A young woman and her friends from Antrim, Northern Ireland, want to highlight the benefits of volunteering in their local community.
Paige Sheerin, 18, has seen first-hand how volunteering can develop confidence and new skills and help bridge gaps in the community between younger and older people.
With a group of friends she made a film to encourage others to give up some time to help people in their community and gain new skills and experiences at the same time.
‘There are lots of ways you can give a little time to make the world a better place, and the opportunities for volunteering may be closer than you think,’ she said.
The film shows how opportunities for helping are often right on your doorstep. For example young people can help the elderly in local hospitals, assist a blind person using a mobile phone app or even help others further afield by volunteering for a charity shop or fundraising for a disaster relief.
Paige and her team of Fixers also wants to show how volunteering can help young people develop important new skills and experiences that can enhance their own lives, as well as creating new connections between diverse members of the local community.
Michael, 19, has Asperger’s and lives in Randalstown, Co Antrim. He worked in a local charity shop in the school holidays to get away from the PC screen and TV and do something more productive in his local community.
He said: ‘Volunteering gave me daily interaction with the public and other volunteers which helped my social skills and confidence to grow. My Asperger's causes me issues when socialising with people, particularly strangers and volunteering has definitely helped me feel more confident in my social interactions.’
The charity Volunteer Now points out that volunteering ‘enables people to connect to each other and their communities, helping to build democratic, healthy and self-sustaining communities’.
According to the social action campaign ‘iWill’ supported by HRH the Prince of Wales, there are currently, 4 out of 10 young people aged between 10 and 20 involved in social action in the UK, but almost double this number would like to take part.
However, young people from less affluent communities can experience barriers to their ability to get involved, and Paige hopes her film will show the different ways they can access volunteering and break down some of those barriers.
The film was first shown at Belfast Castle to an invited audience of stakeholders from the community and received some very positive feedback. Viewers praised it for showing the variety of volunteering options available and how effective it was in encouraging young people to engage in volunteer work.
One viewer said: ‘It has given me lots of ideas for different ways to volunteer in my local community - I’m definitely going to be showing it to other people.’
Paige feels her Fixer project has really helped young people in her local community to see the benefits of volunteering, for themselves and for other people.
‘Volunteer – you might just change the world and it’s a great way to pick up new skills and experiences.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.