Havens Hospices have been running their Young Ambassadors Project (YAP) for 11-years and are looking for new teenagers to get involved as it enters its 12th where they can take on a variety of roles.
The charity, which cares for children, adults and young adults with life-limiting illnesses at their two hospices, in the community and at home has invited young people aged 16 -18 to volunteer since 2008. For ten years the Young Ambassadors primarily volunteered in the care areas of the charity, however, last year Havens Hospices started offering a greater variety of roles.
Over the years the support that these young people have given the charity has been vital and it has made a difference for patients and staff alike. Lizzie Ireland, Creative Therapist at Fair Havens Hospice explains “The Young Ambassadors help us in Day Hospice by getting involved with the creative therapy; chatting with the patients, helping get refreshments for the patients and helping them feel comfortable while they’re with us for the day. They are a huge help and they do help us continue ‘Making every day count’ for all our patients.”
Many of the young people who apply are aiming for a career in healthcare; however, Havens Hospices has diverse volunteering opportunities within other areas of the charity, giving young people across Essex a chance to gain skills and work experience in an industry or career that is of interest to them. These roles include – HR & Volunteer Services, Community Fundraising, Marketing, Retail and Trading. There are also more practical roles available like maintenance which could include working with electrics, carpentry and ensuring the hospices are running to government health and safety regulations.
Faye Kadesh, Volunteer Services Manager explains “We’ve always had fantastic feedback from the staff, patients, families and the Young Ambassadors about the project, but last year we wanted to open up more opportunities for more young people throughout the organisation. We’re excited that applications Young Ambassadors 2020 are now open and are hoping even more young people across Essex take their chance to shape the future of the charity.”
Ollie Turner, 18, was a Fair Haven’s Young Ambassador and originally chose to volunteer with the charity because his brother uses Little Havens Hospice. He says, “My role involved coming in and chatting with the patients – you can see just how much you can brighten up a patient’s day just by having a simple chat and a laugh. It seems to help everyone forget about what’s going on.
“I think my confidence developed quite a lot because of the project. When I first came in I was quite quiet and shy, but now I’m fine with just having a chat, I’ll introduce myself when there’s a new patient and make sure everyone is having a nice time. If anyone’s unsure of applying to be a Young Ambassador, I’d say just go for it. It’s such a great atmosphere here and everyone loves to see you.”
Grace Lamb, 18, was a Young Ambassador at Little Havens Hospice last year. Grace is hoping to pursue a career in medicine, she volunteered with the kitchen staff at Essex’s only children’s hospice on a Saturday. She said, “I liked volunteering here because I actually felt like I was doing something useful with my time – I’d come here on Saturday mornings, ten ’til two, and I wouldn’t be doing anything else in that time. I’d just be wasting my time just sitting around, but instead I could come to Little Havens and help the community and help people who need help.
“I feel like I’ve gained so much experience from being a Young Ambassador; the staff are really friendly, really welcoming, and always answered any questions I had. I never felt out of place or like I didn’t know what was going on or anything like that. I was always made to feel welcome. And actually, the skills I learnt throughout from the application and interview process to the kitchen skills I picked up at Little Havens gave me the confidence to apply for a part-time job; so I’d definitely encourage others to apply, because the experience and the confidence you’ll gain, while helping to make a difference, is amazing.”
Applications for Young Ambassadors 2020 are now open and close on 31st December 2019. To find out more about taking a ‘YAP Year’ please email Volunteer Services [firstname.lastname@example.org] or call 01702 426237 or click here [http://www.havenshospices.org.uk/youngambassadors].