25 March 2009
Ann Vaughan has been a volunteer with the local Youth Offending Service (YOS) for four years. Here, she tells of her experiences as a community panel member, and why she would encourage others to take part in this excellent scheme:
What made you decide to volunteer with the YOS?
"I was very keen to do something different and challenging, that would really make a difference to society and the local community. Becoming a volunteer community panel member fitted this perfectly."
How would you describe the experience of being a community panel member?
"It is a very important and demanding role – it is however a very important role to the young person who offends. I would like to think that as an experienced community panel member, I am helping more young people to give something back to the community to help make amends for the offence committed."
Do you have a good news story that you would like to share?
"Just before Christmas last year, a young person who had been on a 12-month referral order came to their final panel meeting with us. Since he first came in contact with the YOS community panel members, he has received help with his substance misuse issues, both drink and drugs. He also told us that he has found a job and a girlfriend thanks to the help of the panel members and YOS officers.It is instances like this that really make my role particularly rewarding and fulfilling."
What do you get out of being a panel member?
"I get so much from being a panel member. I love being part of a fabulous, friendly team that is really supportive and encourages future training. I also value being part of the success stories of the young people that come in contact with the youth offending service.I also get a great feeling that I am making a real and significant difference to the young people and the local community."
Would you recommend others to volunteer? If so, why?
"I definitely would encourage others to volunteer. The YOS are friendly and supportive of the volunteers and each other, but most importantly the child is put first to help rehabilitate their attitudes to their community, family and friends.There is also plenty of scope for job opportunities within the YOS, or other employees who recognise the good work the YOS does with young people."
If you would like further information about becoming a volunteer community panel member with the local youth offending service, please contact Gary Meale, YOS Volunteer Coordinator on 01495 235 623.
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