Why I VolunteerPosted on October 22, 2019
When writing this blog, Rachael Ann Hatfield was 19 years old. Rachael is from Inverness and tells us in her own words, why she loves volunteering. We know Rachael through her participation in the Youth Volunteering & Innovation Project.
As someone who wasn’t predicted to go very far after school, I struggled to fit in with my peers and never really had much sense of achievement in the things I did. That all changed when I started volunteering at my local Youth Forum. It was the first time I’d really found my voice and it was the first time I felt like I was getting recognition for being part of something.
Through my time as a volunteer I have achieved so much. I’ve represented 7 Youth Forums in my area at the Highland Youth Parliament and my volunteering has even sent me down to London. Aged 17, I lead a project to get young people to the Scottish Parliament to meet then, newly elected, Maree Todd MSP. I was in charge of arranging travel and the overall visit and it was the first time I’d been shown that other people had faith in me. Needless to say it was a successful trip.
I was signed up for the Saltire Awards to recognise the time I was giving up to be part of the forum. Since then I’ve gone on to achieve the 500 hours certificate. Recognition in volunteering doesn’t always need to be huge awards nights, but schemes such as the Saltire Awards really made a difference to me, as at every milestone, I was reminded that I achieved so much over that period of time.
More recently, I’ve been part of a force for change relating to volunteering in Scotland. This has been through YouthVIP, or for its long title, the Youth Volunteering and Innovation Project. We are a group of 25 young people from all over the country creating recommendations about how youth volunteering should look by 2028.
The YouthVIP National Discussion Day took place on Wednesday 27th March, where we launched our report with 13 recommendations to help shape the future of youth volunteering in Scotland. The event was an incredible way to showcase the work Youth VIP have carried out over the last 8 months. On the day we took the lead with the whole thing, from hosting to taking over partnership organisations social media feeds to cover the event online – we were even trending on Twitter – #YouthVIP!
For me, one key recommendation in our report is to create a framework to support young people. Not in education, employment or training but to support them in gaining personal and work based skills in a volunteering capacity. This is because I can directly relate to some of the struggles that come with having issues in school or from not being academically minded. It is crucial that these young people are given the opportunity to thrive in environments where they can feel and be, who they want to be.
Last year I was part of the judging panel for the local Saltire Summit Awards. This gave me the chance to see how other young people, right on my doorstep are doing some pretty amazing things that overwise may have gone under the radar. Sitting in on that awards ceremony reminded me that it’s often the little things that can make the biggest change, even if it is just having one person to believe in you. And that, in short is why I love volunteering, and why I won’t be stopping any time soon!