Volunteers’ Week: Thank you to Jenny

Jenny Bennett was a student social worker studying at Salford University, specialising in mental health. As well as the demands of her studies, Jenny was also working part time for Petrus – working as a project officer within the organisation that supports homeless people. Jenny embarked on a 100 day voluntary placement within the Groundwork Prince’s Trust department starting on 22nd October 2012. During this time, Jenny gave support to four different Prince’s Trust Teams, with the bulk of her placement giving full time support to Prince’s Trust Team R103 (based at Hopwood Hall College in Middleton).

The Prince’s Trust Team programme is for 16-25 year olds, and a typical team consists of a majority of unemployed young people. We focus on the young people who need our help the most, particularly those who may leave school with little or no qualifications, offenders and ex-offenders, unemployed young people (particularly those out of work for 6 months or more) and young people in or leaving care.

Team brings together people of different abilities, circumstances and backgrounds. It contributes directly to the local community and equips Team members with nationally recognised qualifications. It encourages self-assessment and enables Team members to create their own development plans.

Jenny abseilJenny’s role within the team was to be a positive role model and use her knowledge of social work practises to mentor, support and signpost young people as necessary.  Additional to this Jenny gave direct support to the Team Leaders, assisting with a diverse range of tasks such as completion of paperwork, organising work placements for the learners and fully participating and helping to motivate and engage the young people throughout their learning experience.  Additionally, Jenny gave direct 1-1 support to guide the learners through to the completion of their nationally recognised qualifications.

From a personal perspective as the Team Leader of R103, from day one Jenny had a wonderful impact on the team and she consistently gave me a huge amount of support.  She had endless positivity and was a real ray of sunshine. She was a complete natural in her role and she thrived on being able to help and support anyone, whether that was the young learners or colleagues within Prince’s Trust.  She instantly formed a fantastic rapport with the learners and earned their respect and trust immediately. Jenny had the ability to inspire, motivate and engage the young people. She was patient, showed great empathy but never patronised or molly coddled the learners. Her friendly, bubbly personality shone through and her advice and guidance was always sound and realistic. The team consisted of a few learners who had never successfully engaged with education or training and had been excluded from schools and colleges. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm was infectious and this was reflected in the success of that particular team.

For me personally, the whole experience was an extremely positive one and I have no doubt that Jenny’s valuable input was a contributing factor. Every day I felt grateful for her help and support. I felt incredibly lucky to have Jenny on board and she made a massive difference. It never ceased to amaze me how Jenny coped with the demands of studying, completing assignments, working part time at Petrus and working full time at Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale. She had enough energy and positivity for everyone. I was so sad when Jenny’s voluntary placement came to an end but I know that she will make a great social worker. On completion of her masters degree, Jenny gained a management position within Petrus and I’m sure she will transfer all her skills successfully to help other people within that environment.

From me, a big thank you! I will always be grateful for everything that Jenny did, she  set a high standard and if another volunteer was half as good, I would still be happy.

By Jill Eckersley, Prince’s Trust Manager at Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale.

Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1-7 June 2013 and this year’s Volunteers’ Week
focusses on saying ‘Thank You’ to the millions of volunteers who regularly
contribute to society.

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