Ben took part in our Engage project last month. He had sessions in project planning and budgeting to give him the skills, confidence and experience to be able to design and deliver his own social action project in Chelmsley Wood in Birmingham.
Ben was with Engage for two weeks and was one of the quiet ones in the class in the first few sessions. He appeared to lack the confidence to speak up in a large group, but was always very polite, always ready with an answer if asked and managed his time really well.
During the first week I took the group to Gro-Organic, one of our community partners, as Engage had a volunteer day set up for them. Gro-Organic is an award winning social enterprise specialising in design and construction landscaping, outdoor education and community land based projects. They provide a comprehensive range of services to schools, businesses and third sector organisations that are looking to improve their outdoor space or utilise local land for skill development, training or community cohesion.
Gro-Organic asked the team to help clear a space in their new community garden. The team were given the tools to complete the job and were supported by the site co-ordinator Lee. The team worked really well together, but Ben really came into his own and got stuck in. He also supported other members of the team and gave them clear instructions on what to do.
Ben spent the second week designing a social action project which aimed to give Gro-Organic’s team of volunteers suitable workwear. He used Gro-Organic and the Dig It Crew logos to design some polo shirts which will hopefully make the volunteers feel like a team. The T-shirts were a huge success and will be delivered this month.
Ben asked if there was any way for him to carry on volunteering with Gro-Organic as he had really enjoyed the experience and felt he had found a possible career, so we are working with him. to sort out a suitable schedule. We’ve also provided Ben with a volunteer mentor to help him access local apprenticeships in horticulture so that he can pursue his new found passion. He has already been supported in applying for one apprenticeship.
Ben says: “Volunteering has helped me determine what sort of career I want to do and to gain the necessary experience. It has also helped me boost my confidence and gain better social skills.”
Ben is a classic example of a young man who had gone through the education system and got ok results, but had no clear idea of what he wanted to do. We’re thrilled that volunteer experience through our Engage project provided him with such inspiration.
Engage is our exciting new project that matches volunteer mentors with young people living in Birmingham who are seeking employment under the 'Destination Work' programme. If you’d like to know more, or could volunteer a few hours to help these young people develop business skills, take a look at www.timebank.org.uk/engage