International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1909. A day to honour women's achievements and reinforce a commitment to women's equality. SVC is marking the day by acknowledging many incredible women, those we know personally, those who inspire us from history, those who currently inspire us in the media, and of course, some of our marvelous volunteers. This list is by no means exhaustive, we could talk all year about influential women and equality.
However, one of the women we’d like to celebrate today is a fantastic volunteer we have called Kelly. She graduated in 2021 with a first-class honor degree from USW after studying a BSC in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kelly has since started her masters in Applied Criminal Justice at Swansea University. But an area that hasn’t changed for Kelly is the role volunteering continues to play in her life.
“Give a little, gain a lot, is something I feel describes my experience of volunteering. The small amount of time I have has made a massive difference to those I have supported.”
Kelly has been involved in volunteering from a young age, as a teenager she undertook fundraising events for a charity close to her family’s heart. Therefore, when beginning University, it was natural for Kelly to seek out other opportunities. Kelly began volunteering with SVC in the first year of her degree, she chose to volunteer on their Young Carers Club (YCC). A project which organises trips for young carers. These trips are an opportunity for the young people to switch off from the responsibility and pressures of being a young carer. It additionally gives the young carers opportunities to meet other young people who have shared experiences, and build rapport with the student-volunteers who are seen as such positive role models. Over the years the club has undertaken a variety of trips from cinema, dining out, Bristol zoo, theme parks, Go Ape, theatre and bowling.
Kelly still volunteers on this project as the Lead Volunteer. This role requires Kelly to work closely with the SVC office staff, planning the different trips, preparing and delivering volunteer training and liaising with the YCC families registered on the project.
“I started volunteering on the Young Carers Club project in 2017, and still am an active volunteer on this project. Not only do I attend the club but also help with budgeting, planning and communication with families which has provided me with a new set of skills.”
The pandemic made this project particularly difficult to manage, with restrictions making many trips impossible to organise. Additionally, many of the young carers live with people who were shielding due to their health conditions, which meant Kelly and the team needed to be even more vigilant. However, this did not phase Kelly and her YCC volunteer team. Instead they adapted their sessions to digital sessions. They established digital befriending sessions for the young carers who felt they would benefit from one to one support, and organised regular group digital sessions including an online Escape Room, a street dance class, and a film and take away night – all from the comfort of their own homes! This work led to the project winning the “Youth Led Grant Project Winner” at the Cardiff Volunteering Awards in 2021.
Besides her work on YCC, Kelly has also been a Trustee for SVC for the past 3 years.
“One of my highlights of being the Events and Fundraising Officer was arranging the Quiz Night with our Chair, and raising funds to support ongoing projects.”
Kelly is part of a team of people who oversee the SVC charity. They ensure SVC is undertaking work in line with it’s aims, has enough funding to pay for the staff, and monitors the charity’s development - ensuring it responds to the needs of the local community. Becoming a Trustee offers volunteers an opportunity to progress within the charity and learn strong leadership skills, planning and organisational skills, but additionally, experience of the Third Sector.
“Becoming a charity trustee allowed me to see a vision of what the charity’s aims and goals were. It allowed me to have a voice, an opinion and an input in changes, removals and additions made to projects.”
If you are interested in finding out more about SVC’s opportunities please visit – SVC | Give a little. Gain a lot. (svcymru.org)
Kelly Fenton receiving SVC’s Volunteer of the Year, Silver Award in 2019. Presented by Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner.