2008/09 Volunteer of the Year
Ben has been a dedicated volunteer over the course of the academic year and has clocked up 46 hours of voluntary work with the Team Durham Community Team. This has been predominantly with the 2nd Chance project which uses multi sport activities as an intervention to help recovering substance misusers. He has attended most of the training sessions and a number of the tournaments.
Whilst a Team Durham Volunteer Ben has gained his Level 1 Football coaching qualification and is about to go on to take his Level 2. The qualifications have been funded by Team Durham. As well as football coaching awards, Ben has also undertaken his cricket level 2; this is no mean feat to gain all these qualifications in one year as they total over 100 hours of contact time with the tutors.
Ben has also volunteered at a Looked after Children’s event and a Homeless event, his ability to adapt to the types of groups he is working with and share their banter has made all the groups he volunteers with relax and feel at ease, add to this his easy going nature and willingness to get stuck in, this has made him stand out as our volunteer of the year for 2008-2009.
Interview with... Ben Embleton, Volunteer of the Year 2008/2009
What projects do you currently work on with the Community Department?
My first experience of community work with Team Durham was the Second Chance Multisport Programme, which is now the SUNEE Street League. I wanted to do my Level One Football Coaching qualification and Team Durham offered to help me through it if I volunteered on the Second Chance project. I have continued to volunteer on the project ever since, long after the hours I originally committed to. This is because I believe it is an excellent project which gives structure to the lives of many who have struggled with drugs and alcohol. It is also a good excuse to have a kick-about once a week.
I helped out with the August summer camps, mentoring the young people as well as leading coaching sessions in football and cricket. When I can, I volunteer on one-off events, work with homeless groups, Looked After children groups and projects like IMPACT. Last year I also went into a prison to help deliver a football session.
When did you begin doing community work for Team Durham?
I began in the first term of my second year in October 2008. I began with one Second Chance session per week, but soon got involved in other areas on both weekdays and weekends.
What has doing community work enabled you to pursue?
As I mentioned, I began by qualifying as a Level One football coach. I am now working towards Level Two in football and have completed both Level One and Two in cricket. I have also done courses in Coaching Disabled Footballers and Aussie Rules football. Alongside these qualifications, volunteering has given me practical experience to put my new skills into practice.
How important are these courses for your career?
Whether I choose to take up coaching as a career or not, these courses have been very important. I am hoping to take up a voluntary placement on a football project in Munich next year and this simply would not have been possible with the Community Section at Team Durham. In time, I also hope to take my new coaching and mentoring skills even further afield, perhaps to Canada or New Zealand.
How has volunteering changed your life at university?
It is easy to become completely insulated in the Durham 'bubble.' As a local student, I was perhaps more aware than most of the outlying areas in Durham and their respective problems. Nevertheless volunteering has allowed me to give first-hand help and realising just hope useful sport and activity can be to those groups who are less fortunate than myself. I have benefitted from hundreds of hours of voluntary coaching in my life and volunteering at Team Durham has made me realise how sports and community projects rely on such volunteers. My Volunteer of the Year award has also changed my life, helping me to secure the Community Journalism Scholarship for 2009/2010 as well as being invited to the County Durham Sports dinner.