"It gives me a sense of pride".

7th June 2021

Volunteering is a key activity for young people engaged in our services. In our final Volunteers Week article, Courtney reflects on what volunteering means to her.

We were facilitating a focus group as part of Nightstop's work to ensure that services are coproduced with young people and are meeting their needs. The conversation turned to the subject of volunteering and Courtney spoke about her recent volunteering experience at a Nightstop event: "[It] brings me joy. It gives me a sense of pride".

Two short sentences but so very powerful in the way that they expressed how valuable an experience volunteering can be. Courtney had come to Nightstop as a teenager after finding herself homeless. She has since volunteered in a number of roles both with Nightstop supporting others accessing our services, and in the wider community.

Courtney has volunteered at Nightstop events, trained as a peer mentor and has been a Nightstop Ambassador talking about her experiences on national TV and radio with Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas. Volunteering has helped her to develop confidence, have new experiences and be an advocate for other young people experiencing homelessness.

At Nightstop, we are passionate about supporting young people to access volunteering opportunities with us and in the local community. In our focus group, we were told by young people that they needed those opportunities which not only grow confidence but also support the development of life skills, help them to make connections and gain experience for a future career. At Nightstop, we have a range of formal and informal opportunities that enable young people to get involved including training as a peer mentor or peer mediator, assisting at events, facilitating a social group or activity, being part of a Youth Panel influencing our work or being an Ambassador raising awareness of youth homelessness.

"Paying it forward"

For Courtney, volunteering isn't just about the skills. It's that sense of pride and being able to "pay it forward" as she describes it, making a difference and being a trail blazer for other young people who are just starting out on their journey after homelessness.

She said later that day in our focus group: "Everyone knows about homelessness but no-one knows your story. I want to be the voice for those who don't, or can't, say their story".

Thank you to Courtney, Crystal and Kaitlyn for supporting our work with Revolving Doors developing our volunteering offer for young people as part of our coproduction of services.