About Author

Andy Green

Andy Green

I'm Andy Green - co-founder of Counting Hope and founder of Lyke Limited and I'm passionate about volunteering, charity work, and social action. I have cerebral palsy and type one diabetes, but I don't let that stop me! Having raised over £1,000 for various charities, volunteered for hundreds of hours, won multiple awards and worked with many clients for my age, I like to think I have a lot experience and enough to know anything is possible, but enough to also know that I have so much to learn.

personal

Why I volunteer

Why do I volunteer? I suppose I’ve always felt a strong desire to help people whenever I can – and if you help someone else then it makes you feel good too. It can be a win-win situation!

I began volunteering as a teenager when I was invested as a Young Leader with the Guides. I’d been a Guide myself and got a lot out of being a member of the movement, so I wanted to give something back. I really enjoyed working with the girls and helping them learn new skills.

When I went away to university I joined the Durham University Scout and Guide Group. We were a bunch of ex-scouts and guides who enjoyed hiking, camping, canoeing and lots of other outdoorsy stuff, but we also did quite a bit of voluntary work. We organised competitions for the local scout and guide groups – and I bet we had as much fun in the planning of these events as the kids did in taking part. The Venture Night Scheme was a particular favourite – a night hike in the countryside around Durham at the end of October, with ‘incident bases’ to test the Venture Scouts skills. It also tested our survival skills when the weather was bad and the temperature down around freezing!

The best part about being part of this group was that I met a fantastic group of like-minded people who became my friends. One of them even became my husband. We still all meet up once a year (at a Scout association hostel of course) with our families – the oldest children will soon be off to university themselves and I hope they will have as good an experience as we did.

I’ve been involved in other volunteering activities too – fund raising for the church, chairing the Pre-School committee, helping to run the village Community Café, and for about 10 years I ran the Ulceby Heritage Society.

Volunteering has also enabled me to undertake some training – and even led to paid work. Voluntary Action North Lincs (VANL) offered a 6 month course in Community Research 12 years ago, which I did whilst pregnant with my youngest son.  The training was excellent and I use the skills I learned to this day. Once I’d completed the course (and had a baby!) I led a research team for VANL and worked on a couple of different projects for them – for which I was paid.

Five years ago my husband was asked to go and work in the USA for a couple of years. I had to leave my job at Franklin (which they very kindly kept open for me), and I was unable to work in America initially due to the kind of visa I had. So, of course I volunteered! At Franklin I had been involved in the Career Academy, which is a scheme that is actually based on an American organisation called the National Academy Foundation.  A school around the corner from where I lived had a NAF Academy in Finance, and as Franklin has an Academy in Business & Finance, I decided to approach them and see if they were interested in hearing how things work in the UK. I ended up joining their Board!

I also volunteered at my kids’ school in the States and helped with marking books, preparing materials for lessons, and organising auction items for the school fair. I got involved with the Cub Scouts too –helping at meetings, and helping to plan and buy food for the annual camp, which the whole family went to! We made friends for life through the Cub Scouts – it was a brilliant way to meet people.

I’ve now been back at home for almost two years, and though I’m not doing quite as much volunteering in the village as I did (other people have taken over the Heritage Society and the church fund raising I’m pleased to say!), I am involved in volunteering at Franklin. I spend an hour or two a week after college helping out with the Shakespeare enrichment project. I love acting, so it’s not a chore, but it can be hard work trying to get students to turn up for rehearsals and costume fittings! I’m also involved in Counting Hope of course and it’s exciting to be part of this new venture, which I hope will be a great success.

So in summary I think that volunteering is really worthwhile because it gives you the opportunity to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself, and to make a difference. It has brought me new skills, paid work, lots of friends and even a spouse – plus the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped a few people along the way.

Maisy’s Volunteers’ Week Testimonial

Hi, I’m Maisy Carroll and I’m a volunteer for Counting Hope, an upcoming Charitable Incorporated Organisation, currently focusing on improving the lives of people living in Sal Island, Cape Verde.

Previously, I have volunteered for Healing Young People’s Council in organising village events to raise money for different charities such as Brake. I volunteer as I find it very rewarding to help those in need and really enjoy the different fundraising activities and events that are put on to generate funds and bring everyone together.

I hope to carry on volunteering in the future, both locally and abroad to experience different cultures and communities while helping people.


As a side note from Andy Green – whilst it may not appear as though Maisy has done a lot of volunteering, we know that she has made a substantial impact in her local area, and besides: it is not about how much volunteering you do, it’s about the difference you make. Counting Hope aims to empower people in this region as well as Cabo Verde by providing opportunities to people like Maisy to follow their passion and develop skills that will help them in all aspects of lives.

Why I think outside just the UK

Hey my name is Molly! I’m currently a student at the Grimsby Institute. I have been involved in charity work since I began to walk, its a huge part of my life. I have been involved with WEDay/Free The Children since I was at school.

‘Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner. In Canada, the US, and the UK, WE Day and WE Schools are initiatives of Free The Children that educate and empower young people. WE Schools is a yearlong educational program that nurtures compassion in students and gives them the tools to create transformative social change. And WE Day is a series of stadium-sized events that celebrate youth making a difference in their local and global communities.’

