We were so grateful to Nicola Cross for volunteering on our Hummingbird Project during 2018/19. Nicola went into Greater Manchester secondary schools to support our Project Lead Ian Platt in delivering six sessions on mental health and happiness to the students. Nicola was an outstanding volunteer and we were delighted to hear that the experience she gained has had so many positive benefits. We asked her to tell us more about it.
Nicola, can you tell us briefly about your background and education?
“I had experience working in nurseries and primary schools prior to starting on the Hummingbird Project. I am also a school governor for a local primary school.”
How did you hear about the Hummingbird Project and what made you decide to volunteer?
“I heard about the project while in my first year at Bolton University and knew I wanted to help after Ian came into a lecture to look for volunteers. I wanted to volunteer as I felt that the project was everything that both schools and students need. After researching the MedEquip4Kids website, I also knew I held the same values and ethos. Volunteering has also been a part of my life for a very long time, and I see clearly the benefits of it, like the sense of helping and giving back.”
What was your experience of volunteering on the project?
“I enjoyed every moment of working on the project, even the difficult days when the students where not always proactive. I enjoyed having conversations with the students and engaging with the staff. Also, seeing how the project was making a difference. I was fortunate to see the different waves and how the project evolved to better the student’s wellbeing. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and experience.
How do you think the Hummingbird Project benefits young people?
“The project opened up conversations to talk about wellbeing and gain an understanding on why wellbeing is important. It is clear from the participation from the students that they enjoyed the sessions and would express this each week. I believe that because this intervention was completed by an outside agency the students felt more comfortable and would openly talk, which resulted in better results for them.”
Can you tell us how the skills you gained were useful for your career?
“I gained invaluable experience of working with secondary school students. Also, an appreciation of behaviour support and classroom management. I always thought I would work with younger children until I started on this project but have since realised that secondary age students are my preferred age range. In my interview I used examples from the project and now that I am working in the field, I take careful consideration on my content and have created a package which is unique to the school I work in.”
What advice would you give to others thinking about volunteering?
“DO IT – don’t walk, run for the opportunity. Honestly, the skills gained from the experience are of course fantastic, but it is so much more, working with the students under the watch of an experienced practitioner was the highlight of my day. No day is the same and coming away feeling that you might have made a difference to one student is a feeling like no other.”