Made of More Graduate Volunteer 18/19 Interview - Joe Williams

Here at Golddigger Trust, we run our ‘Graduate Volunteer Programme’, an exciting 11-month volunteering opportunity for those who, post university, are looking to gain more experience and skills in working with young people and/or the third sector. Joe has been part of the programme in 2018/19, and here he share’s a bit more about how he’s found the year so far…

Why did you decide to do the Graduate Volunteer Programme at Golddigger Trust?

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to dip my toe into youth work and see whether this might be something I could see myself doing more long-term. I studied human geography at university and worked in administration for 3 years but I wanted to get out of the office and do something more hands on. I already had an interest in mental health support through both my friends’ experiences with it and also my own, so I was keen to see whether I could find something related to this. I decided to take the leap and hand my notice into my office job, not really knowing exactly what I was going to do next – about a week after I did this, a friend posted on Facebook that Golddigger Trust were looking for a Graduate Volunteer! Once I had read the description, I couldn’t quite believe it because this was exactly what I was looking for. I applied straight away!

 What did the year look like?

The year has been incredibly varied – I have gained a counselling certificate, I have helped run a Made of More course in a local school, I have improved my FIFA & Rocket League skills, I have done mentoring sessions with young people, I have learnt what Fortnite is and I have lapped up as much knowledge as I can from all the wonderful people here. As well as getting stuck into the everyday going-on at Golddigger including team meetings, drop-in, and helping out at any fundraising events.

What were some of the challenges you faced? 

I think for me the biggest challenge has been around growing in self-confidence. I hadn’t really done anything like this before, so it was all very new to me. It took me time to grow in confidence to be able to go into school and lead an activity or meet a young person for the first time. There has been quite a lot of times where I’ve been unsure on an idea I’ve had, but I’ve learnt to step into new things and share my ideas – it’s ok to get it wrong sometimes!

 What were the highlights? 

Generally speaking, seeing the progress I have made over the year and how much I have grown in confidence has been great. Getting involved in mentoring has been really good and I’ve enjoyed taking on my own mentees. I have also enjoyed creating some good spreadsheets and winning the Golddigger Pie and Quiz Night!

What did you learn?

I have learnt a lot about myself! I have also learnt a lot about effective support for young people and how to connect with young people from a range of different backgrounds and ages. The counselling course I did has also given me a really good foundation for thinking around these things.

Why should someone apply for this programme?

If you are interested in youth work or mental health support, this is a really great programme to learn more about where your strengths lie and whether this is the kind of thing for you. It’s also been great to learn more about the everyday running of a charity. Golddigger Trust is a lovely environment to be in and everyone has been so encouraging – the programme has also been really flexible to accommodate where I’m at and what sort of thing I want to develop, so it’s yours to make the most of!

To apply or find out more about our Graduate Volunteer Programme click here or email Applications are now open for September 2019.

Naomi Stanhope