“I wanted to volunteer because when I was young I had strong mentors and adults I could relate to for advice and emotional support. I want to offer this to another generation. The YMCA seems to be really thoughtful in how that support is delivered.”
Mark now volunteers as an Honorary Counsellor, working one day a week as part of a counselling team. He has noticed demand on the counselling service increases around exam time. Young people can be struggling to cope with many aspects of life, from social pressures to global issues, family life or general anxiety. A significant pinch point is the notion that making the wrong decision now will impact the rest of life.
Mark finds the work rewarding and meaningful. “It’s great to see the change in the young person over ten sessions. Maybe there’s a decrease in anxiety, or identifying the root of their distress. I enjoy offering them a safe space to do this, and being on that journey with them. For myself, I find I feel less alone, more connected to people which is really important to me. You meet people from all walks of life and come to understand the ‘human struggle’ is universal. It has been so rewarding to witness a change take place in a young person that I have helped with, and he is able to take that change into the world outside.”
In conclusion Mark says, “I think my work at the YMCA has a massive impact on young people’s lives, and they support me in supporting them. I feel held and looked after, so as a placement for someone in training it feels like a safe and fertile ground in which to start my practice.”