Through my work with WEDay I have organised regional events called ‘MiniWEDay’ an event that was created to inspire and motivate young people to volunteer and get involved in their local community. Through these events I hope to inspire the young people of my area to create local and global impacts!

Through volunteering I have come across some amazing opportunities! These include representing WEDay at national press conferences as well as taking part in a life changing volunteering scholarship trip to India. Volunteering abroad has a huge impact on students! It gives them the opportunity to learn new skills, develop knowledge of the challenges faced by other countries, and to understand the impact of social action. Not only are you completely immersed in a new culture, but you also learn a lot about yourself as a person too. Travelling empowers you to take on new challenges, you realise you can do things you never thought were possible.

Volunteering shows that you are hardworking and dedicated to creating change, the experience gained through volunteering sets you apart and is one of the reasons that I have confirmed a place at Coventry University. I have also become involved in Counting Hope, this was through working with Andy Green on previous projects. It’s great to be able to see a group of people create change about things that they are passionate about.

I am so passionate about the charity work I do and I truly believe that anyone can make a difference to the world no matter their age or background! I want to give the young people of my area the same opportunities that I have been given.

Sian’s volunteer story

I was 16 years old when I first started volunteering. I’d love to tell you that I was inspired by my desire to help people, but at that point it certainly wasn’t the case. I’d been told by my Head of Sixth Form that universities looked very favourably on applications that were brimming with work experience and volunteering positions, and I had my sights set on one of the most competitive Journalism departments in the country.

I strolled into the church that I’d been a part of on and off since I was a child (I’d been off for a good couple of years by this point), and basically said “I need some extra-curricular stuff to show universities that I’m a well-rounded person, give me a job!” I know, I’m not proud of myself either.

For some unknown reason, they gave me a job and I started volunteering for two evenings a week at the church’s youth clubs. It pretty quickly became more than something to put on my personal statement. Volunteering gave me an escape from the drab monotony of my school-homework-eat-sleep-repeat cycle. I absolutely loved the kids that I worked with, I loved watching them grow in maturity and confidence and my colleagues and I formed a friendship which is still going strong six years later. I discovered skills that I never knew I had, from the important stuff like answering a young person’s questions about spirituality to nailing finding a solitary jelly baby in a pile of flour using only my face. Yep, this is the stuff we got up to!

When I was contacted about getting involved with Counting Hope, I think I almost bit Andy’s hand off! To me, education is one of the most powerful tools in the world and the idea of using education to empower people and making them self-sufficient was so appealing to me, rather than chucking some money at them and forgetting about it. I’m so proud to be involved with a charity right from the word go, and I can’t wait to watch it grow and reach more people both here and in Cabo Verde.

To anyone who is unsure or thinks that volunteering isn’t important, I can categorically tell you that it has provided some of the richest and most character-defining experiences in my lifetime. It’s taught me that you are more than your chosen career path, and that everyone has so many more talents and skills that they still need to unlock. You just need the right platform.

Volunteering is life changing

If you don’t already know, today makes the start of Volunteers’ Week – an annual celebration of the absolutely amazing work that volunteers do all over the country, and indeed in the case of Counting Hope, globally! Of course, I hope that anybody volunteering with Counting Hope will feel rewarded all year round and have reason to celebrate all the time, but I wanted to kick off 12 very special days of celebration. As an organisation that is still trying to find its feet, it would be silly to miss an opportunity to use #volunteersweek.
Before you say it, my best bet is that “12 days of volunteering” would infringe the copyright on “12 days of Christmas”… Not really, you can read all about it at www.volunteersweek.org!

Anyways, why do I volunteer? There are quite a few reasons really, but I think the main one is probably the feeling I get from volunteering. There’s absolutely nothing quite like it, certainly not that money can buy, and it is what keeps me coming back for me. It’s fairly difficult for me to come to close describing this feeling, it’s something you have to experience first-hand, but just think for a second…
Through volunteering anyone and everyone can make a positive impact of somebody’s life, for free! That impact can be as small as putting a smile on a person’s face, or as large as saving a person’s life, but it all matters. The truth is, both people could be equally as grateful, or indeed putting a smile on that person’s face could have saved their life. One of my favourite quotes goes “everyone is born to be different, and that’s the one thing that makes us the same” and only when you start volunteering do you realise just how true that is.

Some say superheroes only exist in movies, but I argue that the superheroes of real life are the truly selfless volunteers in society that make a long lasting impression on those they help! As I’ve said, you can never know who will be grateful for your actions as a volunteer, it’s not out of the question that they live in the house next you! So that begs the question of Cabo Verde.
The answer is probably not as glorious as you expected – it’s “why not?”. I have always wanted to be able to make an impact internationally and the first time I went to Sal Island I fell in love with the country, the people and the culture. I saw some of the most deserving people with the drive to one day be in the position to help others but the inability to get there, and that’s the same drive I have – the only difference is that I consider I am in a position to help people. Having been through the UK education system and supported all of my life, I don’t think there is anything much more important! And yes, there may be people all over the word that are equally as deserving but every organisation needs a starting point and volunteering is all about having a passion, which comes from the heart, and the people of Cabo Verde have my heart!

Of course though, I do also support other causes and organisations such as WEDay, Diana Award, Cancer Research and JDRF, but ultimately I support empowerment in any shape or form that may come in.

Have you considered being a superhero? J