A week’s work experience at YouthNet

News Volunteering at YouthNet

This week I’ve had the pleasure of looking after Sophie for a week’s work experience with us in the Engagement & Support Team. I’ve been amazed at how quickly she’s taken to everything thrown her way and we’re really going to miss her. Here’s what she’s been up to in her own words.

“As a member of TheSite Leaders, and someone who’s found TheSite.org helpful, I wanted to get a taste of what really goes on in the YouthNet office. My first day was 13th August, and my last the 17th August.  It’s been a really good laugh and I’ve even been able to spread my passion for badgers and smurfs.

On Monday, I was inducted by members of the Engagement & Support team Laura and Jo. Shortly after that I was given the opportunity to start producing content for YouthNet’s websites. I started off writing a personal story for Step Finder. It was difficult, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. I then used a site called bubbl.us which provides a useful way to mind map – you have the issue in the centre, then your options for support, the barriers, and ways to approach them optimistically. This was really useful! My finished piece looks very snug on the website and I look forward to seeing creations from others.

Tuesday I looked at TheSite.org’s ‘Chat and Text Services for Young People’ resource page. My task was to consider how it could be made easier to read and digest as well as more appealing with a splash of colour. I worked on this to make it more young people friendly and updated chat and text services that were missing.  I was able to generate a new layout, which had a splash of colour, Octis in the corner, with everything on one page. I spent the afternoon replying to threads on the TheSite.org boards using links from TheSite.org and elsewhere that offer people advice about how they can access help offline.

Wednesday seemed to be my most productive day. My first task was to write a discussion for the Leaders network to get feedback on the new chat resource page design. I then wrote a blog on the Leaders network, explaining what myself, Helen, Sean, Franki and Leanne got up to at 42nd Street. You can read more about the day in Sean’s blog, but all in all it was a constructive day, and TheSite gang, and the 42nd Street gang, really seemed to have enjoyed themselves!

Following this, I had agreed to do a case study for TheSite.org’s self-harm research. It was weird to talk about – but I’m hoping it will help others to reach out sooner, rather then later.

As a cool down exercise, I updated the discussion board threads on TheSite.org homepage to include links to those I’ve found interesting. I learnt how to use the brain noodling content management system too!

On Thursday I helped Helen out with the Do-it.org.uk blogs. This meant moderating comments from the back end and replying to people who wanted to get involved with volunteering. I also wrote a thread in Politics and Debates about Tony Nicklinson loosing his case in the High Court for the right to die. I’ve been following his updates since day one and found it very attention-grabbing.

Friday’s here :( it’s the last day and I’m writing a blog to remember the fantastic time I’ve had. Helen and I have also been swapping doughnuts because we’re that awesome. I don’t know what to put here, except when I have a free few days I’m coming back to see YouthNet staff again! It’s been lovely working on set tasks that I’ve felt comfortable with. I still think this week has gone too fast… I’ve entirely enjoyed myself and feel like I’ve fitted in. Oh and this lot are amazing for boosting my confidence, even if I did think it was impossible to do!”


Volunteers Week at YouthNet – Thanks to our Live Chat Moderators

News Volunteering Volunteering at YouthNet Youth

Volunteers Week LogoDay two of Volunteers Week and it’s time to recognise another group of YouthNet volunteers – Live Chat Moderators.

Four times a week we open up the chat room on TheSite.org for a two hour group chat session. Three out of those four sessions are run by volunteers and without them the service wouldn’t be as established as it is today. Our volunteers have enabled us to run more chat sessions than ever before and in turn support more and more young people in real time.

Visitors to the chat room can log in anonymously and talk about anything that’s bothering them. Volunteers are kept on their toes by the wide range of issues that come up. These range from the more trivial banter about what’s for dinner and what’s on TV, to serious discussions about mental health issues, relationships or homelessness to mention just a few.

Given that no chat session is the same, our volunteer chat mods need to be extremely adaptable. Creating a welcoming atmosphere is key, as well as building rapport and being able to offer emotional support and signposting to relevant sources of information and advice. 

I’d like to tell you a little bit about each of our amazing chat mods and what they bring to live chat.

Sandra – Since becoming a chat mod Sandra has gone on to be an online peer advisor as well. She’s also an accomplished Soprano and has recently been presenting a local radio show on Insight Radio. Her personality really shines through in chat sessions and she definitely has a way with words. Her chat debriefs are always our favourite email of the week.

Chloe – Chloe has graduated from University and hopes to become a clinical psychologist. Chat has allowed her to gain practical experience in using her skills to help others. Chloe has been able to relate to the people she helps in chat and built up a great rapport with the community.

Kaff – A long time fan of TheSite.org, Kaff uses her wealth of life experience and knowledge of TheSite to keep people coming back. She is a great listener and has an air of the wise old auntie about her 😉 She’s earned a lot of respect from the people that come to her sessions which enables her to diffuse potentially difficult situations with ease.

Wayne – Wayne enjoys a bit of football banter in chat but he’s also equally on the ball when it comes to offering straight talking advice and amazing analogies to put people’s problems into perspective. Wayne is visually impaired and teaches sighted people how to teach visually impaired people how to use computers (quite a mouthful). He’s also currently pursuing another moderating role away from TheSite.

Kimberley – Or is that Kimbers, Kim or Kimbo? Kimberley brings a sense of humour and fun to chat and is rarely lost for words. She’s currently studying to be a Careers Advisor and says herself that chat has become ‘second nature’.  She has recently helped us to create a new and improved training program and will be our first Live Chat Mentor to train a new volunteer.

All of our chat moderators have their own skills and quirks that bring something unique to live chat. Different visitors to chat will find they relate to different moderators and it’s these relationships that encourage people to return to TheSite and get the support that they need.