there to appreciate the fun times that we had together.
What was one of the hardest parts of volunteering?
Saying goodbye to the young people when they reached all of their goals, and they left the service, was always a difficult time for me. Fortunately for me, I was quickly matched with another person and I had no time to dwell on the past.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering at CFNE but still not sure?
Please give it a go! There are young people out there desperate to receive the benefits of your friendship. I can guarantee that you will not regret giving a single minute of your time for the welfare of those who need it.
We're always in need of volunteers in particular male role models to join our Independent Visitor project. We welcome enquiries from everyone 18+ who lived in Teesside. We provide full training and support. To read more about the this role just click below!