YouthNet have been very lucky that some of our fantastic volunteers have given up a week of their summer holidays to come and volunteer with us recently. Anjeli is one of our TheSite Leader volunteers and she spent last week helping the Engagement and Support and Partnerships Teams. Here’s what she got up to in her own words:
I’ve been connected to YouthNet for a few years now. It started when I was browsing Do-it when I was sixteen years old to find some volunteering opportunities and I came across Lifetracks. I was part of Lifetracks which involved me contributing to discussions in the run up to the launch of the Lifetracks website. Shortly after this, I joined the TheSite.org Leaders Network, which involves me contributing to online discussion boards and participating in live chats to help develop TheSite.org. I have previously come into the London office for a few offline events and when I came to the photo shoot for Barclays in April I started to wonder what it would be like to spend a week in the offices. So that’s why I’m here!
This week I have spent three days with the Engagement and Support team and two days with the Partnerships team. Here is what I got up to over my week here:
Laura and Clare gave me an induction to YouthNet, running me through what all the different teams do and in particular what Engagement and Support does. They gave me an overview of the different tasks I would be doing over the course of the week, and I felt really excited and welcome.
A lot of the work I did in Engagement and Support was very similar to the online volunteering I do with TheSite Leaders Network. I made use of my ability to consult on discussions, comment on projects and give constructive criticism.
Laura told me about the new pilot project called Technology Together, which is being run with Age UK, in the run up to the London Virgin Marathon in 2013. This project will involve young people teaching older people how to use technology. A toolkit has been produced to guide volunteers into their role, and to start up my week I looked at the booklet in detail and gave my thoughts as to the feel of the project, how it looked and its content. I then created a discussion on the Volunteer Network to encourage volunteers to give us some feedback. We have had a few responses this week so its been really informative to read about peoples thoughts on this initiative. Something which was also quite exciting was giving my thoughts on the actresses that would be featured in the launch of the project!
I also spent some time browsing around on Step Finder, which has been launched recently on TheSite.org as a way to help young people overcome barriers they face in seeking help services. I already knew about Step Finder from some tasks I completed in a live chat a few months ago, but I spent this time really learning about specific problems young people face, in preparation for a task Jo was to give me on Tuesday.
On Tuesday I created a discussion to tell the Leaders about an upcoming online workshop for Step Finder. This workshop is aimed at hearing people’s first hand experiences of seeking counselling services and I encouraged the relevant young volunteers to step forward.
Something I found really interested is looking at a training chat for Clare on self-care. This chat was for discussion board moderators, live chat moderators and peer advisors to address some of their thoughts and experiences when participating in online chats around self-harm. As I was editing the document I learnt a lot about the way people advise others and I found this really useful!
Another project I gave feedback on was the Essential skills training that YouthNet asks Peer Advisors to complete. In terms of supporting people and giving advice I found this extremely interesting, particularly as I am a Law student, so any experience on advising others is key to someone like me.
I also launched a discussion about a couple of websites that the Angelus Foundation has asked us to look at. The Angelus Foundation is in the process of launching a website to educate young people about legal highs and as part of this I encouraged the TheSite Leaders to contribute their thoughts on which website draft they thought was better.
Wednesday and Thursday
I spent these two days in the Partnerships team which was very different to what Engagement and Support does. Andy gave me an informative introduction to what Partnerships does and it was really interesting to see the way that Do-it runs and the way that YouthNet works with other like minded organisations.
I started my work in Partnerships by creating a sheet of statistics for the previous month for the upcoming Budget Report, including details such as number of registered volunteers and the number of do-it applications. Something which I found quite interesting is the rise in the number of applications in the past few months – maybe because of the Olympics?
Over the next couple of days I spent some time inputting feedback forms from the Vbase 3.0 training session. Vbase is a volunteering database which many Volunteer Centres use and they recently had a morning of training after the launch of version 3.0. It was really useful to see people’s opinions on the training session, with some people really pleased with the training apart from the traffic outside!
Something which I also carried out in Partnerships was finding out contact details of a number of charitable organisations, some of which could be potential partners for the future.
On Friday morning I rounded up the responses we had from volunteers about the Technology Together booklet. As mentioned before, it was useful to see contrasting opinions around the project and the information provided in the booklet and I produced a brief report of the overall response.
And now I am sitting here writing this blog on my last day. I have really enjoyed my week here. The staff here are so welcoming and friendly and the office has such a relaxed atmosphere. Through being given my own tasks to complete and being left to use my own initiative I have had a first hand experience of what Engagement and Support and Partnerships do at YouthNet, as well as a more all round experience of what goes on in the office. I will miss it here but I’m sure I will be back in the future for other Leader’s events!