Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s transformational programmes match young people with world-class athletes who act as mentors and role models, supporting them in the skills they need to achieve in education, work and life. Sometimes, all they need as a catalyst for change, is a different positive adult figure, outside of their home or school setting. We also work with our funders and partners to create opportunities for their workforce to engage with our young people, giving both parties a fresh perspective and bringing benefits for all concerned.

For the young people, it introduces them to more people with a story to share, or an occupation to aspire to. For the volunteers, it can be immensely rewarding to know that you have helped a young person or been the one to spark the lightbulb moment where they believe ‘I could do that’. For our funders and partners it is an opportunity for their workforce to engage at a local level, and to learn from and share their individual experiences of the charity partnership. During Volunteers Week 2022 we want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who have given their time to support young people who are facing disadvantage in their lives.

Research shows that the more interactions young people have with professionals, the more their life chances increase. Additionally, young adults who recalled ‘four or more employer contacts’ are five times less likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) than those who had no involvement.  The longer-term relationships with our athlete mentors is crucial for the success of our programmes but the short term impact volunteers can have can be huge..

As well as access to the skills, experiences, and high-performing mindset of athletes, through motivational engagement opportunities and employee wellness in the workplace; our partnership options help organisations and their individuals positively impact the local community through delivering our programmes in the area. Opportunities to volunteer during sessions has given our partner’s employees some unforgettable experiences – and our young people have enjoyed engaging with professionals and been able to utilise the skills they have learnt in these real-life settings.

As part of their Starting Blocks partnership with the Trust, Brooks Macdonald have funded two On Track to Achieve programmes, based in schools near their offices in Edinburgh and London. Michael, an accountant, visited the programme at Ark Greenwich school where the students are being mentored by Commonwealth Fencing champion Claire Bennett. Many of students and young people we work with might never have met an accountant before so would have little or no idea what they do or whether they might enjoy this as a career. It’s very hard to aspire to something you’re not aware of. Michael said:

I really enjoyed giving something back, and it really gave me a sense of what’s important in life – I feel I had a relatively safe and privileged upbringing and it’s easy to take that for granted. To be able to impart some life experience and to be able to answer some of the student’s questions was really rewarding - I really felt their confidence grow through the session.

If anyone else was thinking about volunteering, I would say don’t just think about it, but do it! It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a very long time, and great to put yourself outside of your comfort zone once in a while!

 

Nick, who also works at Brooks Macdonald and volunteered on the same programme added:

It was great to engage with young people on the issues that they face today, namely through Covid and the ever-changing technological landscape leading to new challenges through social media. Sport is a great medium through which many lessons are taught. It is also a universal language that all people from different backgrounds can share in.  Our athlete mentor, Claire, was fantastic at engaging with the young people and bringing the best out of them within a safe environment.

As part of a multi-year partnership, Starting Blocks Double Gold Partner Westfield Health are funding programmes in Sheffield, which launched in 2021 with a Young Leaders programme for 16-25 year olds, and ten On Track to Achieve programmes in schools in the Sheffield area. Hope from Westfield Health visited Parkwood Academy and helped as the students delivered a social action project to a local primary school:

Volunteering on the programme gave me a warm fuzzy feeling! It was lovely to see the athlete mentor in action; they were engaging and supportive, and then so proud and positive once the session was over. It was amazing to know that money that the company that I work for has donated actually goes directly into having a positive impact on young people’s lives and futures…

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Michael, Nick and Hope and indeed everyone who has volunteered their time with the Trust over the last twelve months. If you’d like to find out more about volunteering opportunities for your organisation, or to talk about partnership options, please drop us a line at [email protected]olmestrust.org