Youth Zone at Home: OnSide's response to Covid-19
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At the heart of every Youth Zone are the volunteers. Those individuals who give their time and generously share their skills, knowledge and experiences with young people. Volunteers at Legacy Youth Zone in Croydon support in a number of different ways. Since opening in September 2019, we have had 50 volunteers engaging and encouraging young people to get involved in activities, to supporting on reception and being the friendly face that welcomes young people into the building. Volunteers help to inspire young people, and contribute to making the Youth Zone a safe and inviting space for them to come to.
It’s been a particularly challenging year, so for Volunteers’ Week 2021, it’s only fitting that the theme is around taking a moment to thank all the brilliant volunteers who have supported during the pandemic. Having volunteers who are committed to giving up their free time has such a positive impact on young people. It really shows that their community cares for them and wants to see them thrive. Our volunteers have a diverse range of skills and life experiences. Being able to have a conversation with a volunteer about how they got to where they are today can offer young people an insight into the variety of opportunities that are out there, and guidelines on how to get there.
We’ve found that people volunteer for a number of reasons. Some are looking for experience to change careers, some are coming out of college or university and need that all-important hands-on youth work experience. Others are keen to give back to their local communities where they themselves have grown up or have seen the issues that have arisen for young people. Whatever their reason for walking through the door, one thing that’s universal is the incredible feeling of fulfilment they get from making a different in the lives of young people.
Covid caused a temporary halt to volunteering at Legacy, as we had to reduce numbers in the building. We’ve therefore been especially grateful to every single volunteer who has supported in many different ways over the past 18 months. We were lucky to have keen volunteers that offered to support virtually and in person. From distributing food parcels to the local community, to returning on session when restrictions allowed. Volunteers have played a key role during the pandemic, and their commitment has been inspiring. As Covid restrictions continue to lift, their support will be integral in ensuring young people are offered the care and guidance they need. For now, we thank our volunteers for their hard work, and for helping so many during a difficult year.