whg customers have been given the necessary tools to engage with young people, thanks to a volunteering programme launched in partnership with whg and Walsall Targeted Youth Work.

Ten residents, who live in Goscote and Blakenall and are all out of full-time employment, took part in a six-day youth leader training course, which provided them with volunteering opportunities to work with young people in and around their local area.

The programme also resulted in the 12 residents gaining a Level 1 Certificate in Employability Skills qualification. Sessions were delivered by Walsall College at Bloxwich Community Partnership’s Blakenall Centre.

Now that they have completed the programme, the participants have joined whg’s Volunteering Works programme. This will result in the participants achieving a Level 2 Certificate in Youth Work.

They will also be placed with local youth activity providers in the area to help them gain valuable experience and help out in their community. Local providers offering placements will be whg’s Social Inclusion Team, Blakenall Community Partnership, Walsall Targeted Youth Work and St Aiden’s Care Team.

The 10 residents all live near the Waters Keep estate, where work is ongoing to build 412 new homes. The estate forms one part of the £88 million Goscote Lane Corridor Regeneration programme.

With new play facilities planned near the estate, local residents and partner agencies will work together to provide activities to engage young people.

Julie Adams, aged 36, is among the new recruit of volunteers. She said: “I have been volunteering as a youth worker for Bloxwich Community Partnership for the last two years.  I was inspired to volunteer after my cousin passed away at the age of 21. I felt lost after his death but it inspired me to do something positive and give something back.

“I wanted to take part in this programme so I could gain some qualifications. I learned loads on the programme and I’m now looking forward to helping out more young people. Volunteering is really rewarding – as much as I help people, it helps me too. It’s also a lot of fun and is getting me on the right track to getting work, which will help to support my family.”

The completion of the programme coincides with the launch of Volunteers' Week, which is being held nationally from Thursday, 1st June to Wednesday, 7th June.

whg recruits around 50 new volunteers per year, who all on average give around five hours each of their spare time per week, over 40 weeks.

Aaron Lawrence, whg’s Community Development Officer, said: “Our new volunteers all live around the Waters Keep estate so they have seen the great work that is going on in the area. It is great that they are playing their part in giving back to the community, and their work with partner agencies will benefit many young people in the area.

“We are delighted to mark the completion of this project with the start of Volunteers Week. Volunteers who join whg’s Volunteering Works programme are not only given a range of volunteering opportunities, but are mentored by our friendly team of Community Champions. It is a rewarding programme, where participants give something but get a lot back.”

Michael Collyer, from Walsall Targeted Youth Work, said: “The six day training on youth work has enabled whg customers to understand some important issues around working with young people such as child protection, how to engage with young people and what makes their community unique. The training has raised questions that do not usually get asked or spoken about.

 “Overall the course was a great success as it helped people gain a deeper understanding of youth work, it showed professional partnership, and it developed different aspects of peoples lives.”

If you are interested in volunteering, find out more here or call whg’s Employment and Training Team on 0300 555 6666.