So here is the obligatory 2013 reminiscence post. I’m sure you’ve read many of them over the past few weeks. It seems that as the year changes, many people look back over their year, look forward to future years, then tell the world about it. However, I do feel it’s important to look at where we’ve come from and where we’re going, it gives us time to stop for a moment and reflect.

One of the major and most obvious changes in my life over the past year has been my arrival at University. On a relatively sunny Saturday in September, I packed far too much into our car, whizzed down the A64, unpacked everything from the car, said goodbye to my family and then stood in the middle of my room wondering what on earth I was supposed to do next. Three months later, I know a few more people’s names, can find my supervisor’s office without too much trauma and can recite a worrying number of Morrisons prices off by heart. I still spend far too much time wondering what on earth I’m supposed to be doing next.

Volunteering has been a massive part of my life this year.

I completed the Team v program in May and became a Team v mentor shortly after. I’ve attended a number of other things with vInspired including a social media evening in London. vInspired and Team v have changed my life. I know that people say that about things a lot, and it’s a very cheesy thing to say, but I can say it from the bottom of my heart – vInspired has changed my life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. I have been given the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, and get to know myself, without the stress and pressure of school work and exams. As many of you will know, I didn’t have the easiest time at school and left never wanting to sit an exam again. I fell into Team v almost by accident, and (as usual) had no idea what I was doing, at least to begin with. I have come out of the program more confident, happier and more at peace with myself. I feel able to handle a variety of situations both in my professional and personal life that used to overwhelm me. I have met some amazing people and built up a brilliant network or friends and colleagues. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has, and continues to, help me on that journey.

Scouting has been an incredibly active part of my life this year, at times I’ve been Scouting for every evening of the week. I have finished my training and gained my wood badge. I’ve been able to get to know the young people and leaders within my group better. They’re a wonderful bunch of people, full of energy, life, and inspiring stories. They’re almost like another family to me, and I look forward to seeing them when I come back from university almost as much as I look forward to seeing my cat (and my actual family…). I’ve struggled to find a group at University but I hope to in 2014.

Other volunteer projects I’ve been involved in include Young Minds, Shout Out Leeds (With Space 2 and Time to Change), Leeds Involving People, Boston Spa Neighbourhood Plan and Martin House fundraising events. I have met friends for life through these activities, especially Shout Out Leeds and Young Minds. I’ve had the chance to develop my skills and develop as a person and a member of society. The Neighbourhood Plan was challenging and a huge learning curve, but it taught me a huge amount. Through Leeds Involving People I’ve had the opportunity to influence health and social care in our area and speak to people who I’d never have otherwise met.

So 2013 draws to a close. It’s been a big year for me, finally beginning to come out of my shell and actually believe in myself. I’ve had many ups and downs, but I’ve built up an extraordinary network of friends and colleagues who have guided me through. I’m entering 2014 happier, healthier and more content. I’m looking forward to another year packed full of hope, opportunities, friendship, learning and volunteering.

But most of all, I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been there for me this year and to all of the organisations who I’ve worked with, for providing me with life changing opportunities, hope and happiness.


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