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Blood, sweat, and volunteers
Lou Parkinson meets the Queen
Lou met the Queen in her role as a volunteer
Last updated: 15 July 2004 1107 BST
lineBecoming a volunteer could be the most rewarded thing you ever do, according to 17-year-old Lou Parkinson.
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quoteI am a firm believer that everyone can do something, and I urge you to find what your personal something is.quote
Lou Parkinson

There are many teenagers in Gloucestershire who already do voluntary work for one, or maybe more, organisations.

If you are one of them then you will understand completely the point I am going to make; the benefit that voluntary work can give you.

Personal story

Not convinced? Don't have time? Not your scene? Perhaps my personal story might change your mind.

Children on bikes

I have done various amounts of voluntary work in the past, from teaching art to handicapped adults, to taking deaf children out for horse rides, but the biggest project I have been involved in is spending my afternoons at the Seven Springs Hop, Skip and Jump play centre.

I have to admit that some aspects are hard but I love every minute of it.

OK, so what do I do? Well basically anything the children want to do - football, painting or perhaps some time in the sensory room.

Bags of patience

You do have to be versatile and have bags of patience and energy.

However, I can honestly say that the stacks of unconditional love and appreciation I get from the children is the best thing in the world to me, and I don't really mind what I have to put into it as I know I'll definitely get more out of it.

quoteYou do have to be versatile and have bags of patience and energy.quote
Lou Parkinson

Working with kids may not appeal to you but there are plenty of other ways to get involved.

For example, if you're into animals there's Riding for the Disabled, or you could do some work for the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

Star Centre

Or, if you like people, but prefer working with adults, there's the Star Centre, visiting a retirement home, cooking for Open Door, or you could be trained in working with the blind and help in that way.

I am a firm believer that everyone can do something, and I urge you to find what your personal something is.

You may have to try two or three things before you find what you're really good at but that's no disaster.

Rewarding

I can tell you from experience that it will be one of, if not the, most rewarding things you ever choose to do.

quoteIt will be one of, if not the, most rewarding things you ever choose to do.quote
Lou Parkinson

I have only mentioned a few ways in which you could help. There are, of course, many more.

Information can be found about all organisations requiring volunteers through many resources, for example the internet or your local information office.

Also, check the papers and magazines for ads, or listen to the radio.

Next generation

If you feel passionate about something and an organisation doesn't already exist, create one.

I don't know how to stress enough that we are the 'next generation' and it's us that can do something to help, now.

Trust me, it will benefit you as much as those you are helping.

And even if you don't believe me, there are worse things you could do, right?

Article by Lou Parkinson

This article contains user-generated content (ie external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.

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