How volunteering can shape a young person’s experience of the justice system

Beth is a 25-year-old from Ukrainian background who was studying Criminology and Psychology when she took up a volunteer role as an Independent Person to gain more hands-on experience within the field. She shared her experiences volunteering with CMY’s YRIPP program for National Volunteer Week.

What initially motivated you to become a volunteer for the Youth Referral Independent Person Program (YRIPP) with CMY?

I was initially motivated to become a volunteer for the Youth Referral Independent Person Program (YRIPP) at CMY because of my passion for supporting young people in the criminal justice system. I was studying my Bachelor of Criminology and Psychology at the time and wanted to gain more hands-on experience within the field.

I had a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of young people by ensuring they have access to fair treatment and support.

The opportunity to volunteer with YRIPP aligns with my commitment to social justice and my belief in the potential for positive change through compassionate and informed intervention.

What did you not know about volunteering with YRIPP which you’d like to convey to someone thinking about joining the program?

One thing I didn’t fully realise when joining the program was the profound impact that the role of a volunteer with YRIPP can have on the lives of young people. I underestimated how much being an independent person can influence a young person’s experience with the justice system and their broader community.

Being a YRIPP volunteer not only makes a significant contribution to the community but also fosters personal growth and provides a deep sense of fulfilment.

What skills or lessons have you gained from your volunteer experience that you didn’t expect?

Firstly, I developed a deeper understanding of empathy and active listening. Supporting young people in vulnerable situations taught me to truly listen and understand their perspectives without judgment. I developed my communication skills, learning how to convey information clearly and compassionately, which is crucial when explaining legal rights and procedures to young individuals.

I learned the importance of patience and resilience. Working with young people who are navigating difficult circumstances requires a steady, patient approach and the ability to remain positive and supportive, even when progress seems slow.

Seeing firsthand how encouragement and guidance can positively influence a young person’s life has reinforced my belief in the power of community and the importance of giving back.

How do you spend your time when you are not volunteering?

When I am not volunteering, I am working and supporting young people in out-of-home care, or spending time with my family and friends and taking my much-loved Golden Retriever on walks or to the beach for a swim.

Find out more about volunteering as an Independent Person with YRIPP here.