Volunteer of the Year
Team Durham's Community Volunteer of the Year 2011/2012: Ben Gibbons
Ben Gibbons reveals what it takes to be Volunteer of the Year and what he's enjoyed most about volunteering with Team Durham so far...
To start, tell us a little bit about yourself Ben...
I'm a third year sports student and I'm originally from Yarm; a small town in the North East which is about an hour south from Durham. I have always been passionate about sport, especially football and cricket, and I'm a loyal supporter of the (not so mighty) Sunderland AFC! I'm a qualified coach in Football, Cricket, Hockey and Ultimate Frisbee and have recently applied to do a PGCE in Secondary PE which I'm hoping with my volunteering and coaching experiences I should get! I was really surprised, but honoured that I recieved this prestigious award, and I intend to continue volunteering with Team Durham for the rest of my time here.
So, how did you get into volunteering at Durham? When did you start?
In my first year, Katie Binks (Partnership Development Manager) came into one of my sports lectures and described the variety of programmes that Team Durham provided. I had an initial meeting with her at MC and we took it from there. The first project I became involved in were the SUNEE Street League and a Disability Cricket project which I began at the end of October in my first year.
And what kind of things do you have to do? Do you have a specific role?
Since these initial projects, I have been involved in a variety of projects that include: assisting the teachers at the Primary and Secondary sites at Durham Trinity Community Special School, led Summer Camps for disadvantaged children from the local area and become part of the event management group which organised School-Sport Events as part of the Durham School Sports Partnership.
I was also successful with my application for the IDEALS Zambia Project 2012, an experience I would recommend to anyone. As part of my preparation for this trip I shadowed ex-professional footballer Martin Scott who ran a coaching academy at MC.
This shows the great range of activities you can get involved in with Team Durham. I have gained different skills/qualities from each Project. For instance, being part of the Event Management Group allowed me to develop my teamwork and organisational skills, whereas actually coaching activities to numerous adolescents from different social demographics has taught me how to work with a variety of different people. I was also successful with my application for the IDEALS Zambia Project 2012, an experience I would recommend to anyone. As part of my preparation for this trip, I shadowed ex-professional footballer Martin Scott who ran a coaching academy at MC.
This year, I am hoping to get a placemet at Durham Gilesgate Sports College where I would shadow and assist the PE teachers which would provide me with further knowledge and experience of teaching within a mainstream school setting. Also, I am the Durham Trinity Community School Project Leader, so I liaise with Trinity staff and help organise and support other students throughout their placements at either the Primary or Secondary site.
You're involved in so much stuff Ben! But what's been your favourite thing, or your favourite experience volunteering?
For me it's hard to pick a specific thing I enjoy most about volunteering. I've found all of the projects extremely rewarding and I've had the privilege of meeting not only other students, but also teachers and children who have made the experience so satisfying.
But if I had to pick something, I think the thrill of being a role model is what I relish most. Knowing that I can potentially have a positive impact on the lives of young people who participate in the projects has inspired me to complete as many volunteer opportunities as possible. Obviously, this was highlighted to an even greater extent in Zambia, where I was a role model who used sport as a tool for social development, delivering my football sessions with key life skills messages.
It seems like you've really enjoyed yourself, but have there been times when you haven't enjoyed it as much? Anything you haven't liked doing?
I can't think of anything negative to say about my volunteering experiences at Team Durham. Probably the most difficult aspect for me is the fact you become close with many of the children, and it's often hard leave to 'break' bonds after working frequently with them. As I was reguarly attending the Durham Trinity Secondary site in the summer of 2011, I grew close to many of the children and it was tough when explaining I wouldn't be there as often next year.
Wow. So it seems like you've had an incredible experience volunteering through Team Durham. Would you recommend people get involved? And how? Is it worth it?
Whether you want a career in sports coaching or whatever is irrelevant as volunteering offers many benefits. Throughout my volunteering I have developed and learned a variety of new skills and as a result my confidence has increased. Also, being part of Team Durham community has meant I have always been supported, especially by Katie Binks, who has been invaluable in providing advice/recommending and setting up volunteering experiences for myself.
Your hard work is recognised and as a result Team Durham aids your personal development by providing financial support when completing coaching qualifications, which ultimately make you more employable. Due to the increased prices of the courses, I would not have been able to complete my Level 2 Cricket and Football course without their funding. Obviously gaining these types of qualifications and carrying out volunteer work is vital as an addition to your degree of study when considering future employment.
Moreover, I'm proud of the work I've done on the projects and the variety of sports I have got involved in. If you had asked me when I'd started if I'd be willing to learn more about sports such as hockey, ultimate frisbee and pop lacross, which I have no expertise in, I would probably have laughed and said "no way!". Same with my trip in Zambia. So I'd say your horizons are definitely broadened from your experiences.
I'd definitely recommend volunteering with Team Durham as an experience not to be missed! The Scholars and Staff will find a programme that's right for you - there really is something to suit everyone.
See yourself as the next Volunteer of the Year? Get involed at email@example.com
Durham University is blessed with a student base who are always prepared to help. Out students make a considerable difference to the quality of delivery and the development of so many of the Team Durham programmes. The Volunteer of the Year Award is designed to recognise the student that has contributed the most to the programme over the last twelve months.
Volunteer of the Year 2009/2010
Sophie Walton is the Team Durham Volunteer of the Year 2009/2010. She has worked with nearly all the client groups that Team Durham engage with, including adults recovering from substance misuse, fostered and looked after children, youth offenders and gifted and talented school children from local schools.
From the 2009 Summer Camps through the academic year, Sophie has shown leadership by delivering a number of sessions on different projects. She ran workshops on nutrition and fitness testing on IMPACT, led circuit training and a new age curling course with ISSP (Intense Supervision Surveilance Programme- working with youth offenders) and coached rhythmic gymnastics in a local gymnastics club.
She has also qualified to coach a number of other sports, including Mini-Fencing, which she led on the Summer Camps, and Australian Rules football, as well as completing the ASDAN Tutor training course, which she has used to great effect on the IMPACT project.
Her enthusiasm and willingness to get stuck in to any sport and activity has really made her stand out this year and her patience with the youth offenders has been exemplary. Well done Sophie.