Foundations & other organisations
It’s good to see that it’s not only the 14-25-year-olds who believe in giving back to the community (see yesterday’s post). As the picture above shows, community volunteers are starting young.
I’ve posted a few blogs recently about our local Community Garden, here in Port Talbot, South Wales (UK), so I was interested to read about another voluntary group in Storrington, West Sussex (UK) – Storrington in Bloom – run by the village florist, Jo Cragg, and sponsored by her local garden centre. As Silver Medal winners for last year’s Village in Bloom competition, the group has been busy over the last few weekends, clearing and planting ready for this year’s entry. And last week, among the volunteers of all ages was young Freddie (pictured).
Just shows… you’re never too young to start: let’s keep encouraging the young folk to volunteer!
Some encouraging news from Ireland… the Think Big organisation’s latest survey of 14-25-year-olds shows that there is a flourishing community spirit there. More than 75% of this age group prefer to live where they know their neighbours by name, and 64% believe in giving back to the community.
Think Big is a collaboration between O2 and Headstrong (the National Centre for Youth Mental Health), which aims to make a difference to young people’s mental health by inspiring them to get involved in community projects, using passions such as music, cooking, film, photography and technology. Since it started in 2010 it has funded more than 300 projects.
Interestingly, when the young people were asked to name someone who had inspired them, almost a quarter gave Barack Obama as their first choice – however, more than one third nominated their parents as their biggest role models. Headstrong says that it’s really key for a young person’s mental well-being to have at least “one good adult” in their lives… something that we at the Chreda Foundation agree with, wholeheartedly.
Join the British Red Cross in celebrating the extraordinary things that ordinary young people do in the UK every day to help others in their communities: nominate a young person aged 25 or under for the charity’s annual Humanitarian Citizen Awards. You have until the 14th of July to vote HERE for those groups or individuals you feel selflessly make a difference to the lives of others in their community, through:
- First aid (“young first aid heroes who have stepped forward to help when needed, performing life-saving acts or responding to small-scale incidents”);
- Volunteering (“young people who give up their own time to help others, in whatever capacity”);
- Community action (“young people – or groups – who make a positive contribution in the community”); or
- Fundraising (“do you know anyone who’s been using their imagination and energy to raise money for a good cause?”).
The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 5th October 2013.
Having recently completed the ASIST course (suicide first aid) I am acutely aware of the high incidence of suicide here in the UK, as in other countries. I am also conscious of the impact that it can have on families and friends. Many of us personally know people who have been affected in this way.
So it was particularly timely to read today of a nine-year-old from Southend, Essex (UK) who – two years on from his father’s suicide – has only just managed to come to terms with the loss, and has now begun a fundraising bid in his memory.
Ben Gotts suffered from severe depression, and despite having a deep bond with his young son Mason, took his own life in 2011, shortly after being released from a mental health unit. Mason and his mother Lisa were devastated by the tragedy, and it is only very recently that the young lad has felt able to visit his father’s grave. On doing so, he was disappointed to see that it was marked simply by a small plastic sign, whereas all the surrounding graves had headstones. He made up his mind to rectify this, and is planning to raise £1000 for “a big black headstone” with the inscription “Thank you for being my daddy. I love you loads.”
So he will be undertaking a 12-mile beach fundraising walk this month, from Shoeburyness to Chalkwell (and back), on what would have been his father’s 41st birthday. A touching tribute, and one which definitely deserves support. To sponsor Mason, call Lisa (07453 323410) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any excess funds raised will be donated to Southend Mind.
And while we are on the subject of suicide… if you ever get the chance to take the ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), I would highly recommend it. One day you might come across someone contemplating suicide, and you could perhaps be instrumental in saving their life, if you have been suitably trained. Check out LivingWorks’ main (Canadian) website at www.livingworks.net for further details.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will be aware that where I live in Port Talbot we have been creating a community garden, in memory of lives lost at the nearby steel works. Yesterday we were joined for an hour by several members of Swansea’s rugby team, the Ospreys, to shift several tons of topsoil, in order that planting could finally begin. As the work proceeded, the subject of youth volunteering came up, and how – despite the negative press that young people so often get – there are many around the country who are doing a fantastic job of supporting their local communities.
And as if further evidence was needed that youth volunteering is alive and well, here in this part of the UK, I read today about an excellent initiative organised in North Wales, over Easter, by Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) – part of Bangor University Students’ Union. Eighteen students from the University, joined by two from Aberystwyth University, spent a week living and working at the Felin Uchaf social enterprise near Aberdaron, on the Lleyn Peninsula, where they helped erect a new timber-framed building, destined to house a library, archive and visitor centre. They also participated in land-management tasks such as willow coppicing, dry stone walling and planting, as well as traditional cooking.
For the last nine years the Felin Uchaf charity has been renovating a traditional Welsh farmhouse and its surrounding lands into a community enterprise and visitor centre, where they explore and promote green business initiatives and rural enterprises, and other ways of living in harmony with the environment.
This was the first such event organised by SVB, which was encouraged by the warm welcome the volunteers received at Felin Uchaf, and the team-working experience that the project gave the students, who came from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. It’s always great to hear such examples of how young people are helping to create a harmonious and sustainable future for society, and especially here in Wales. Well done, SVB!
And of course… many thanks to the Ospreys team members for their hard work at the garden, yesterday, despite the slightly adverse weather!