In a previous blog I wrote about the effects of social isolation for the elderly but this is a massive issue in rural communities, which is far reaching. It effects many other groups including the young, where social isolation can manifest itself in many ways including anti-social behaviour. This, alongside Holsworthy being identified as an area of deprivation, is something Holsworthy Youth Group recognise. So their key objectives include providing a safe place for young people to meet, socialise and interact where they are not seen to be a nuisance or a threat to other members of the community.
But perhaps one of the most interesting of their objectives for me, is that these young people are encouraged to give up their time to volunteer to support others in their community. At Christmas seven young volunteers from the Youth Club gave up their time to help out at the Children’s Christmas Party hosted by Holsworthy & District Lions. They helped with arts and crafts, acted as team leaders for games and dancing and even helped with clearing away at the end. From the photo it looks like they had great fun.
For those of you who are old enough to remember comedy programmes such as “It ain’t Half Hot Mum”, which depicted the misadventures of a British artillery unit stationed in India. You will also remember the sergeant major barking instructions to the line of soldiers: “All those wishing to volunteer take one pace forward.” All but one of the platoon promptly took a step back leaving a soldier unwittingly as the only volunteer, usually to do an unpleasant job.
But the true spirit of volunteering is to freely make a choice to spend unpaid time doing something that aims to benefit others. The choice of what we do relates to what interests us and is not a chore but a joy. In my volunteering role as an ambassador with DCF I enjoy visiting groups, where I learn an enormous amount, thus expanding my life experiences. And writing these blogs is a secret passion of mine to become a writer! So it is not just a one way street!
The young people’s volunteering initiatives are recognised and rewarded at Holsworthy & Rural CATS Awards Evenings. The awards are designed to shine a light on the positive contributions made to the community by local young people, again aiding community cohesion and inter-generational respect. Since 2011 the awards have recognised and rewarded 2,672 young people.
The results of engaging with young people in this way has far reaching benefits for the community and there has been feedback from local police regarding positive changes in attitude of young people. Local schools have also commented on the positive effects that the Youth Centre has had, particularly on youngsters with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, especially regarding the summer programme of activities.
In my youth I was a Girl Guide and then Ranger Guide, when I was involved in similar activities, including volunteering. I don’t think I thought too hard about at the time but now in my Jubilacion (Spanish for retirement and so much more celebratory!) I find my volunteer ambassador role for DCF, and other voluntary work I am involved in, extremely rewarding. I am sure my courage and confidence to get involved and the enjoyment of doing so has its roots from this time. And has also led me to live a more generous life.
We must not underestimate the importance of such projects, which provide young people with informed choices in life. Young people are the future. I am proud to be involved with DCF and our support of this and many other youth projects, which provide our communities with a positive and sustainable future.