When I first started volunteering with SVP, I was amazed how important and valued it is to people in the community.
When you see a child developing and becoming more confident and when you see the people getting something back from it – it makes coming in on a miserable, cold winters’ evening all worthwhile.
“When I first started volunteering at SVP’s Ozanam House Resource centre in Dublin’s North Inner City, I was amazed by how important and valued it is to people within the community. I was also taken aback by how comfortable the young people and other users feel in the centre - It feels like a second home for them.”
As well as working with the active retirement and men’s group’s within Ozanam House, Sarah works across a range of youth programmes for children and young people.
“I love working with children. I work with children and young people from 5 all the way up to 20 years of age each day. It’s amazing to see the impact that coming here has on them. Usually on their first day the children may be shy and withdrawn. Some have very poor communication skills. But after a few months you can really see the difference it makes as their personalities really develop and their conversation skills improve. They can tell me what they need and are not afraid to speak out in a group or get involved in the activities".
Sarah works on a wide range of activities like music, cooking, education supports, group activities and providing a safe environment for young people to hang out with their friends.
“These activities are really important to help children and young people build their confidence and try new things. For some young people Ozanam House may be the only safe environment they have to play and hang out with their friends.
“During my work on the youth programs, I do see some children coming to the centre who are in difficult living situations. There have been children who come here because their families have been forced to live in a hotel room or others who are living in 2 bedroom properties with up to 6 siblings and their parents.”
“For these children, Ozanam House provides a space for them to just be children and have some fun. It fosters a safe environment for children of any age to come in and be themselves. They can play music or games and chat to us about their concerns.
“At Ozanam House we keep everything positive, encouraging and empowering. It’s our mission to create a place where people can grow and make friends in supportive environment and everyone is willing to help each other.”
“It’s all about talking to the young people who are using the centre and building a relationship with them. For some, simple things like sitting down and having a cup of tea and a chat with them can make a huge difference to their day”.
"Volunteering on a full time basis is a big commitment and can be difficult at times, however Sarah thinks that it’s all worthwhile: “When you see a child developing and becoming more confident and when you see the people getting something back from it – it makes coming in on a miserable, cold winters’ evening all worthwhile.”
A year on from her first day of volunteering at Ozanam House, Sarah has been accepted to a Masters Degree in Social Care at University College Dublin which will commence in September.
“I am really looking forward to starting this course as I have seen first-hand the impact this type of work can have on people’s lives”.