Volunteers Week is all about celebrating the amazing contributions that volunteers make to organisations and to society as a whole. At the Jack Petchey Foundation, volunteering is something that we support and celebrate all year round through our various grants and schemes.
Over 2000 schools and clubs take part in our Achievement Award scheme, in which young people are nominated for an award for their accomplishments. Not only is the winner granted £250 to spend on their school or club, their achievements are celebrated at an awards ceremony in front of their friends, family and peers.
Whilst young people can be nominated for any number of reasons, we see countless award winners being recognised for their volunteer efforts. Just this year, we have seen young people win Achievement Awards for volunteering with special needs students at their sixth form, travelling to the Greek island of Lesbos to help refugees, and for volunteering as a phone counsellor and fundraiser for the mental health charity Young Minds. Through the award scheme their hard work as volunteers is celebrated and their stories inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
The Jack Petchey Foundation has also made volunteering an integral part of our Achievers Network programme. The programme gives 30 young people the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge through workshops and mentoring sessions. In order to graduate from the programme, the Achievers must also complete at least 10 hours of volunteering a month. Not only does this open them up to learning new skills and meeting new people, they are also making a positive difference in their communities. Last year, the Achievers Network completed an incredible 3650 hours of volunteering, an amazing feat!
Our Individual Grant for Volunteering (IGFV) provides young people with a grant of up to £400 to support them in their volunteer work in the UK or abroad. The young people we have funded have volunteered all over the world on a range of projects, from conservation to education, and medical placements to tag rugby programmes. Not only have they made incredible changes in the communities they have worked in, they opened themselves up to new challenges and new experiences. Mercedesz, an IGFV recipient who delivered female empowerment projects in Bangladesh said, “[the experience] has fuelled my interest to help others, no matter how small or big, every little change can contribute to make a difference.”
The Jack Petchey Foundation will continue to work hard to support and celebrate young people as volunteers, helping them to create a brighter future for themselves and their communities. As Sir Jack himself says “Volunteering is one of the most important things anyone can do. And anyone can! It’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and gain valuable experience. By helping others, you will also be helping yourself.”
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