Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media. 

Karina Enrile, University of Nottingham, Student Volunteer:

I have been given the great opportunity of volunteering weekly in a local Primary school in Nottingham. Every week, myself and a group of fellow volunteers run after-school sessions, often ran like P.E lessons. What we do that’s different, however, is we tailor our sessions around developing certain skills that the children can take with them into secondary schools and later life.

For example, we focus our activities on building team working skills, leadership skills and communication skills. We encourage the children to mix with their peers and to step outside their comfort zones. Each week has a specific aim, my personal favourite being that of reflection; where we ask the children what they think went wrong, right and how we can improve. The children, through fun and engaging activities, learn how to manage their emotions and use their initiatives in tasks. They also learn about personal responsibility and through each activity we implement this skill. These are all skills which are transferable as they prepare for the big change that is moving into Secondary school. In this way, we help to make the change easier, less daunting and make the children more confident in themselves.

This experience not only benefits the children, but also greatly benefits volunteers like me. Personally, volunteering weekly with such great children gives me an energy and happiness boost, every single week. Their experience is completely relatable to us, as we all remember what it was like to go to secondary school and so there is a willingness to help the children make this transition as smoothly as possible.

There is also a third benefit – the benefit to the community. The project involves young adults from the community coming together to create a fun and kind space for younger students of the community, where a trusted relationship is built. Through bringing out the confidence in each young individual we can see a strong community development, one in which works together for all. The next step is working with the children on social action – community projects such as rubbish picking, or reaching out to your neighbours are some of the projects that have been proposed by schools, and so the future is looking bright.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is a charity that was established in 2000. Their project is using sport to support 540 10-14-year-olds from disadvantaged areas of Nottingham to build life skills, create and deliver social action projects and support their transition from primary to secondary school. Working with University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent students, the project has seen these volunteers go out into schools in underprivileged areas of the city, mentoring and using sport and physical activity.  Young people, both school-aged pupils and Volunteer Leaders, are being given a voice and the opportunity to create projects that are benefitting their community through their own actions.