Before I started volunteering, I didn't do anything at all, just watched TV at home, went out with my friends and that was it. Now I just feel a lot better. When I'm coming down to help the team on Mondays, I always feel so happy - everyone is smiling, there is such a warm atmosphere.
Trying new things
My role as a volunteer has given me more opportunities to try out new things. I think it's a great way to get out of your routine, to explore different activities. You never know what you'll end up enjoying. For example I've learned how to build planters. I didn't know anything about this but then found out I really liked it. They look great on the canal and are brilliant when we start growing flowers and vegetables in them, the public love them.
Physically, it's kept me active, without even realizing it. So it's like going to the gym, but without the effort. It just comes naturally. And because my role is flexible, it's really easy to fit into my life.
Volunteering has also made me more confident. I was recently asked to do a presentation for the Trust's Blazing a Trail conference on volunteering in October, which was attended by 200 people. I had never attempted public speaking for such a large audience before. And because I have dyslexia, it's difficult for me to read from notes. But my manager, Vicki, was awesome. She helped me to prepare, and on the day I just stood up on the stage and shared my experience of being a young volunteer. Everyone enjoyed it, and people were clapping, said thank you. It felt amazing. I would definitely do it again.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a carer and a football coach. Thanks to volunteering with the Trust, I started to work on a project with an organisation called One Vision, delivering activities for people with disabilities. Now I am a supporter worker with them, and we've actually started organising football tournaments - so I get to do the two jobs I always dreamed of doing. This would never have happened if I hadn't been volunteering with the Trust.
My advice would be, just try it - even if you don't like something, just keep going. I remember on my first day it was pouring down with rain, but we didn't stop, it didn't put us off - and then when the sun finally came out, it was great. There are so many activities to choose from, so you can always learn something new. And it's great to be able to see the impact you've had.