Case Studies

Hannah Barstow

Hannah Barstow

Teesside University psychology student Hannah Barstow is combining volunteering with studying and she works towards her career.

BSc (Hons) Psychology student Hannah, 26, from Middlesbrough, first become involved in volunteering at a hospital where she was working with adults. Her volunteering work helped her to realise she wanted go down a different path.

Hannah, 26, is mum to a six-year-old son, said: 'I used to volunteer at hospital to help with my degree, because ultimately, I wanted to enter a career within a medical setting. It wasn't until I worked on a few cases that I realised I wanted to work more with children, so that's when I found Changing Futures North East and I pursued that route.'

Changing Futures North East is a Hartlepool-based charity which offers access to mediation services, mentoring to young people and children in care.

Hannah said: 'Changing Futures is amazing and they were really helpful during my application. Jess, who interviewed me, made me feel really comfortable. She took me through my compatibility test to try to find me a match with one of the many children they help there.'

Hannah was matched with a young woman and has been her independent visitor since she started at Changing Futures in February last year, when she was in the first year of her degrees studies. An independent visitor supports a child in foster care or similar circumstances over two years to establish a positive relationship.

'The most rewarding part of volunteering is influencing my young person. She's just turned 16 so she's looking at potential colleges and where she wants to take her life,' said Hannah.

I have helped her to find something she enjoys in psychology. She's also took an interest in hair and beauty. It's brilliant to motivate her and make her realise there are so many possibilities in life.

Hannah added that it is not all about mentoring as a friendship has developed between the two young women. 'We go on days out, she's a big foodie so she loves to go for a meal and sit and chat with me for hours on end. She also enjoys horse riding and has dragged me along a few times.'

She says it can be hard balancing her time with study and looking after her son, but Hannah added: 'The benefit of volunteering for me at the beginning was to help along my career, but now it's become much more rewarding. It has taught me to be selfless instead of selfish. It is really rewarding.