Madeline Hayes volunteers for Leonard Cheshire in Scotland

I STARTED volunteering three years ago when I was 11 years old. When I first got the opportunity to volunteer I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to get as much out of it as I do. I have personally gained more confidence, learned a whole range of new skills and realised in the process that everyone has something to give.

I currently volunteer at Cheshire House in Inverness, a day service unit and supported living service for disabled people. I go in whenever I can and enjoy making videos with special effects and songs, all chosen by the service users. I hope they have enjoyed online creativity as much as I have.

I try to introduce them to a variety of online skills you can use to have fun. We have made loads of completely different and great videos – my favourite is the one we made to the song Best Day of My Life. The idea of this video was to give a flavour of the great activities that run at the service daily. It was also so much fun filming all staff and service users demonstrating hobbies such as board games, roaming around the community and doing sports.

Volunteering has been an amazing part of my life and I can see myself continuing to do it in the future. I would highly recommend it to any young person who maybe hasn’t considered the idea, because I have gained so much from it.

I would especially recommend volunteering to anyone looking to get a better insight into a variety of people’s lives or trying to open up new doors of their own. Volunteers everywhere are really appreciated and it is lovely to feel so welcomed and valued. A lot of this was made possible by the amazing Jill Murray, Leonard Cheshire in Scotland’s Volunteer Coordinator, who has supported me and been a great role model throughout my journey.

This opportunity to volunteer has allowed me to discover my passion for psychology, which I hope to go on to study at school next year then become a psychologist when I am older.

I am incredibly thankful for everything I have been able to achieve through the volunteering system at Leonard Cheshire in Scotland and everyone else who has helped me along the way. I cannot express enough how much I have enjoyed it all and how much I recommend it. It can really help you find yourself and help you discover more potential in yourself than you would ever have thought you had.

My favourite part of my volunteering journey has been the wonderful people I have met along the way, and I am so glad I was able to support them all. I really hope that I can inspire other young people to give up small amounts of their time to make a big difference.

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