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!
This blog has highlighted on several occasions the impact that sport can have on young people’s development, so I was interested to hear recently of an initiative in the South-West (of the UK) called Community Action Through Sport (CATS), which was set up in Bude, North Cornwall, eight years ago, to encourage youth involvement in the community by rewarding participants with opportunities to experience new sporting activities, as well as other “healthy living rewards”.
Created initially in response to a local anti-social behaviour problem, the CATS initiative now involves school, youth group, sports and police representatives, as well as the young people themselves, and sets out to improve the latter’s image in the area. CATS branches have already been established across Devon and Cornwall, touching the lives of hundreds of young people, and the securing of additional (Big Lottery & Lloyds TSB) funding means that the programme will now be rolled out across the rest of the UK.
There are five levels of CATS awards, and levels 3-5 are designed to dovetail with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Rewards range from a leisure swim with a friend (Level 1) to an ‘extreme sports’ weekend (Level 5). Sports and other celebrities are usually involved in the award ceremonies.
Although we have seen a number of schemes that use sport to encourage youth volunteering and leadership development, this is the first I have come across that actually uses sporting incentives as prizes – an interesting idea. CATS says, “Volunteering is the Inspiration, Recognition is the key, and Sport is the driving force.”
I don’t often do this… but I received an email today, requesting help with publicity for a charity event coming up in a few weeks, here in the UK, and I thought I’d share it with you on Generosity News, even though it’s not actually about young people. It may be that some of you will be willing to take the very simple step requested below, in order to give this nevertheless very worthy cause a bit of a boost over the next day or two.
The email, from Ed Lester, of The Abundance Index, was headed: “Let’s make something magic happen!” Here’s what it said:
I really need your help with something.
I just had a visit from my mother. Apparently my only sister is VERY cross with me.
The reason for this?
Well my sister’s one of six nurses in the UK who are taking part in a sponsored bike ride.
174 miles across The Hadrian Cycleway–some tough terrain. All of this for a worthy charity…The Rosemere Cancer Foundation.
They’ve put together a Facebook page, a website and everything.
My sister, needless to say, is deeply hurt that I haven’t been in and “liked” her FB page.
Only problem is, nobody told me she was even taking part in this event. I didn’t know till 5 minutes ago!
Once I found out, I rushed straight into my Facebook account and clicked the like button on her page.
But do you know what I found sad?
Such a noble and extreme effort these amazing nurses are making and they only have 15 likes on their page
So I figured together we can put that to rights!
Would you mind very much, going to this page on Facebook and clicking like?
I think together we can get this number way higher. Maybe even 1000 likes over the next few hours.
The great thing about this…
My sister along with everyone else in the UK is currently sleeping through the night and will be unlikely to be awake for a few hours yet.
Imagine her face lighting up (should she indeed see her FB likes counter go up to 1000 or more)!
Please pull out all the stops to help me make this happen.
The guys will be delighted, and I’ll be back in the family good books too!
It’s greatly appreciated I can assure you
Have a wonderful day!
The Abundance Index
PS If you want to further support Claire’s efforts and The Rosemere Cancer Foundation, there’s a link from their FB page to the actual website where you can find out more and even make a small donation.
Shrievalty Award recipients with High Sheriff Harry Vane, at Durham Castle
At an annual award ceremony in Durham (UK) last week 21 young people were recognised for what the Northern Echo newspaper described as “courageous, selfless and community-spirited actions”. These were the recipients of the Shrievalty Awards, which were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of County Durham, the Honorable Harry Vane, in the Great Hall of Durham Castle. Individuals and groups were among the award winners, many of whom had “overcome adversity” in order to benefit others within their local communities.
One group of youngsters was responsible for reducing crime on their housing estate – 16-year-old Charnie Lamport, her 12-year-old brother Joshua, and their cousin Callum, also aged 12, came forward as witnesses in a case involving anti-social behaviour of youths, just prior to Guy Fawkes Night, last November. As a result, the perpetrators were arrested and charged with the offences, with the result that the disorder issues on the estate have now been virtually eliminated.
Another group recognised at the event was Darlington’s ‘Signing Stars’, represented on this occasion by three of its members – Hope Harvey, Jodie Fyfe and Elaine White. Signing Stars is a sign language choir from Humersknott Academy, which performs choreographed signing and singing for pensioners’ tea parties and raises money for children’s treatment charities at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
A 17-year-old – Lauren Read – was one of the individual award winners. A sporting enthusiast from Teesdale, she has given more than 700 hours of her own time, inspiring and supporting other young sportsmen and women in Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland.
VIPs present to encourage and support the award recipients included four former High Sheriffs; the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon; four Chief Constables (two of whom are currently serving); and three Mayors.
Last week two teens from Grantham, South Kesteven (Lincolnshire, UK) were recognised for their coaching and volunteering work in the sport of badminton.
Photo (L-R): Laura Graves, Badminton England player of the year Chris Adcock, and Tracey Lamb.
Laura Graves and Tracey Lamb were named Young Coach of the Year and Young Volunteer of the Year, respectively, at the National Badminton Awards on Friday 15 March, at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.
Laura qualified as a Level One coach just under a year ago, and gives weekly badminton sessions at her school, KGGS, where she is the appointed student badminton officer, as well as running BISI festivals for primary schoolchildren and coaches at South Kesteven Badminton Academy. In addition, she coaches at junior holiday camps, helps organise a weekly pay and play adult session, and is involved with the sports charity Inspire+.
Tracey is also involved with the Inspire+ student leadership programme, through which she has organised a training session for 250 young ambassadors and delivered a presentation to Lord Coe. She is also joint organiser (and a lead presenter) of the East Midlands Young Leaders Camp, which is now in its third year, and is a member of the Youth Sport Trust Ambassador National Steering Group.