A year ago we announced 32 funding awards that we hoped would change the face of volunteering in England.
One year on, as part of #iwillWeek, we thought it a good time to check in on some of these projects so see what impact our funding and their work has made.
Of the 32 awards made, 16 were from our Potentials Fund, which is designed to help 10-20-year-olds get involved in volunteering.
#iwillWeek celebrates the best of young volunteers through their youth social action, so we’re going to focus on the 16 projects that received a total of more than £2.1 million between them.
Funded projects included Girlguiding North West England, who have provided Young Leader members with the skills to deliver training sessions to other members about the benefits of sport-related volunteering in their local community.
Football Beyond Borders were another to receive National Lottery funding to enable them to use football as an engagement tool to support young people from low income backgrounds to re-engage with learning.
While Oxford-based group Student Hubs were given their award to place 440 university students, with little or no volunteering experience, into youth social action opportunities.
With the announcement of two more projects earlier this week, we’re going to take a deeper look at a few of last year’s award recipients and hear from those at the heart of the action.
Leonard Cheshire Disability
Name of project: Can Do Sport
Location: Merseyside, London, Essex, Manchester and West Yorkshire
Leonard Cheshire Disability supports disabled people in the UK and around the world, helping them to fulfil their potential and live the lives they choose.
The Can Do Sport project has empowered young disabled people, aged 10-20, to be a catalyst for change in their local community through physical activity, social action and the teaching of new skills.
In the past year, students with learning disabilities and difficulties from Roots and Shoots College, London, took part in a sailing activity with Tideway Sailability.
The participants led an accessibility survey to promote sailing as a form of physical activity and were responsible for planning and implementing a community sail event.
At 20, Jannell Wilkie was one of the older participants and took more of a leader’s role.
“I am an outdoor person and like doing a lot of sports. As an intern at the college, I have been given leadership tasks. I want to help other people and to join in on new activities,” she said.
“It was helpful to get instruction on how to sail from the instructors. I felt more confident.
“I like working with different people. It was fun and a good experience. It would be good to have more sailing or other opportunities like this. I really enjoyed it and I’m sure others would too.”
While 17-year-old Edmond Nwamoh admitted it took a while before he found his sea legs.
“I was a bit nervous when I started because I have never done sailing before. I wanted to be more confident and I also wanted to work on my communication,” he said.
“The sailing instructors helped me, and it was interesting working with other Can Doers. I got more confident with practice and made some progress after each session.
“I would like to do more sailing in the future. If new Can Doers don’t know how to sail, they can observe me when I take them on the boat.”
British Blind Sport
Name of project: See My Voice
Location: Across England
British Blind Sport helps blind and partially sighted people get active and play sport.
The idea for the project was borne out of anecdotal research with many young visually impaired (VI) people saying to British Blind Sport that they felt frustrated and were often not ‘seen’ by people in authority, e.g. doctors or teachers, and felt that 'as they cannot see, others often do not hear them’.
They recruited a Young Leaders officer to drive their three-year programme ‘See My Voice’, which focuses on developing young (11-18 years) visually impaired people through a volunteering, mentoring and leadership programme.
The programme is empowering Young Leaders to volunteer in sporting roles, develop life skills, and enable them to share their opinions and experiences to shape the sporting landscape for VI people.
Northamptonshire’s Kian Saville is a VI swimmer with realistic ambitions to represent ParalympicsGB at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
However, he is also a Young Leader and has dedicated his time in 2018 to racking up 100 hours of volunteering – which has included qualifying as a timekeeper and also beginning his own para-swimming squad, with great success.
“I swim six times a week and am in the Swim England talent programme for Tokyo 2020 potentials, so I’m always training, but I wanted to see how I could help local communities a bit more through sport,” he said.
“I didn’t get much help when I first started out swimming because not a lot of people knew about the para side.
“But, experiencing it for myself, I can probably help people learn what to do if they are struggling.
“So I may only have one para-swimmer currently, who I’m helping to train, but they went to the Midlands regional gala recently, their first gala, and they won five gold medals.
“It was just amazing, with the smallest amount of help from me – passing on what I’ve learned from my own coaches – was a great experience and was great to give something back.
“I like to challenge people to their limits and if they come out fighting then you know something’s going well.”