A group of young people in Knowsley who joined a scheme to volunteer to help others say it has transformed their lives.
The project is hosted by Knowsley Council for Voluntary Services and this year it attracted unemployed graduates, young carers, a lone parent, young people in the care of the authority and a young pregnant mum.
They have been involved in everything from play schemes to classrooms and the experience has led them on to new starts, new careers and even a new country.
A gala evening at the Huyton Suite celebrated their achievements and they were presented with awards for what they had achieved.
“The vtalent programme gives young people the chance to develop their experience and themselves,” said Pat Bakewell, Knowsley’s Vtalent coordinator.
“Around fifteen people have completed the programme and it really has completely turned their lives around – they’ve done brilliantly.
“Volunteering has given them a sense of purpose – something many of them haven’t felt for a long time.
“We give them a lot of support to make sure they stay motivated and make the most of what’s on offer – it’s been a real success.”
Some of the group who have been volunteering in schools are now pursuing careers in teaching, others are carrying on with their work to complete training as support workers, two other are heading to America to work on summer camps with underprivileged children.
Unemployed graduate Rose Patiniotis, who’s 25 and a single mum from Huyton, volunteered in St John Fisher School and is now applying to begin teacher training.
Rose said: “I had an Art and Design Degree but no experience. By joining the vtalent programme I’ve managed to get the Teaching Assistant Level 3 qualification.
“I’ve also got loads of classroom skills to help with my interview to start a PGCE to become a teacher.
“As a mum, I can now see really positive things for me and my daughter Aimee in the near future.”
Twenty year old Zoe Gilchrist, from Page Moss,is pursuing a career as a teaching assistant for children with special needs.
It follows a placement as a volunteer support worker for children with disabilities which also led to her discovering she had dyslexia.
“That would never have happened if I hadn’t been involved with this,” said Zoe, who has struggled through her own schooling, not knowing she had dyslexia.
“I’ve learnt so much about myself. I’ve realised that hard work and determination does pay off.
“V talent has opened the door to me to a new career.”
The project lasted for nine months and the volunteers were working full time across Knowsley’s Directorate for Children and Family Services.
As part of their work, they underwent intensive training in safeguarding, health and equality as well as
ic caption: Vtalent volunteer Rose Patiniotis and her daughter Aimee at an awards ceremony for the volunteers at the Huyton Suite.