Written by Rose Taylor

I was delighted to be invited along to Brannel School and talk to a group of students who are volunteering as part of the ‘Brannel Challenge.’ Designed by the school to give pupils a chance to try different activities, the whole school go off timetable on Wednesday afternoons and enjoy everything from surfing to gardening and book clubs.

The current volunteering group included 16 students from years 7, 8 and 9 and had already done two sessions at Café CHAOS, helping with the garden. Next week, they’re off to Cornwall Hospice Care to help sort out the warehouse and earn more credits through Timebanking Your Way, our youth volunteering project.

We talked about what volunteering is and come up with 3 rules: you can’t get paid, you can’t be made to volunteer, and you have to help someone (or something – we decided this includes the environment, animals, and buildings). We agreed that, in the future, you might be able to volunteer to help aliens as well but that further discussion would have to wait for NASA to make an announcement…

Working in groups, we brainstormed ideas about how volunteering can help you and the community. Some popular answers were around meeting new people, helping you decide on a career and learning new skills – a good follow on from the gardening they’d been doing the week before. The colourful posters they created are going to be part of a board display in the school, along with photos from CHAOS.

The last fifteen minutes were all about looking to the future. What problems in Brannel School, in their home towns and the world at large could be fixed with volunteers – everything from tidying up the local park and helping out at youth clubs ( ‘they never have enough people to do it right,’) to large scale environmental campaigns and fundraising groups. Lots of ideas for next year’s volunteering groups to consider!

It was a great opportunity to spend some time with some Timebanking Your Way members, and to see the early stages of what will be a wonderful volunteering project.