At Kerry Volunteer Centre we often get asked ‘Can I volunteer if I am under 18?’ While some opportunities will be restricted to you as a minor, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any ways for you to get involved, Jude's story testifies to this!
Jude is 15 years old and is currently studying for his Junior Cert and started volunteering at the age of 12. He is actively volunteering with the support of the Volunteer Centre's Placemnet Team ( Linda, Terry and Siobhan) and regrets not starting younger. ‘I had a misconception that you can only volunteer from maybe 16 or 18, however, I’ve realise now there are so many youth-based volunteering opportunities.’ Jude first started volunteering with Adapt Charity shop, he enjoyed this experience as he was exposed to stock taking, working on the tills, team work, meeting new people and built upon his communication skills, which in turn, enhanced his own confidence.
Through volunteering Jude also feels that he has matured as a person ‘Sera Husky, was a great opportunity for me, it embraces an open-door policy and the staff members supported me in my role and I learnt a lot about animal behaviour and animal welfare…I even got trained on how to handle bird wildlife such as hawks and pigeons and feeding seals’.
Currently Jude volunteers with Order of Malta, which is a major provider of first-aid services and training, ambulance transport and community and elderly care services across the whole island of Ireland. Through volunteering Jude’s feels that he has ‘gained excellent training in First- Aid and have been exposed to a lot of different experiences supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities, the deaf and the elderly within Kerry.’ Through his training Jude was able to deal with a difficult life-saving incident he came across. ‘I witnessed an elderly man collapse on the street whilst walking, I was able to remain calm, place him in the right position, check his pulse and called the ambulance services.’
Next year Jude will act as an Ambassador for Irish Culture participating in a school exchange year. He feels that the skills he gained through volunteering such as public speaking, conflict management and communication skills have provided him with the confidence to pursue this opportunity.
‘Volunteering provides you with amazing opportunities that will last your whole life that will never leave you. There are skills that I have been able to learn through volunteering that I will keep for my whole life. Don’t be anxious, when you are joining as a new volunteer, people are there to help and can guide you, and one day you will learn the skills to guide others. When you volunteer you are not just there to help others, you are there to help others as a team. I have met committed, dedicated, and motivated people. You make friends for life when you volunteer. Overall, remember that there are lots of different ways for you to get involved as a youth and give back – you just need to be flexible and willing to give your time for a worthy cause’.
Feeling inspired by Jude’s Volunteering story? Then why not click on this link to register your interest in Volunteering with Kerry Volunteer Centre toady!