Sunshine on Sundays – A volunteer’s blog

Guest Blog By Hayley – South Devon Volunteer

I first became aware of the Wave Project through referring and signposting young people to the charity as part of my work as an Educational Psychologist, as well as whilst surfing (well attempting to) during weekends down at Bigbury. I always enjoyed surfing near the young people as they looked like they were having so much fun and brought an energy to the water that I wanted to be a part of. I thought about volunteering for the project for some time but was always worried that due to my busy work life and having a form of arthritis that effects my spine, and therefore can make surfing difficult sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to commit enough and I would to let people down.

Hayley E

In 2017 my 14 year relationship came to an end and I felt lost. I had spent my entire adult life as part of a couple and I wasn’t really sure who I was anymore.

As the months progressed I felt more open to trying new things and I decided to give volunteering a go. I contacted the South Devon project and joined a social surf meet up for new and existing volunteers in March 2018. The water was freezing (it had recently snowed and I usually have a no sea policy between November and April) however I really enjoyed myself and getting to know the other volunteers and I knew I wanted to have a go at working with the young people when the first course started a few weeks later.

During my first course session I was paired up with an experienced volunteer and absolutely loved it. Since then I have volunteered at nearly every course session and also some club sessions too (young people can join the club once they have completed a 6 week course) because I enjoy it so much (although I think it’s important to note that my worries about not being able to commit enough were unfounded as you can commit as much or little time you have).

It’s hard to describe how positive I feel after each session without sounding like I am doing a sales pitch but they genuinely brighten my Sundays. From pretending to be a basking shark to surfing dressed as Santa supporting the most amazing young person who has to overcome his anxiety every day, I now get to be a part of that energy and fun I used to observe.

I would describe myself as a shy person but The Wave Project has enabled me to meet some great new people whom I never would have met otherwise.  Click to Tweet.

So what does 2019 hold? I hope to share some of the knowledge and skills I have learnt through my work as an Educational Psychologist to further support the amazing work done by the volunteers but most of all I can’t wait to get back in the waves with the young people! As volunteers we get lots of lovely thanks from the parents and young people we support but I genuinely feel I get more from these young people that I can ever give and therefore I would like to give my thanks to them for overcoming their barriers and allowing me to be a part of all of this.