Volunteer Week & My Social Action Story (How this blog came about!)

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

I have literally just got back from my monthly Youth Council meeting which went brilliantly, we are really starting to make progress with our projects and it looks like I'm in for a busy month! I am meeting with the Children's Safeguarding Board for my area to push forward gender equality and anti bullying campaigns as well as attending the Transport Forum to present the Fixers project I'm doing (that I talked about here and here) on public transport! There is also a chance that I will be travelling to London on the 17th of June for the mass lobby of parliament for climate change which if I find a way to get there (need to convince my school that we should all get the train up as part of my Overcoming Injustice group!) will be an incredible opportunity!

Anyway today I want to talk about how I got involved in social action and volunteering in honour of the fact that it's national Volunteer Week. I hope my story (not that it's a particularly exciting one :))  will maybe help to show you that no matter who you are you can help to make the world a nicer place.

I've been involved in social action for about 3 years and volunteering for about 1, and I can honestly say that I'm not the same person I am now as I was when I started to be involved in helping others.
It all started when I decided to join my school's active Student Council around three years back, helping to get students passionate about making the world a better place. However before long I realised that I could take the skills I'd been using inside school outside of school and into the real world.

I first realised this when in June 2013 I was picked to represent my school by travelling to no 10 Downing Street with the 'IF Campaign' which is a campaign for ending global hunger. On that day I saw so many like minded young people who were helping to change their communities for the better and I knew that I wanted to help do that too! It was also an incredible experience to be able to sit in a question and answer session with the Prime Minister and hear from his own mouth what the UK's place in ending world hunger is.

Looking back that day I felt as if I was a part of something really special, I saw with the own eyes the effects of what my actions at school were on others through meeting the campaign leaders and talking to them about how ordinary people like me could make a difference. From that day forward I vowed to get more involved in social action, and in the last three years that journey has taken me from WeDay to starting a campaigning group at my school to taking part in international campaigns like 'WE ARE SILENT' and even more!

Through being involved in social action I have gained so much. I used to be so so so shy but getting involved has helped me to find my voice and has given me the courage to stand in front of hundreds of people to give speeches. It's this confidence that also led me to start volunteering in my spare time!

The main volunteering I do is through being involved in my local youth council where I help to represent all the young people in my area through helping to influence decision makers when they are making choices that effect the lives of young people. It's also our job to attend lot's of meetings, events and start our own projects and campaigns. When groups and organisations want young people's opinions on something (e.g. I'm currently working with the NHS to help them with their clinical commissioning review of young people) they often come to us too. However apart from this I'm also known to hang out at regular charity events and fundraisers (bake sales are a favourite of mine ;) *wistfully thinks about cake*).

As it's volunteer week this week my challenge for you is to either say a huge thank you to someone in your life who volunteers as I'm sure what they're doing is amazing or to get out there yourself and try some volunteering! I promise you it's so rewarding and you will meet so many incredible and inspiring people. The people I meet through being involved in social action and volunteering is probably my favourite part (alongside actually seeing what difference you are making of course!).

And all that is kind of how this blog came about too, earlier this year I wanted to start sharing my experiences of social action with other young people and possibly help to encourage some people to get involved, even if it's only in a small way. I hope you guys liked that slightly different post and that you are all having an awesome day!

Sarah xx

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