Volunteers Week: Chatting with AKT Mentors We spoke to AKT mentors about why they decided to volunteer with AKT. Why did you choose to volunteer for AKT? Andrew: Children, teenagers and young adults are especially vulnerable to the difficulties of life.In the face of extreme hardship, at a time when young people most need stability, compassion and nurturing is essential in order to develop in to physically and mentally healthy adults. Emotional neglect can potentially foster irreversible negative and damaging effects. After many years working with children and young people and I felt that my experiences amounted to a fund of knowledge that might be best offered to the service of helping those in desperate need of support, and who are least likely to know where to turn. Katerina: I chose to volunteer at AKT as I think being able to help young people at a young age is key in ironing out/addressing issues that they have faced growing up. What motivates you to volunteer? Andrew: Life is difficult – for everyone. But some people are plunged into circumstances of chaotic despair far beyond the control. This is especially tragic when it affects young people, and as far as I am able I want to help them. If I were I the same situation I hope someone would help me, and I think a positive way to inspire change is to lead by example. Katerina: Helping my young person and seeing them grow over the course of our mentoring relationship has been incredibly rewarding. We have had many laughs along the way together and it's great to see my young person be confident in who they want to be. What’s the best thing about volunteering at AKT? Andrew: Working to make a difference to a person’s life and helping them through what might feel like unsurmountable hardship by letting them know that someone, even a stranger, cares. Katerina: AKT is unique in that it is proactively tackling discrimination that young people face by helping them in a supportive environment to understand that they can be who they want to be. I am proud to be part of a charity that supports young people who are from all walks of life to explore/own and be proud of their sexual orientation. Young people need to know that they are not alone and they deserve to be treated with respect, kindness and dignity. We are still on a journey when it comes to equal rights but with AKT I feel that we are making grassroot changes which is incredibly exciting! What would you say to someone who is thinking of volunteering? Katerina: To volunteer with AKT and help young people you need time, commitment, patience and buckets of kindness. Young people may have had turbulent, troubling pasts and need to know that there are people out there who can listen, facilitate, sign post and support. We've all needed someone in our lives to help us, and there's something incredibly special about being able to give back and assure a young person that their feelings are valid, they are heard and that they are not alone. It's incredibly rewarding! Andrew: What are you waiting for? Stop thinking about it and do it! You can make a difference. Interested in volunteering? Find out more here.