Editor's note: This is our first blog post direct from one of BHY's volunteers, Hannah Tugwell.
Having only joined the team in February this year, I’m one of the few volunteers who isn’t from the local area. I moved to Burgess Hill in December 2014 and I wanted to give some of my time to support a group locally. I got in touch with the volunteer centre in town, and they directed me to Burgess Hill Youth (BHY). I’m a youth worker in my professional life, and have been doing that for the last 8 years, and absolutely love my work. However, I don’t have much of an opportunity to build long-term relationships with young people in my current role because I visit different schools every day. Burgess Hill Youth Club gives me the chance to meet with a range of different young people and build a rapport in safe, informal and fun environment.
On Monday evenings (when I volunteer), we provide a welcoming space where young people can play pool, table tennis, cards, games consoles or several other activities we might find in the resources cupboard. We also have a coach who runs friendly football sessions for those who want to get involved. Some young people come down purely to play football, others join in with a variety of different activities and some may decide to find a space to simply sit and chat. That’s the great thing about the service that is provided by BHY- young people are encouraged to get involved and try new things, but they can also decide not to participate, and that’s fine too. We aim to cater to a range of different young people, depending on how they are feeling on the day, and what they’d like to get involved with.
As well as playing games and having fun, we also provide young people with a non-judgemental listening ear. Young people often come to BYH to seek out advice and support, or just to get something off their chest. This might be regarding a decision they need to make, an issue in their home life or at school, or something they are struggling with personally. In these situations, our role is not to tell a young person what to do, but to listen and guide them to feel more able to tackle these issues themselves.
On a personal level, volunteering at BHY is so rewarding, because I get to meet new and interesting people from different walks of life, with some great stories to tell (whilst having loads of fun!) and develop new skills and experience at the same time. However, it also gives me with the opportunity to be a role model to young people, and provide them with a welcoming and non-judgemental place, where they can be themselves.
Hannah Tugwell (28 years)