I think most of you will have heard about the government's Big Society plan, in fact talk of it is rarely off the front page at the moment.
Well today saw David Cameron reveal a central part of it, the National Citizen Service, a voluntary two month programme involving community work, designed to give 16 year olds "a sense of purpose, belonging and optimism." It made me think of Stevie, a troubled teen whose life was changed as a result of volunteering. Stevie's Mum and Dad were in and out of jail for as long as she can remember, she was made homeless twice and she experimented with drugs and alcohol at the age of 12. She was always in and out of trouble with the police and was expelled from school a lot. She also struggled with her sexuality and never felt accepted.
Then she joined PAG where she got involved in one of our volunteering projects that we ran there. And together with a small group of young people not in education employment or training, she was given the chance to be trained and supported to develop and run her own community project.
As a result all of the young people developed essential skills that helped increase their chances of employment too. Stevie's life has changed so much. As well as a drastic change in attitude, confidence, drive and motivation she's also achieved her level 1 writing, literacy and numeracy. The most amazing thing she's done is to go on to volunteer in Africa where she helped build schools and drinking wells.
The extreme poverty she was exposed to had a huge impact on her and she's now doing presentations for other disadvantaged young people about her experience. She's become a real volunteer ambassador for her community where she is promoting volunteering to young people who are a risk of being excluded from school and helping to deliver various activity programmes for disabled people.
She's currently on a couple of different courses to increase her chances of employment and has also joined a lesbian and gay group to get support and support others who are struggling with their sexuality. David Cameron wants his National Citizen Service to be his most powerful legacy. Stevie has most definitely left a volunteering legacy in her community.