How giving back can take you forward

Volunteering for Whizz-Kidz

There’s a secret about volunteering that only volunteers know. Although they give – their time, their effort, their weekends – it can almost feel selfish because you receive such a lot in return. In fact, it’s the nuclear fusion of free feel-good energy as you get more out than you put in. Many of our volunteers tell us it’s borderline addictive.

Few know this better than Whizz-Kidz’s Volunteer Support Officer, Sophie Dearman. Not only is looking after our volunteers her day job, but she’s pulled on the branded charity fleece herself for years and volunteered.

“Volunteering is not only about making a difference in the lives of others but also about personal growth and development,” she says. “I have seen first-hand and experienced personally how volunteering can build confidence, develop new skills and open doors to new opportunities.” More than anything, for Sophie, it’s a chance to connect with others, make new friends and gain “a sense of purpose and fulfilment”. Not bad for giving up a couple of hours a month or whatever you can spare.

So much of Whizz Kidz's good work is only possible because of our volunteers. The difference you can make to young wheelchair users is huge. And you need no special qualifications or experience (although we’ll make the most of them if you do), just a willingness to help and be part of our movement.

We would love whatever you can give - an hour, a day, or years of commitment to young wheelchair users. It says a lot that when they get older, many not-as-young people come back to Whizz Kidz to help us run our activities and Wheelchair Skills Training because they know the difference it made to them. It’s a virtuous circle which spins faster and for longer with more volunteers lending a hand. Sophie says:

So, if you’re looking for a way to make a positive impact while also investing in yourself, joining the Whizz Kidz volunteering team is the perfect choice

Sophie, Whizz Kidz Volunteer Support Officer

Meet Millie, a Whizz-Kidz volunteer

Don’t take our word for it. Millie Boyse (seen below on the left, with Diana and Natalie) has volunteered for Whizz-Kidz for seven years, helping at an incredible 180 events since 2015. From flash mob dances to virtual safaris, she’s done it all and got the Whizz-Kidz t-shirt. We caught up with her to find out more.

What made you want to volunteer for Whizz-Kidz in the first place?

“I began volunteering with Whizz-Kidz at the age of 16. I was learning about disability in a Spanish lesson, and I found it really interesting, so I went away and started doing my own research. I came across Whizz-Kidz and loved (and still do) what Whizz-kidz stands for, so I decided to become a volunteer. I wanted to try something new that would challenge me, and volunteering with Whizz-Kidz has done that completely.

I have loved my journey and can't wait to continue it in the future

Was this your first experience of volunteering?
“It was my first experience volunteering, and I have absolutely loved it and continue to do so. I have met so many amazing people, from staff, and Whizz-kidz’s young people, to other volunteers, and it has been nothing but a joy being a member of this team.” 

What have you done as a volunteer for Whizz-Kidz? It sounds pretty varied!
“I have done a variety of events with Whizz-Kidz both online and in person volunteering in London and Edinburgh clubs. With Whizz-Kidz, I have done a dance flash mob in the Olympic park, supported a campaigning group, rushed around London on the DLR (pushing Londoners out of the way!), been to pantomimes and seen places around the world like a Safari park,, in Nairobi, and this is just some of the amazing highlights. The volunteering opportunities with Whizz-Kidz are vast, and I have been so lucky to do all of this. 
I have also participated in the 30 Years 30 Stories project, where I conducted interviews with different people, which was an amazing project. I interviewed three people, including Zara in Edinburgh, who told me fascinating stories of her life, including bumping into Margaret Thatcher and Ian, who took a team to the Paralympics.” 

What are some of your favourite experiences with Whizz-Kidz?
"I have too many favourite experiences! A recent favourite experience was on Zoom going to the Safari Park in Nairobi. It was such an incredible thing to have been able to see, and the young people absolutely loved it too. You could even take really cool postcard screenshots, and I was able to make many people jealous that I was able to experience this.

Another favourite experience was doing the dance flash mob at the Olympic Park – the young people were so good at it, and I don't think this is something you can forget easily!

