A group of people standing on sand dunes

‘Volunteering helped me in lots of ways’

Published : 06/10/21 | Categories: Volunteering |

Karma Seas CIC were funded by the Youth Led Grants in Bridgend to deliver their project. Read about the positive impact of the project on one young volunteer and the community.

SURFER TURNED VOLUNTEER

Cai* a young volunteer for Karma Seas, first got involved as a surfer participant in their LGBT+ group last winter. He enjoyed going to the group and surfing, helping him to make more friends and be part of a social group doing sports where he felt comfortable as a gay surfer.

He was asked if he would like to become a volunteer and then took part in some volunteer training. He has since started volunteering in sessions for children with disabilities and became a surf mentor. In this role Cai has developed good relationships with the young surfers who need regular help, learning how to work with a wide range of additional needs.

‘What started out as dipping my toes in the water of LGBT+ surfing led to me becoming a volunteering surf mentor to younger people, gaining friends, skills and confidence and ultimately a job in health and social care.’

HELPING OTHER TO ENJOY A SPORT HE LOVES

As a volunteer with Karma Seas Cai* mentors children and adult participants in surf sessions. Sometimes this is helping one person in a group, one-to-one, or it may be working with a surf instructor, parent or carer to keep the surfer safe in the water if they have more complex needs.

On the beach, he also helps with moving equipment, introducing new participants and making them feel comfortable, explaining and demonstrating aspects of surfing, and beach / water safety.

As a volunteer Cai attends training in different topics related to the needs of their surfers, like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and LGBT+, and group training with other volunteers and Surf Instructors. He has to stay fit and be able to run on sand, swim well and know the hazards and how to get help if anyone needs first aid.

‘I feel I have helped others to enjoy participating in a sport I love, to make friends in their peer group and stay fit and active. By mentoring the same children regularly I have learned to communicate better with them and help them feel more comfortable and confident surfing.’

‘VOLUNTEERING HAS HELPED ME IN LOTS OF WAYS’

Through volunteering Cai* has made friends with other volunteers and they have kept in touch throughout lockdown through online platforms and training sessions. He has also learnt digital skills by working with another volunteer to put together this short movie using new software to demonstrate the work the project does. He says that:

‘Volunteering helped me in lots of ways, giving me skills and confidence. I learned a lot about the beach and water safety, became a better surfer and increased my circle of friends to do sporting activities with.

I also met different people through volunteering and had training to help me to understand their abilities and additional needs. I got formal training in a range of topics and this helped me gain employment in a related field, where I the received even more useful training that I can relate to when I’m surf mentoring. I also train and stay in touch with other volunteers and surf with the LGBT+ group and my friends.’

Cai is hoping this year to go on to do his SLSGB (Surf Life Saving GB) Surf Coach Rescue Qualification so that he can also help as a lifeguard.

YOUTH LED GRANTS

Distributed by CVCs across Wales, the Youth Led Grants support a range of small volunteering projects and activities led and carried out by young people.

In 2020/21 the projects were funded to address six priority areas identified by the Welsh Government which have the potential to make the greatest contribution to long-term prosperity and well-being.

You can read more about Youth Led Grants here.

To find volunteer opportunities in your local areas visit volunteering-wales.net.

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