Many of us volunteer as a chance to give something back to our local community. Volunteering also plays an essential role in giving us opportunities to develop our confidence, networks and gain valuable work experience.

 Abi shares her experience of volunteering with Foundation at the Progress Group in Harrogate.

 Volunteering involves spending unpaid time doing something to help other people or groups, other than (or as well as) close relatives. Evidence suggests that volunteering brings health benefits to both the volunteers and the people they help”. The NHS give information on the health benefits of volunteering.


 I am Abi Horsburgh and I volunteer at Foundation Progress Group, located at St. George’s Community Centre in Harrogate. I first visited the Progress Group in October 2016 after being given the opportunity to volunteer by Ruth Stephenson (a Foundation Youth Homeless Prevention Officer). Whilst attending the local council offices for declaration of homelessness, Ruth asked me if I would ever consider volunteering and welcomed me to attend the weekly group.  At first I was sceptical about volunteering. I wasn’t sure what roles I could do. I wondered about the situations that I may face, my authority within the job role and what the experience would offer me.

I attended one session and immediately I knew that I wanted to volunteer for Foundation. Right from the beginning of volunteering I have gained in many ways. As a volunteer, I have grown in confidence, learnt about confidentiality, safe guarding yourself and others, expanded my existing knowledge on communication skills and barriers, and how to overcome these along with various other key skills.

Now three months later, I have my own login to complete my e-learning as part of the training to become a “peer mentor”. I have also been assigned a staff laptop and phone and have completed my DBS (which Foundation do for you). If I had anything to say to anyone thinking of volunteering, it would be, ‘DO IT!’ Volunteering is more than just the social aspect. It opens doors and allows you to find areas in which you can excel and eventually apply to a job within that area. For me, I had been out of work a year and Foundation was to about to receive a referral for me. Little did I know how much of an opportunity it would hold for my future!

Thank you, Foundation!