In Funding Stories, Strengthening community cohesion

Project: Beams – a youth volunteering project
Grant: £5,000
Fund: #iwill

Run by Aylesbury Youth Action (AYA), the aim of Beams is to support partner organisations by involving young volunteers in the delivery of their service to the most disadvantaged and deprived children.

This grant has enabled 180 young people to volunteer for 601 hours across five different community organisations and projects, which in turn has enabled disadvantaged children, young people and families to access food, activities and independence.

Feedback from volunteers included:

‘I think many people believe that volunteering is a waste of time, but if they saw the benefits they might be persuaded to get involved. Not only do I feel as though I’m making a difference, but I’ve also grown in confidence. Voluntary work can equip people with skills for life, but also make them more employable too.’

‘I like volunteering as it lets me get out and do things I wouldn’t usually do and opens up new opportunities for me. I’ve learnt team work and time management skills as well as being able to increase my confidence with meeting new people.’

‘It’s given me the opportunity to learn loads of new skills and meet new people! It was something fun and worthwhile to do after school and my confidence and sense of involvement in my community massively increased because of it. It’s also given me lots of stories to tell in interviews and lots of varied experiences to put on my CV. I’ve learned a lot of practical skills from volunteering, ranging from face painting to pitching a gazebo to public speaking. I’ve also learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of: I’ve achieved things through volunteering that I never would have thought possible a few years ago.’

The funding has been used to assist with various community projects within Aylesbury by enabling young people to support as volunteers. The organisations included Women’s Aid via an after school club, and the Vineyard Church and their Tasty Tea and Make Lunch projects; where disadvantaged families are able to access healthy meals, whilst AYA run play activities for the children. The funding also helped to facilitate Young Carer’s on their club nights, giving them much-needed extra support and assistance.

AYA also supported Action for Children with their holiday projects at Thomley Centre and Green Park, where children with additional needs can access a variety of different activities, such as a wheelchair obstacle course and archery. The funding enabled them to ensure their youth volunteers are properly inducted and supported throughout their volunteer journey, giving them the skills to plan and lead different play activities.