This week is National Student Volunteer Week, celebrating the positive impact students have in the wider community.
Amy is a student at Keele University, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, studying Criminology. She also volunteers with our young care leavers, helping the young people with life skills: “I was interested in volunteering. I looked at Concrete and thought yes that’s where I want to go.
“I didn’t expect to be able to jump straight in but on my first day, I overheard a conversation about one of the residents not feeling very well. I asked if I could pop up and see her and they agreed. So I went up and had a chat with her and when I came back down I was shown how to record the chat in the system. Then it just took off from there.”
Since then, Amy has helped the young people with budgeting, meal planning, getting along to meetings and courses, writing CVs and applying for jobs, and even signing up for the doctors.
“When I can achieve something – even just with the little things – it just makes me feel good that I can help.”
Amy admits she was a bit nervous about starting and thought she might not be able to make a difference or the young people might not connect to her: “I thought I was going to get eaten alive but it hasn’t been like that.
“A lot of them don’t have anyone – they might not have parents about or many friends so knowing that I can be there for them and support them, that makes me feel really good.”
As well as helping the young care leavers, Amy says volunteering has also had lots of benefits for her too: “I feel overall happier. When I’m on my way in I’m absolutely buzzing for the day and when I go home, I can’t wait to come back in again the next time.”
Volunteering too has helped Amy decide what she wants to do as a career: “I thought I wanted to work in a prison, but since coming to Concrete, I really want to work in this sector now.
“I enjoy helping the young people – they’re the future and if we want to create a better society we need to start with them. I want to continue to make a difference to people’s lives.
“This is the best thing I have done in my life. I can’t even describe it. I just love it. I love being here with all my heart.”