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What does the City Year UK experience mean to me and how did it change my life?

Volunteer mentor presenting to a group of other volunteer mentors

From a young age, I have always known that helping others and giving back was what I wanted to do. By the time I’d gone to college – then straight to university – I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to give volunteering a go. I knew that I wanted to take a placement year at university to gain some experience, but I wasn’t sure of exactly what I wanted to do. Then City Year UK (CYUK) was advertised to me at a University Fair. Once I read up and had my interview, I was certain that it was what I wanted to do. Starting at CYUK was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially when starting BTA (Basic Training Academy) but everyone was so friendly and the impact officers (CYUK members of staff who support each team) were so welcoming. However, the fun really began when I started at the school.

Volunteering at a school has enabled me to gain so many skills that I will use for the rest of my life.

Teamwork, time management, public speaking and resilience are just some of the things that I have gained. But I’ve also learnt the importance of giving back to the community. Volunteering a year of my life was an easy decision for me. CYUK supports you in every way possible; there’s always someone to talk to whether it be a fellow volunteer mentor or one of the impact officers. CYUK also creates many opportunities for its volunteers, not just in schools. I took part in a social action project involving feeding the homeless – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do! I was also lucky enough to have my own mentor (we call them ‘bridge builders’) who has given me a lot of guidance and support during my CYUK experience and my life after the programme.

CYUK has changed my life in many ways, but the most important lesson I have learnt during my year of volunteering is to be grateful and always give back when you can. Seeing the change in the pupils at the school I volunteer at has been priceless, and it’s something I will never forget!

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