28 Aug 2013

This is the first in a series of regular features focusing on one person and the difference they make to the work of The Children’s Society.

Melissa has volunteered with our Ohana Project in Tees Valley since leaving school at the age of 16. She provides one-to-one mentoring for a young person and for the Friday Club, a group for children with complex needs. Over time, she has become an invaluable member of our team.

Here we show a series of photographs in a day in the life of Melissa.

Photo 1

Sunbathing

‘Finally the sun is shining in Billingham so I decided to sunbathe before leaving to do my weekly volunteering with the Friday Club!

'It is always so much fun and energetic that some relaxation in the sun before it begins is welcome.’

Photo 2

Arriving at Tees Valley Children's Society project.

‘Here I am, arriving at the Tees Valley Children’s Society project…Hello everyone!’

About the project Melissa supports

The Ohana Project Tees Valley has been running for over two years and provides counselling, family intervention and mentoring services for children and young people who have been identified as being at risk of offending.

The project also links with the local youth offending service and our two practitioners who deal with restorative justice, who are based at our Tees Valley office.

The project runs two groups on a Thursday and Friday for children who have additional or complex needs that require further support when making the transition from primary to secondary school, and also during their first two years at secondary school (years 7 and 8).

Photo 3

Catching up

‘I catch up with my Volunteering Co-ordinator Joanne every few weeks to let her know how my individual and group mentoring is going. I always end up discussing art because this is my passion and something that I have been able to share with the young person I mentor, who also loves art.’

Photo 4

Arts and crafts

‘Today we’re having an anti-bullying workshop and we’re producing a display for the Tees Valley project. I’m really excited as I can use some of my art skills with the group. Many of them are already brilliant at arts and crafts so I am sure they will produce a fab display.’

Photo 5

Friday club young people

‘These are some of the young people who attend the Friday club working hard to produce our anti-bullying display. I am so impressed with how well they are working together.’

Photo 6

The display

‘Our anti-bullying display! I had to put the final product up on the wall straight away because it is just so brilliant. It’s a real boost in confidence when the young people see their work up in its full glory!’

Photo 7

On the phone

‘Before I leave I just have to make a phone call to my mentee to arrange our next individual mentoring session. This young person wanted to spend quality individual time with a mentor rather than attend a group. I love volunteering with young people so much that I do both.’

Photo 8

Heading home

‘After a hectic afternoon, I’m heading home. We’ve already arranged a cake decorating session with the Friday club next week and my mentee wants to go bowling so I have lots of fun volunteering sessions to look forward to next week.’

Get involved - volunteer in your area

If you’ve been inspired by Melissa’s day and are interested in volunteering for us, you can find current opportunities on our volunteering pages. Alternatively, please speak to a member of our Volunteer Team on 020 7841 4602.