Have there been any funny stories when volunteering?
“I have so many funny stories from volunteering that it is hard to pick. One funny story was when I went to London Zoo with Whizz-Kidz, and I was helping take photos and push one young person as it was very, very hilly. We got to the lion enclosure, and we were trying to find the lion but couldn't see it. Little did we know that it would soon be feeding time, and the zoo keeper went into a gate between the enclosure and us.

The lion jumped out from behind their sleeping den wooden structure, and it scared all of us so much, and it was so funny. Even the zoo keeper was laughing at us.

Have any experiences moved you emotionally? 

“I attended the session, not really knowing anyone in Scotland, just starting university up there. I walked in and was met by Diana and Natalie, who explained everything to me and said we would be playing Boccia. I didn't know what this was (and quickly became very used to it as they love it in that club), but everyone was joking around and laughing as we played. By some miracle, I was doing really well and won the game overall on my first go- all the young people were not happy with me, and we were laughing about it for a whole year after saying how it was beginner's luck etc. Everyone in the club welcomed me with open arms, and it was such a warming experience being a student away from home, and I was just so grateful to have been there. 

“Another story which moved me is about another volunteer, Belinda. We had met at our training together and then attended our first club together, which wasn't planned. It was pouring with rain and on the way there we met by accident at the tube. I was soaking even though I was wearing a raincoat, and she, by chance, had a spare umbrella.

For my first club working with her, we joked that she was my volunteering mum as she helped a lot if I got lost.

Do you have any memories of working with Whizz Kidz’s young people that you’d like to share?
“I have worked with a variety of young people at Whizz-Kidz. A highlight was completing a marketing course with Zoe, a young person in Scotland and Diana. Zoe has an awesome YouTube channel, and we were discussing how we could help promote her channel even more, so we decided to complete this marketing course online. It was a really cool thing to do anyway, and Zoe made it so enjoyable, and we came up with some great ideas for her channel, which I hope one day everyone will watch. 

Another memory I have is working with Georgia on the Kidz Board.  We were at a Kidz board weekend in London, Georgia, and I had battled with the Londoners on the DLR and were in the lift where I discovered her love for musicals and Hamilton. We were singing the whole way to the restaurant together, and no one was stopping us!” 

 What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering with Whizz-Kidz?
“I would definitely recommend volunteering with Whizz-Kidz - it is such an amazing charity. You can volunteer as much or as little as you want, and there is such a wide range of activities to be involved in that if there is a subject area that interests you, I am sure there will probably be a role for it here. It has been a great seven years volunteering with Whizz-Kidz, and I can't wait to continue to do so.”

How do you think Whizz-Kidz could improve things for its volunteers?

“Whizz-Kidz do their best for their volunteers and I don't think there would be any improvements. You get regular training and many opportunities to do different activities.” 

 Do you have any words of advice or top tips for volunteers?
“The best piece of advice is to enjoy it, which is really cheesy, but I know I was pretty nervous about my first few clubs with Whizz-Kidz, but I had absolutely no reason to be. Everyone is welcoming (unless you win at Boccia in Scotland first time), and everyone is so friendly that as long as you enjoy the clubs and look out for everyone, you can make the most of your volunteering.

Take opportunities when they come, you don't know who you may meet or what could happen.

I have always wanted to volunteer at a Whizz-Kidz camp, which happened pre-pandemic, and I haven't yet had an opportunity to do one yet, but hopefully in the future.” 

We hope to see Millie at more of our events too. She’s a great example of volunteering at its best. She’s given so much but got a lot back, which is how this partnership works best. Sarah Pugh, Whizz-Kidz's Chief Executive, says:

Volunteers are the backbone of Whizz Kidz, providing the essential support we need to fulfil our mission.

Their contribution is invaluable, not only in terms of the time and skills they offer but also in the passion, dedication and commitment they bring. Together, we can make a real difference by creating a society where every young wheelchair user is mobile, enabled and included.”

Find our more about volunteering for Whizz-Kidz and how you can involved.

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