Case Studies

Helen Robertson

I volunteer and work at The Trinity Youth and Children's Project. The project works with young people from a disadvantaged background aiming to foster emotional, social and cultural development.

I started volunteering during my degree in psychology and education to improve my skills and complement my studies. I arranged a meeting with the development worker at Trinity, where I felt comfortable and welcomed.

I now work for the project and a typical day includes visiting a local school to engage with the students and encourage the young people to attend the session. I work with small groups at the school and do assemblies, and arts and crafts, team games, group discussions and stories.

My main areas of development include the ability to engage with young people effectively, knowledge of how to physically run a session and also essential skills in team work and communication with professionals. Above all this, I grew in confidence and feel I could not have developed these skills through studying alone, it is something you must experience first-hand.

Seeing young people grow in confidence and self-esteem is so exciting. I have had the opportunity to work with like-minded volunteers and all the activities are fun and indulge your inner child.

I hope to progress to a master's degree in the future so my priority is to gain further relevant experience. I still hope to work within psychology and with young people.

During my time at Teesside I met with a careers adviser who enabled me to assess exactly what I wanted from a career. As a result I am now pursuing a different path in psychology. I will always be grateful for this. I also completed a placement within my course as a mentor to students in a secondary school. This work enabled me to secure a job at Teesside University working as a student mentor. My work at Trinity also contributed to this.

I have also assisted in a raising aspirations project at a local school. With another student I was given the opportunity to plan and develop a workshop and activities for the pupils. This gave me experience of working with small groups to contrast with one-to-one mentoring and the large groups at Trinity.

As a volunteer I would suggest you ask for feedback whenever you can. Manage and vary the work you do as much as possible to develop a range of skills. Choose something you really feel you will enjoy. See it as a commitment and ensure you are always reliable as you will receive a glowing reference. I also think you should make positive links with the other volunteers or professionals. You can work and develop together. It can also provide you with a sense of community.