I know that compared to a lot of people I’m incredibly lucky, but there have been some difficult times in my family life. It was at its most complicated when I started secondary school at Bosworth Academy and needed to occupy all my time to take my mind off things.
My teacher asked if I’d like to volunteer at the Under 17’s Girls Football Championships, and that is where it all started as I realised I get a real kick out of helping people.
After the Championships I went on to volunteer in a wide range of sporting activities from officiating at Level 1 and Level 2 School Games - at my school and helping with intra-school games – through to leading a project for girls at school who weren’t engaged in PE.
I’m not a natural sports person, but knowing how exercise gives me an outlet I found it sad to hear of a group of year 11 girls who were always trying to get out of PE and were totally disengaged. My form tutor asked me to help and I jumped at the chance.
It was slightly daunting when I first went along to try to help, but it was amazing and we just clicked. I listened to the group and let them choose the ideas of the types of activities they wanted to do.
Lots of the girls had some difficult emotional problems and found social situations difficult, so I think they appreciated having someone to listen. The progression of the girls from being inactive to active has been amazing – they now want to participate in my lessons and have realised the benefits of exercise and want to use it.
Maybe it’s precisely because I’m not naturally sporty, and I could empathise with the girls, that helped the group work so well.
I do juggle rather a lot, with school work and working in a restaurant, but volunteering gives me an outlet as I enjoy it so much it is a stress release in itself, after which I can go back to my academic work, refocus, and carry on.