Francesca Middleton, Supported Volunteering Officer at Voluntary Action Coventry, tells us about her role in Progress, why she thinks it's vital that young people need to have the right tools to succeed and what surprises her the most about the young people she works with.
Hi Cheska! So, tell me a bit about your organisation…
Voluntary Action Coventry supports and develops voluntary and community activity in Coventry by providing assistance and advice to local charities and third sector organisations, and offering individual and group support to people looking to volunteer.
What is your role in the Progress programme?
I am a Supported Volunteering Officer and VAC are Specialist Providers within Progress, offering the opportunity for young people to access volunteer roles in Coventry as a way of building experience, confidence, their CV and their skills.
Volunteering can be a really valuable way of testing out a workplace environment, developing skills and knowledge and most importantly, evidencing those skills when it comes to writing CV’s and applying for jobs.
Why do you think that this programme is important to young people?
Progress supports young people in a way that is tailored to their individual circumstances and aspirations. They work closely with a Progress Coach who really gets to know them and can refer them on to partner services that tie in exactly to what they need and the support that fits them best.
What surprises you the most about working with young people?
It surprises me to see how many young people experience low self-esteem and confidence, and just how large an effect this can have on their motivation and the chances they create or choose to engage with.
I think that is why programmes such as Progress are so important – there needs to be the people, activities, opportunities and experiences out there to show young people that they DO have what it takes and that they can succeed, in whatever capacity is important to them.
Who inspires you in life?
I get inspiration from loads of people in my life… I’ll notice how a colleague handles a situation, or the way a friend does a task or speaks to someone and it will impress me. I don’t do it consciously at the time but I think it helps me work out how I’d want to behave in similar circumstances.
What would be your words of wisdom or encouragement to any young person who is considering joining Progress?
For young people who doubt their own abilities or feel that something is holding them back – this programme can really help to improve your experiences and options for the future.
Find out more about Voluntary Action Coventry and our other Progress partners in our Partner Directory.