Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thank you for the fantastic contribution volunteers make. During the week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK. At Whizz-Kidz we rely on volunteers to support our services for young people, to assist us in head office and to help us raise more money. We wouldn't be able to do all the great work that we currently do without them, so thank you to everyone!
Karen is our longest standing volunteer in Scotland, having volunteered at our Glasgow club since October 2012. Since then, she has volunteered thirty times at our youth club in Glasgow, not to mention the huge level of fundraising she has completed for the charity, and the awareness raising events she has volunteered at also.
At our clubs, Karen has supported the young people to engage in so many activities, including music, cooking, sports, visiting attractions across Glasgow such as the panto and has also supported them to develop themselves and reach their potential. A great example of this is her support of a young person attending services who in 2017 decided to transition in to volunteering herself. She actually received a Volunteers Week award herself in 2018, and much of this can be credited to the many hours of support from Karen; whether that was enabling her to believe in herself, fundraising with her or having fun at the clubs. This volunteer is now a Whizz-Kidz employee, and this is exactly the type of journey we need our volunteers to help happen and we have Karen to thank for this.
In addition, Karen has done huge amounts of fundraising for Whizz-Kidz, including runs, raffles and other events. Perhaps her biggest challenge to date was climbing Kilimanjaro in 2018 raising money for Whizz-Kidz along the way. She is a force to be reckoned with and we are so lucky to have a volunteer like Karen supporting the charity: thank you for helping us to recognise all of these achievements this year in Volunteers Week!
Millie has been volunteering for Whizz-Kidz since 2016, and in that time has volunteered her time at over 25 different events in both London and Edinburgh. Millie was less than 16 and a half when she applied to volunteer for Whizz-Kidz and has demonstrated over the years the level of impact a young volunteer can have on an organisation, despite her young age.
Millie started off volunteering at our clubs in London, supporting other volunteers to lead events without any Whizz-Kidz staff being present, which took a high level of commitment and competency. Whilst in London she volunteered with us at fundraising events such as Parallel London, in addition to doing her own fundraising challenges. She was a huge part of Whizz-Kidz attaining Investing in Volunteers accreditation by attending a number of focus groups and then being involved in the assessment. She also volunteered with the Kidz Board (our youth advisory panel made up of 10 wheelchair users from across the UK) supporting them to take part in activities which in turn shape the organisation as a whole.
Millie turned 18 and headed off to Scotland to study at University in 2017, but that wasn't the end of her volunteering: since then she has become a staple at the Edinburgh youth club, being a constant for young people through multiple staff changes and an all round fantastic and reliable volunteer.
Hannah has been an active adult volunteer for 12 months and has done 65 hours of volunteer work this year. Prior to becoming an adult volunteer, Hannah volunteered as a Young Leader at over 30 events, including a residential camp where she supported other young people. She was also a part of the Kidz Board (our youth advisory panel).
Over the years, the difference in Hannah's confidence is incredible: she has transformed from a shy and quiet young person to a super role model for the young people at the Birmingham club. It is perhaps not surprising that one of the things Hannah is very good at is working with the quieter members of the group and supporting them, as well as advocating sometimes on their behalf. Her calm and welcome manner makes her very welcoming and a lot of the young people in the group would be more likely talk to Hannah about things they felt nervous about because of her reassuring manner.
Because she has been a young person at the club before volunteering a lot of the young people look up to her and know that she truly understands what it is like to be a young wheelchair user. The young people at the club can clearly see how confident she has become in her powered wheelchair and she is the type of person who likes to lead by example.
Without Hannah, it would not have been possible to run the Birmingham Club this year having so many young people at the club. Hannah will often go around with a group of young people and support them with the activities they are delivering. It is hard to know what is going on all the time when you have 30 young people at club but Hannah can be trusted to support the young people she is with and she has the confidence to talk to staff if she is concerned about a young person.
Kasia volunteers with the Events Team in the office, and has volunteered over 200 hours since she started in 2018. She has had a massive impact on the running of our events supporter stewardship, and she has taken sole control of sending and recording all resources on Raisers Edge. These resources have been packaged and sent in a timely manner and Kasia has followed all data protection and Raisers Edge processes around this task. We simply couldn’t of done this without her. Kasia was also in charge of Venue research for Challenge 75 - which will be Whizz-Kidz's first ever fully inclusive fundraising challenge event - she was the one that found the London Marathon Community Track: it was through her diligent work that we have our venue for Challenge 75!
One way that Kasia has overcome challenges is when she had just 2 half days to send out resources to 500 London Marathon runners. She overcame this due to her ability to remain extremely organised in her approach to her work. She works methodically meaning that she never got overwhelmed by the sheer volumes of order forms we received.
Kasia always goes the extra mile for us. When we were struggling to find volunteers to attend the marathon expo and to volunteer on race day Kasia gave up her Wednesday to attend the Expo and gave up her Sunday to volunteer a 12 hour long marathon day. She didn’t have to volunteer these extra hours - in fact, she doesn't HAVE to volunteer any hours at all! - but we couldn't have done it without her.
Stephen joined the Whizz-Kidz volunteering team in early 2018, and since then has volunteered at 9 of our youth groups, as well as volunteering at wheelchair skills training. He has also supported young people to access work placements. Stephen is a wheelchair user himself, and as a result he has a huge amount of skill, experience and empathy to share with the young people, who really look up to him as a result.
Stephen has shown himself to be a highly competent volunteer. As well as being incredibly attentive to each young person, showing a good understanding of how to promote and encourage their independence, he is a fantastic role model to them, and shows very clear leadership. Examples of his leadership qualities include how he welcomes the parents and engages with families as they arrive - without being asked to do - which immediately puts young people and their families at ease, especially if it is there first time at club. He is also able to deliver activities to the young people with minimal preparation time, for example if the person due to deliver a session hasn't yet arrived. He does this confidently and inclusively. If ever there is a time when he is unable to volunteer at club, the young people all really miss him, as do the staff members, as he is an excellent volunteer.
Kayla began volunteering with Whizz-Kidz in February 2018 and since then has volunteered at 10 events, quickly becoming an integral part of the team in South Wales. She always goes the extra mile to ensure she can volunteer with the young people at club - one weekend she was due to be in Birmingham for a weekend trip with the Youth Orchestra she is a part of, and when she realised the club was on the same day she arranged to drive down to Cardiff just for the day, to then go straight back to Birmingham and perform in the evening!
Kayla uses her initiative and completes tasks before anyone has had the chance to ask her to. She’s on the ball with how sessions run, what paperwork is required, and what support each of the young people need – so she’s always running about getting these things organised before the staff have asked. Kayla is one of few volunteers that the service delivery manager in Wales would trust to run services in her absence, which is praise indeed!
Kayla has overcome a huge amount in her personal life in the last 16 months, including amongst other things bereavement and major surgery. She has never let any of these things affect her volunteering with the young people at club, and she never loses face with them. When delivery staff members have suggested Kayla doesn't need to be at club and could go home and do whatever she needs to do, Kayla explains that she would prefer to spend her time at club because it makes her so happy - and means she doesn't have to focus on the more negative things going on.
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