Ursuline Links is a volunteer programme founded in 2010 by Ursuline Sisters to provide young people with volunteer opportunities both in the UK and abroad. They have been a part of the Jack Petchey Achievement Award scheme since 2015 and in 2016 they also received a Small Grant of £750 for their Young Leaders project. Read more about the project below.
Ursuline Links was initially created to provide volunteer opportunities for A-Level students, enabling them to work on service projects to help the disadvantaged, marginalised, lonely and elderly in the local community. In recent years, several of the young people who were involved wanted to continue to be part of these volunteer projects while they were at university. Ursuline Links therefore decided to set up a Youth Leader strand, to give them the opportunity to continue their involvement and also to act as role models for the younger volunteers.
The small grant provided professional leadership and team training sessions for the Youth Leaders and the student volunteers that would be working on the projects. The training sessions gave the two groups of young people the chance get to know each other and to plan together before the summer projects programme began.
One of the main projects that the Young Leaders volunteered on was the London Social Justice project. The Young Leaders worked as chaperones for the younger volunteers, guiding them on their volunteer work and enabling the week to run more smoothly, as they had taken part in the project before. Their work took place in various safe havens for homeless people around London and the volunteers helped in many ways; from preparing and serving food, to running the reception and playing bingo with the patrons.The Young Leaders also helped at a Holiday Week for the elderly at the Woodgrange Baptist Church and with a variety of people in Poplar community projects. The volunteers gained an enormous amount from all of their placements and learned a lot about life and themselves in the process.
Throughout the various projects, the Young Leaders were a source of support, guidance and inspiration for the younger members. The training sessions helped them to develop their leadership skills and prepared them for the logistics of the projects and other aspects such as safeguarding and child protection training.
The young members appreciated having their more experienced friends to guide them, with one volunteer commenting: “My Youth Leader was always making sure everyone was okay and made my service experience a lot better by having a kind and caring chaperone.” One Youth Leader wrote of her experience: “The projects influenced me and impacted on me more than I thought it would. I am inspired to carry on helping people in need. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help in my community”
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