Tom Woollin is a Kidscape's School and Community Volunteer. We asked him what it's like to volunteer for Kidscape.
Are you enjoying being a volunteer for Kidscape?
I would absolutely recommend volunteering with Kidscape. It felt a bit daunting in the beginning, as other Kidscape volunteers already had experience working for charities through their job where they’d been supporting young people, and I had absolutely no experience. It turns out I had nothing to worry about, as the support from the Kidscape team enabled me to throw myself into volunteering, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The flexibility of volunteering for Kidscape is great as it fits in around my work.
What's your favourite memory from volunteering for Kidscape?
I have had two favourite moments volunteering for Kidscape. Firstly, I was unsure how well the young people would open up to talking about their feelings, emotions and bullying, as when I was in school, it wasn’t something we ever spoke about openly. On my first ZAP session, just seeing the children gradually grow in confidence, going from having microphones/cameras turned off to having them on and opening up by the end, was so fulfilling.
Another favourite moment was being nominated by Ashley for an award for volunteering. I didn’t get into volunteering for any personal benefit whatsoever; in fact, it was because I wanted to do something completely selfless, but being recognised for the efforts I had made and the positive effects I have hopefully brought to the lives of the children felt amazing. I was rewarded a stay at a hotel and used it to take my daughter to Peppa Pig World, which I can safely say was the best day of her life so far!
Why did you choose Kidscape, and why should others considering volunteering give their time to Kidscape?
In all honesty, it was a New Year’s Resolution a couple of years ago. I wanted to do something that was completely selfless, and that I didn’t benefit from. The thought of children being bullied has always made me feel terrible, and I wanted to try and give them a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and tell them that school can be brutal, and life isn’t always going to be so hard. When you grow up and can choose your friends, choose the situations you put yourself in, and just be more experienced, it does get better and more enjoyable.
The thought of children being bullied has always made me feel terrible, and I wanted to try and give them a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and tell them that school can be brutal, and life isn’t always going to be so hard
I searched online for charities that support this, and Kidscape were the only one that appealed to me. I’m a massive believer in the overall message that Kidscape spread, but I especially liked certain aspects such as approaching ‘scary’ situations by just ‘faking’ (for want of a better word) confidence, puffing out your chest, holding your head high, having phrases that you say to yourself before entering these situations to get your confidence up. I do a job where I have to be very confident every day to get the best out of myself and my staff, and I do this every morning, so I know that it works. I think that schools are great for education, but not for these vital life skills that so many young people need – I wish someone had taught me when I was younger, as I have had to learn through trial and error over the years.
Anyone considering volunteering, just do it. Kidscape are extremely flexible with fitting around your work, and it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Seeing the difference you can make to these young people is so fulfilling.
I just want to add that Kidscape's Head of Programmes, Training and Volunteering Ashley is amazing, and it’s inspirational to see how good he is at his job. Any time I have done a session with him, I’ve just wanted to do loads more immediately afterwards!
Interested in volunteering for Kidscape? Find out more here!